At first glance, IFC’s “Sherman’s Showcase” created by comedy duo Bashir Salahuddin and Diallo Riddle, might seem like a traditional sketch comedy show but it’s much more. At its core is extraordinary music which makes sense since John Legend’s Get Lifted Film Co. and RadicalMedia serve as executive producers. This is best-in-show and if you like to laugh then “Sherman’s Showcase” is going to bring you buckets and buckets of mirth.
Bashir and Diallo have a take no prisoners approach to comedy and the series
features a who’s who of movies, music, sports, and entertainment, including two EGOT winners, and multiple award-winning artists, actors and entertainers including Andrew “King Bach” Bachelor, Common, Morris Day, Tiffany Haddish, Lil Rel Howery, Quincy Jones, Mike Judge, Kenny and Keith Lucas, Nigel Lythgoe, Curt Menefee, Vic Mensa, Tawny Newsome, Ne-Yo, Ray Parker, Jr., Mario Van Peebles, Damon Wayans, Jr., Marlon Wayans and Bresha Webb.
Premiering on IFC on Wednesday, July 31 at 10/9c, the series is inspired from classic shows like “Solid Gold,” “Soul Train” and “Laugh-In.” Taking a deep dive into comedy gold, Sherman’s Showcase travels through time via well-produced music segments and clips drawn from the forty-year library of a legendary (fictional) musical variety show. Each week, the vault opens for viewers to experience the chaotic comedy and amazing musical numbers from the forty-year (made-up) history of the show. Whether it’s a real artist playing a fake character, or a comedian playing a real artist, it’s always unconventional, irreverent, and most of all, hilarious.
The premiere episode, “Meet Sherman” introduces Sherman McDaniels, host of “Sherman’s Showcase” as John Legend walks us through a history of The Showcase — from Sherman’s parentage, to the origin of the show, with highlights throughout the show’s run from 1972 to present day.
Emmy-nominated Bashir Salahuddin was born and raised on the south side of Chicago as one of eight kids. He met his writing partner Diallo Riddle when they were both students at Harvard University. His other credits include the new comedy “South Side” which he co-created and is executive producing with his writing partner Riddle. As an actor, Bashir has starred in Lionsgate’s “A Simple Favor,” 20th Century’s “Snatched,” as well as the SAG-nominated Netflix series “GLOW.”
On the writing side, Salahuddin and Riddle previously were consulting producers on TBS’S “The Last OG” and developed their pilot “Brothers in Atlanta” with Broadway Video at HBO. They began their careers as staff writers on NBC’s Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, where they wrote such notable pieces as “Slow Jam the News with Barack Obama” and “The History of Hip-Hop with Justin Timberlake.
Here is an edited excerpt from a phone call with Bashir Salahuddin co-creator of IFC’s “Sherman’s Showcase.”
LOS ANGELES SENTINEL: Hey there, cats and kittens!
BASHIR SALAHUDDIN: What?
LAS: Hey there, cats and kittens. That’s the greeting Sherman McDaniels, host of Sherman’s Showcase delivers in your very funny show — Sherman’s Showcase which debuts on IFC, July 31.
BS: It sure is.
LAS: I love your series.
BS: That’s so good to hear.
LAS: Stop acting modestly. I’m sure you’re hearing this with all your press interviews. I bet not one person said, hell—I didn’t laugh once.
BS: Hell no. We’re comedy scientists. We know the laughs are there. This is the first time something like this is happening so I’m just wide-eyed and just trying to take it all in and not say something stupid. That’s my main goal, not to say something stupid.
LAS: Unless and until you’ve been commissioned to write something “stupid” and then you just run to the bank.
BS: Hell, yes.
LAS: I decided to take a few notes on the numerous jokes that run through your show but then I started laughing and I could not finish. I just had to sit back and enjoy—and here comes the plug— “Sherman’s Showcase” on IFC. Can I push in?
BS: (laughing) Go ahead.
LAS: In the show, you had a character say: “Wrong, wrong, wrong as the night is long” — that’s funny.
BS: (laughing) Brother, you’re wrong, wrong and the night is long and it rhymed.
LAS: My favorite episode is your homage to Prince when he sings his arrangement for
“Take Me Out to The Ball Game.” It’s comically and musically perfect! I can’t believe you said that many theologians said it was “the rapture” — an instant classic.
BS: You know, I love that episode so much. I was just talking to someone about that episode. It’s our way to pay tribute to a great artist. Diallo and I are music fans, and I don’t know if you can tell from the show, but all the music is written by musicians.
LAS: Wait. All of the music in “Sherman’s Showcase” is written by musicians? That’s why I was shaking my head and singing along? Got it. It’s not like other sketch comedy shows. Well done, brother, well done.
BS: Thank you. We certainly helped create the melodies but the creative process was all but into the hands of great music producers. Back to your favorite episode, as music fans, we never felt like we had a proper goodbye to Prince Roger Nelson. So, we decided to dedicate a whole episode to him. The actor we hired looks just like him particularly when he gets dolled up. We loved the idea that we were able to do early Prince, when he had the afro. Super-hot Prince, when he barely had to move and he would just show up and everybody would go crazy—like the fish would stop swimming. Finally, when he sings “Take Me Out To The Ball Game,” it was our way of saying goodbye to somebody who meant so much to us for so much of our lives. We could not have been happier to do that.
LAS: Bashir when I heard his rendition of the song I thought the arrangement was tight. It works.
BS: Yes, it’s amazing. It does work. It’s also good that the song is in public domain. It’s interesting. It’s one thing to have an idea and actually like do it, and then go and do it. When you’re dealing with music there are a lot of legal restrictions. An example you can’t post a Youtube video of you and your kids if a Beyoncé song is being played in the background. The next day that thing will be gone. Do you know what I’m saying?
LAS: Understood. Is that why it’s important for you to work with professional musicians?
BS: Correct. A lot of comedy will do music but clearly, the writers don’t care about it because it’s all about the jokes. We decided with this show that we must elevate. While working for Jimmy Fallon, it was really easy to write a sketch with music in it when you can just walk downstairs and walk into a room and there is Questlove. So, I think that kind of spoiled us a little bit, but that inspired us to get the right people that know music and that’s what we did.
LAS: Now I know why this show — your show— “Sherman’s Showcase” hit me in the gut. The execution of humor, flawless. The execution of music, stylish and not to be missed. Last words?
BS: We create checkpoints for ourselves to make sure that the stuff is good. We sort of make it harder on ourselves, but by doing that, the show is better. We didn’t cut any corners whatsoever. We weren’t just in the writer’s room we were also in the studio.