‘In Living Color’: Jim Carrey Wasn’t the Only Cast Member Who Also Appeared on ‘Saturday Night Live’

Fox’s In Living Color premiered in April 1990. The sketch comedy TV show  was helmed by Keenen Ivory Wayans and featured many other members of the famous Wayans family, with audiences perceiving In Living Color as a Black humor-infused alternative to another sketch comedy show, Saturday Night Live.

But the two shows had more in common besides both being built around sketch comedy. In fact, there was significant crossover between cast members on both Saturday Night Live and In Living Color, with Jim Carrey being one prominent example.

‘In Living Color’ aired for five seasons

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By the time it went off the air in May 1994, In Living Color had completed five seasons and won numerous awards, including a Primetime Emmy Award for outstanding comedy. 

Keenan Wayans originally created In Living Color after achieving mainstream success in Black comedy films, such as I’m Gonna Git You Sucka and Hollywood Shuffle.

“Wayans is a hot property right now and he knows it,” reported the News & Record back in 1990. “In Living Color was not a show he shopped around to the networks. Fox came to him. And gave him carte blanche.”

Wayans intention in filming the show was to create an outlet for Black comedians, as well as other comedians of color. “I wanted to do a show that reflects different points of view,” he explained in the early ’90s, as quoted by Fandom. “We’ve added an Asian and a Hispanic minority to the show. We’re trying in some way to represent all the voices.”

But In Living Color wasn’t just a pushback against the white-dominated Saturday Night Live. It also shared many similarities with Saturday Night Live, even down to how the show was structured.

‘In Living Color’ had a similar approach as ‘Saturday Night Live’

Jim Carrey
Jim Carrey | Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

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Just like with Saturday Night Live, each half-hour episode of In Living Color featured various sketches, all putting a Black twist on funny situations. For example, the News & Record — which called the show a “black version of Saturday Night Live” — notes that one bit about the “Homeboy Shopping Network” featured two African American men unloading a truck of hot items while offering Black humor commentary. 

Even the bits between sketches seemed inspired in some way by Saturday Night Live. “Sandwiched between the skits, a la Saturday Night Live, are fake commercials,” explains News & Record.

While the cast was predominantly Black, they did have many cast members guest starring. And that’s where the two worlds of Saturday Night Live and In Living Color collide.

Jim Carrey and many other comedians crossed over between ‘Saturday Night Live’ and ‘In Living Color’

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Jim Carrey was one of the few white cast members who was on the show through all five seasons of In Living Color. In fact, IMDB points out that the sketch comedy show was what brought him initial fame and launched Carrey’s subsequent comedy career.

Carrey’s on-screen persona was often used to make fun of white celebrities, such as Vanilla Ice. 

Carrey had actually tried to get onto Saturday Night Live first. “[He] unsuccessfully auditioned for SNL three times before landing on In Living Color,” reports Mental Floss. Today, Carrey’s journey has gone full circle, as he guest-starred on Saturday Night Live throughout 2020 where he played the role of President Joseph Biden.

But Carrey isn’t the only Saturday Night Live cast member who appeared on In Living Color

Keenen Wayans’ brother Damon was on Saturday Night Live for multiple seasons before moving to In Living Color. Likewise, Chris Rock appeared on In Living Color after being on Saturday Night Live. Mental Floss points out other examples, including Paul Miller (a director on both shows) and Colin Quinn (a writer on In Living Color who also acted on Saturday Night Live).