YouTube Documentary Explains Long-Running Joke of Why Tommy Strawn Didn’t Have a Job on ‘Martin’
Martin will remain a forever classic. There’s not an episode throughout the series run that does not have fans in hysterics. Aside from the characters, the show has so many classic lines and jokes. From Martin’s “you so crazy” to Gina’s “you go boy” – but one of the most famous running jokes is the question of what Tommy Strawn’s (Thomas Mikal Ford) job is.
For all five seasons, the gang all responded “You ain’t got no job” anytime there was mention of Tommy’s work. A new YouTube documentary revealed the story behind the joke, whether or not he actually had a job, and Ford’s dislike of the joke.
Tommy Strawn’s character on ‘Martin’
Ford starred as Thomas “Tommy” Strawn on Martin for all five seasons from 1992-1997. Tommy was one of Martin’s best friends and the straight-laced one out of the bunch, in comparison to Martin and the comedic relief, Cole.
Tommy is a ladies man who enjoys the company of a woman. He eventually dates the best friend of Martin’s wife, Pamela “Pam” James. Their relationship is shortlived but they remain close friends throughout the course of the show.
His mysterious employment status became a running joke on the show, despite him being the only male in his friendship circle to have attended college.
YouTube documentary reveals whether or not Tommy Strawn did have a job on ‘Martin’ and the story behind the joke
The question and hilarious frustration of the group on the show regarding Tommy’s employment became an ongoing joke on the show. Fans never saw Tommy at work, nor did he ever explain what type of work he did, despite him appearing to earn a decent living with his own place and suave dress style. The storyline was explored in a recent YouTube documentary.
In 2016, Tisha Campbell Martin was interviewed on Bossip’s podcast, Don’t Be Scared, and revealed that Tommy did indeed work throughout the entirety of the show. She explained that one episode, in particular, hinted what his line of work really was. The episode titled “Blackboard Jungle Fever” was part of the first season where the cast attends a career day at Martin’s elementary school. Campbell Martin explained,
Tommy did have a job. I’ll give you a hint: the woman I was going to fight, she was Martin’s teacher, Beverly Johnson. In that episode, that’s the first time you hear about Tommy’s job. So, Tommy talks about him being in the Boys & Girls Club. He was a counselor at the Boys & Girls Club. That’s what he did for a living.
The joke started after the writers on the show overheard a conversation between the cast where Ford was complaining about his character not being developed to his standard of acting. He vented to his co-stars that viewers were constantly asking if he worked because he was always at Martin’s home on the show. The writers put the joke in the show as a result.
The joke only progressed and by season 4, the illusion of Tommy’s work was made a central part of the storyline. The decision to keep the illusion going came after a table read for season 4. A throwback of Ford explaining how it appeared was included in the short documentary.
“The idea came up: Maybe Martin meets Tommy after work. And then Martin stops reading and goes, ‘Wait a minute Tommy. What the hell do you do,’” Ford said. “He wasn’t in character, he was being Martin. He says, ‘You have a job?’ I said ‘Of course I have a job!’ And I’m starting to explain and everyone is like, ‘No, we love it!.’”
Ford did not like the part of his storyline because he took being a man with no job was an insult and he did not want to fall into a stereotype that a man – specifically a black man – was unemployed. He later changed his view on the joke and turned it into something positive by hosting acting workshops for aspiring actors titled, “Tommy Ford’s I’ve Got a Job Workshop.”