It took the cast of In Living Color just 25 minutes to make history. On January 26, 1992 Super Bowl XXVI featured the Washington D.C. football organization and the Buffalo Bills, with the NFC Champions coming out victorious, 37 to 24. But the real winners were the home viewing audience who tuned in for a special live halftime show on Fox.
The cast of Keenen Ivory Wayans’ popular In Living Color sketch comedy show had the bold idea to do a live version of their show during halftime of the Big Game. David Peisner, author of Homey Don’t Play That: The Story of In Living Color and The Black Comedy Revolution, documents the historic night in his book and shared some of his thoughts about it with BET.com in 2018.
“The whole idea of a doing a Super Bowl halftime show was unbelievably audacious. The Super Bowl was the biggest television event of the year. Other stations just ran reruns against it because it wasn’t worth programming against. So, this idea of ‘we’re gonna steal the Super Bowl audience at half time' was really sort of crazy and no one knew if it was going to work. And it did.”
The show started with Keenen and Damon’s “Homeboy Shopping Network” scalping tickets to the game and bestowing MVP honors for the “Most Valuable Perpetrator.” They were followed by Jim Carrey’s wildly popular Fire Marshall Bill character giving important tips for Super Bowl party safety. “Football and alcohol. A deadly combination!” he cautioned.
“It was revolutionary, man,” Jim Carrey tells BET.com while promoting his role as the evil Dr. Robotnik in the upcoming film Sonic The Hedgehog. “I remember that we all thought it was a kooky idea and we went ‘What have we got to lose, right?’
Carrey’s well-meaning but ill-informed Fire Marshall demonstrated the dangers of a waitress using a dartboard as a cocktail, doused himself in an electrifying Gatorade bath and spiked a bundle of dynamite blowing the roof off the bar, all in the name of fire safety.
“We had to do things live, so I had to do Fire Marshall Bill and I had never done it live before. Literally my face is cramping up, I don’t know if you notice it in the actual sketch. After a minute of this guy *makes face* with the tendons, it’s a little rough on the face scape. That was rough, but it was a blast.
I remember having so much fun and all of us being completely blown away at the impact. And if you’ll remember, I believe it was the very next year, they had somebody like Michael Jackson on for the halftime show. Until then it was marching bands and whatever, right? It definitely pushed it to another level.”
Their halftime show was indeed so popular that the NFL got the King of Pop to perform the very next year and has had a half time performer almost every year since, all thanks to innovative minds at In Living Color.
Watch our full interview with Jim Carrey below.