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“IN LIVING COLOR” ARCHIVE COLLECTION TO BE DONATED TO NATIONAL COMEDY CENTER

Photo provided by National Comedy Center, Jamestown, NY

JAMESTOWN, NY –

The National Comedy Center, the United States’ official cultural institution dedicated to the art form of comedy, announced today that it will be the permanent home of an extensive archive from the groundbreaking sketch comedy series In Living Color, which has been donated by the series’ co-creator and producer Tamara Rawitt. The comprehensive collection of scripts, creative materials, and artifacts illuminates the development, production process, and censorship battles surrounding the cutting-edge series, which helped put the fledgling Fox network on the map in 1990.

Tamara Rawitt collaborated closely with comedian/actor/writer Keenan Ivory Wayans on developing the pilot of In Living Color in 1990, after initially working with him as a producer on his American blaxploitation parody film I’m Gonna Git You Sucka. She would go on to produce 82 episodes of In Living Color, which launched the careers of many comedic artists, including Tommy Davidson, David Alan Grier, Jim Carrey, Jamie Foxx and Wayans family siblings Damon, Kim, Shawn and Marlon. With a fresh, fearless, outspoken and inclusive approach to sketch comedy that focused on the Black experience, the series quickly became one of the top-rated shows on Fox, and won the Emmy Award for Outstanding Music, Variety or Comedy Series in 1990.

The collection features hundreds of annotated script drafts and detailed network censor reports that showcase the creative debates that charged In Living Color’s raw, and often-controversial, approach to television comedy. The collection also includes set drawings, prop lists, and writers’ notes, as well as uncut and uncensored videotape masters ­­­– many not seen since their initial broadcasts.

“I’m thrilled to donate this one-of-a-kind In Living Color collection to the National Comedy Center, where it will live to tell the story of the show’s creation,” stated Tamara Rawitt. “I’m elated to know that future generates will be able to see these materials and learn how we brought this series to life despite creative and censorship issues. Together with the incredibly talented cast and writers, we imagined a new voice in sketch comedy, found a broad audience who connected with our work and charted a course for change in the TV industry’s approach to real representation, not to mention winning an Emmy in our first season!”

“In Living Color was a landmark television series that revolutionized comedy, broke creative boundaries and has influenced comedic artists for over thirty years now,” stated National Comedy Center Executive Director Journey Gunderson. “By showcasing these important creative materials, production notes and artifacts, we continue to fulfill the Comedy Center’s mission of celebrating comedy as an art form and preserving its heritage for generations to come. It’s a true honor for the National Comedy Center to become the home of this extraordinary collection.”

“I am most grateful to the National Comedy Center for preserving this material in its archives so that it can be appreciated by those who love great, groundbreaking comedy and inspire the next generation of creators with distinct voices that want to be heard,” added Rawitt.

“I’m excited that visitors to the National Comedy Center will now be able to experience what made this show so groundbreaking and lasting,” stated comedian and actor Tommy Davidson, one of the original, seminal cast members of In Living Color. “There will never be another show like this one and I’m so honored to have been one of the key creatives in its success.”

Since opening in 2018, the National Comedy Center has collaborated with dozens of artists and estates to preserve materials that represent comedy’s significant artistic, social, and political contributions to American culture including collections illustrating the careers of legendary artists like George Carlin, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, Lenny Bruce, Carl Reiner, Johnny Carson, the Smothers Brothers and more.

Within the Comedy Center’s museum galleries, more than 50 interactive exhibits and immersive experiences employ cutting-edge technology to present the story of comedy from its origins to the present day – using archival documents, artifacts, and media as their core. Its educational programming on the art form has featured Tiffany Haddish, George Lopez, Margaret Cho, Norman Lear, Debra Messing, Jay Leno, Kenan Thompson, Gabriel Iglesias, Ben Stiller, John Cleese, Jimmy Fallon, Lin-Manuel Miranda, “Weird Al” Yankovic and many more.

The National Comedy Center is a 501(c)(3) non-profit cultural institution whose mission is funded by philanthropic support. Donations and grants support the museum and its work to present the vital story of comedy and preserve its heritage for future generations. Visit comedycenter.org.