This one makes me reminisce how good we had it in the 90s. I can pick up the phone right now and start quoting from this show to put my people into a laughing fit. For the uninitiated, Martin told the story of a Detroit DJ (Martin Payne) and his comical relationships with his girl (Gina) and their friends (Pam, Cole, Tommy).
Alright, on to the tale of the tape…
Relevance: The show was set in Detroit, with five black principal characters. As my militant partner in crime likes to point out, there was a Do the Right Thing poster hanging in Martin’s apartment. We’ll stop there.
Craft: I might be a little biased since this show is also a personal favorite, but in my opinion if you want to do laugh out loud comedy that doesn’t get stale with time, you could do a LOT worse than watching Martin.
Legacy: Everyone who watched Def Comedy Jam knew how funny Martin Lawrence was. Among other things, this show proved Martin could still be hilarious without ever cussing. Which opened the door for Big Momma’s House!
Crossover: I’m not sure how much Martin’s career hit the mainstream because of this show. Martin was always up against NBC’s ‘Must See TV’ lineup (Seinfeld, Friends) so I imagine that the ‘mainstream’ people watching Martin were the same types who were watching him on Def Jam anyway.
Apollo: This could SO easily be its own post. I’ll list my own personal top five while you reminisce on yours…
5. In the first season, Martin introduced the character of Jerome: a permed out, gaudy jewelry wearing brother with a thick goatee, straight playa. What made this character so funny to me was I have a second uncle in Louisiana who looked AND acted exactly like Jerome. One of my cousins picked up on this at a funeral when we were kids and I felt so guilty for busting out laughing in the middle of church.
4. Among Martin’s other characters was a white guy named Bob. His most notorious moment was probably when he started wilding out a party with Gina and Pam. “Gina’s outta control, Pam’s outta control, THIS WHOLE FREAKING PARTY’S OUT OF CONTROLLLLLL!!!!”
3. Later in that same episode, Martin (who thinks Gina’s creeping on him) hides under the bed when Gina has the maintenance man fix her ‘clogged vent’. By the time the maintenance cat says, “When I finally pull this out, you are going to LOVE me!”, I was dying laughing without Martin’s facial expressions. This is immediately followed by one of the five worst ‘fake beatdowns’ you will ever see. Martin was a clown!
2. Maybe the greatest ‘little man paranoia’ story ever, had Martin having to stand up to Tommy ‘Hitman’ Hearns. The whole episode is classic, but when Martin feels slighted and calls out Hearns with the line. “Hey Tommy, I talked to Sugar (Ray). He says you’re the Get Hit Man!” Then he turns around and says ‘What?’ trying to punk some random dude out; that still kills me.
1. Martin’s CD player is missing. This leads to what to this day is still probably the best New Jack City parody you’ll ever see. Having everyone dressed in black, Martin plays the Nino role, threatening his friends with a toy Doberman. This was a taped television show, and you can still clearly see damn near the whole cast bust out laughing throughout the scene. Oh, and for story purposes, ‘Bruh Man’ borrowed Martin’s CD player. Remember Bruh Man?
Alright, as I debate whether my need to be objective is preventing me from ranking this show higher, I can tell you another classic sitcom awaits next month…