Chicago Sun Times: New Series from South Side Team Another Solid Gold Success

Chicago Sun Times: New Series from South Side Team Another Solid Gold Success

Remember when you saw YOUR first episode of “Sherman’s Showcase”?

Maybe it was back in the summer of 1972, when the iconic music/dance/comedy/variety show premiered.

Perhaps you hopped that “Showcase” train in the 1980s or 1990s — or even as recently as in the last couple of years, when “Sherman’s Showcase” kept the music coming, but also incorporated experimental segments such as the 2017 segment titled “Tiffany Haddish Tries Soup!” in which the multitalented Tiffany Haddish, um, tried soup.

For more than four decades, this legendary program has been a constant presence on the television landscape. And now, for the first time ever, you can get a partially complete, 23-DVD Box Set for just $19.99, and you can enjoy a comprehensive retrospective of the show on IFC’s “Sherman’s Showcase,” premiering Wednesday.

SPOILER ALERT:

It’s not real.

That is to say, “Sherman’s Showcase” IS a real show, but it’s 100%, brilliantly executed, hilariously spot-on parody, created by the rising-stars duo Bashir Salahuddin and Diallo Riddle.

Just last week we hailed the debut of the Salahuddin-Riddle Chicago-set comedy “South Side” on Comedy Central. With “Sherman’s Showcase,” that’s back-to-back home runs.

In the tradition and style of IFC’s sublime and yet ridiculous and quite great “Documentary Now” parody series, “Sherman’s Showcase” is a meticulously crafted and insanely goofy spoof, featuring fake-but-authentic-sounding musical numbers, clips from other fake TV shows and movies from various eras, and an all-star parade of familiar guest stars, including Quincy Jones, Morris Day, Common, Vic Mensa, Lil Rel Howery, Ray Parker Jr., Mario Van Peebles and Marlon Wayans.

Each episode, presented as an infomercial for that aforementioned boxed set collection, serves as a short documentary of sorts, with a different celebrity host introducing clips and providing historical context.

John Legend polishes his Emmy while hosting this week’s premiere of “Sherman’s Showcase.”
 IFC

This week’s premiere is hosted by John Legend (“People always ask me if my real name is John Legend. No, it’s SYDNEY Legend. John Legend is a stage name”), who tells us,

“ ‘Sherman’s Showcase’ was unlike anything on TV — except for several other shows.”

Cut to a scrolling graphic listing those shows, including:

“Soul Train”

“Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert”

“MTV’s The Grind with Eric Nies”

“Seinfeld” (Season 5)

“True Detective” (the last 10 minutes of that one episode)

“Power” (Do you watch it? It’s great)

Salahuddin kills as the show’s glitter-jacketed, sunglasses-sporting, egocentric but likable host, Sherman McDaniels. Riddle is equally effective as the show’s longtime producer, Dutch Shepherd.

In addition to musical numbers featuring fictional performers who look and sound like acts ranging from James Brown to Stevie Nicks, depending on the time period, “Sherman’s Showcase” includes historical footage of Sherman’s father, who hosted a radio program called “Sherman’s Song Parade of Colored Music,” and once tried to pull off a “War of the Worlds” type hoax with a phony broadcast claiming there was a race riot underway in Los Angeles.

Cut to a clip of “Sherman Sr.” behind the microphone, exclaiming: “Negroes with knives and forks and spoons are dining at the Brown Derby, instead of just making their jazz music!”

The razor-sharp writing extends to the trailers of fictional films such as “Black People Were Right: The Movie,” in which a pair of investigative journalists learn “every conspiracy black people believe in [is] true,” courtesy of their source, who is clearly Al Sharpton but is called “Off the Record Al, or ‘ORAL’ for short.”

Even when the satire in “Sherman’s Showcase” goes big and broad, the acting and the musical performances are so good, I found myself wishing there really WAS such a show.

I know I’d be watching every week.

Lane 44, Ltd., founding partner and Executive Director Debbie Holstein spent most of her childhood performing in theatrical productions, acting, singing and dancing.

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