The seeds of what would eventually become “Sherman’s Showcase” had been sitting inside the minds of Bashir Salahuddin and Diallo Riddle for well over 10 years. For them, the idea of satirizing a variety show was a no-brainer. “We do all these different things because the rubric of a variety show allows it. The reason we picked the variety show is because for years we’ve been obsessed with them,” says Salahuddin in our recent webchat (watch the video above). Riddle, who co-created the project elaborated that part of the idea also came about after they had performed silly songs on Jimmy Fallon’s show. “We were like, ‘Let’s see if we can do a show where we can do this all the time.’ And IFC was like, ‘We don’t know about all the time, but how about eight episodes?’
“Sherman’s Showcase” centers on the fictitious, titular program that’s been airing since the mid-1970s. The show-within-a-show features musical performances, dance numbers, game show bits, movie trailers and commercials and is presented in the format of an infomercial selling a DVD box-set of the show’s best moments. Salahuddin and Riddle have been working together since the mid-2000s when they began to produce their own web videos. In 2009, the pair were hired as writers on “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.” They worked there for several years, earning an Emmy nomination for Variety Series Writing in 2011.
The duo have used “Sherman’s Showcase,” not just to make fun of shows like “Soul Train” and “The Midnight Special,” but also to highlight regional music that might not be as well known. An example of this is in the third episode that features Kenny Brown and the Waste Basket Band performing a go-go song called “We the Black Kids In the White School.” Go-go is a blending of funk, R&B and soul music that originated in Washington, D.C. Salahuddin explains, “Diallo and I worked really hard to ensure that when it’s time to make a song for ‘Sherman’s Showcase’ that the person who’s doing the original songwriting is a bad-ass musician who loves it.”
The response to the show from critics has been near-universal praise with the program sitting on a Rotten Tomatoes score of 100%. It premiered an hour-long “Black History Month Spectacular” last month and has been picked up for a second season. Riddle says that the response hasn’t been shocking but that he does feel immensely grateful that people have responded in the way that they have. “I don’t know if surprised is the right word but we’re very happy that people enjoyed season one and the Black History Month Spectacular that we just did. We’re happy that we put our heart and soul into something and that they appreciated it.”
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