Most Important Black TV Shows – #23 The Flip Wilson Show



The Flip Wilson Show aired in the early part of the 1970s.  Its run was relatively short, but it broke a lot of new ground for African-Americans on TV.  Read on…

Relevance: As the title suggests, the show was a variety show hosted by popular African-American comedian Flip Wilson.  Flip’s show became a place where you could expect to find other African-American talent, in front of and behind the camera.  Among the comedians who wrote for his show were Richard Pryor and George Carlin.  That had to be a hell of a writer’s room…

Legacy:  Along with being the first variety show hosted by an African-American, The Flip Wilson Show might have been the origin of another well known joke.  One of Flip’s most popular characters was Charlene, a sassy black woman with attitude to spare.  While white comedians have also done their fair share of cross dressing characters, Dave Chappelle famously joked that with black comedians, it’s something of a ‘requirement’ that if you want to hit the top level, you have to do some version of the sassy, or big black woman (think Eddie Murphy and Martin Lawrence for starters).  I’ll let you debate that one…

Craft: Well, it’s a variety show for televsion, so this category is something of a Not Applicable. 

Crossover: In its brief time on the air, the Flip Wilson Show was consistently one of the highest rated shows on television.  Along with popular claim, the show was well respected by its peers; Flip Wilson and the writing staff for the show won both Golden Globes and Emmys for their work.

Apollo: As you would expect with a show like this, the Flip Wilson show thrived on getting the audience to howl.  With his outrageous characters and his trademark catchphrase (“The devil made me do it!”), the Flip Wilson Show scores highest in the Apollo category.

The countdown continues on the television side continues in a few weeks, with the first show on the list that’s still on the air…

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