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Series / Sherman's Showcase

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Sherman's Showcase is an adult comedy series airing on IFC that was created by Comedian Bashir Salahuddin with the help of musician Diallo Riddle.

The heavily serialized anthology series follows the Show Within a Show Within a Show, a parody of Soul Train, Solid Gold, Midnight Special, Solid Bronze, and other American music/variety series. It's host, Sherman McDaniels, guides segments with a big personality, as he does his best to both exhibit top, usually African-American acts through the decades, starting on July 1st, 1972.

I'll fill in links as I go along. I am doing the best I can here, while trying not to let the Funk Monster (edit lock) catch me.


This show provides examples of the following tropes:

  • The Abridged Series: The show is framed as an infomercial, collecting the best bits of a series that has been on for at least forty-one years. It's never actually stated whether it's still on. Clips are from as late as September 21st 2019. A clip from an episode that aired on September 11th, 2019. Because reasons.
  • Acceptable Breaks from Reality: Quincy Jones is depicted as the wise, master EGOT, even though he's never actually earned an Oscar in his career; rather, holding a Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award instead.
  • Acme Products: Sherm-Tel makes all of the fake products regularly featured.
  • Acrofatic: Salahuddin's Fast Freddy Payne impersonation shows that the big man clearly has agility and energy.
  • Adam Westing: Executive Producer John Sidney Legend, Quincy Jones, etc. I'm pretty sure no one gives nearly as much a damn as they pretend to about being EGOTs as they boastfully do.
  • Advertisement:
  • Affectionate Parody: Sherman's Showcase is pretty much just that of Soul Train and Saturday Night Live. There are many other shows like Soul Train, but Showcase is primarily that, peppered with time period appropriate sketches.
  • Alliterative Title: Ray J even calls it out during the first season finale: "Sherman's Showcase? That don't even sound right. Don't nobody wanna hear all that alliteration."
  • Alternate History: Since this show never existed, Sherman never introduced any act to the world.
  • Aluminum Christmas Trees: Duane Eddy was a real artist during the prime Berry Gordy involvement era, but he never actually worked for Motown Records.
  • Anachronic Order: In keeping with the infomercial format, episodes are tied together by clips sharing a theme, zigzagging through the program's history.
  • Arc Words: Everyone who's encountered Frederick Douglass has said after he departs "Man, ain't nobody gonna believe this!". The first season finale brings this to a head.
  • Artifact of Attraction: The EGOT toaster. Though heavily referenced in the first four episodes, the entire EGOT thing seems to have been dropped entirely; not even mentioned in the next three episodes.
  • Artistic License – History: There was never any show called Jabberjaw or The Amazing Chan and the Chan Clan. Actually, that's one of the 20% of things openly stated on the show that's accurate.
  • As Himself: Morris Day, Common, Curt Menefee, Colleen Camp, Ray Parker Jr., Ray J.
  • Aside Glance: Frederick Douglass just cannot help himself from doing it during every single product pitch.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: John Legend tried so hard to Mind Screw with Common by writing a musical for him "so that he can earn a Tony Award, making him an EGOT", but in reality he didn't actually want Common to succeed. Or something. Whatever. It epically failed.
  • Black Sitcom: If you see a white person, it's for a cheap joke or to highlight a black character.
  • Blatant Lies: A "Classic Bumper" from April 8th, 1989 has Sade announcing "You're watching Sherman's Showcase on IFC". IFC launched on December 1st, 1994.
  • Can't Take Criticism: Sherman always chastises and flat out buries employees who speak out against him. Usually, if he sneaks up on them while they critique him they are savvy enough to backpedal.
  • Crosses The Line Twice: Sherman's Dancers gave Sherman a lot of leeway in sticking around for a Country Music performance by Cody McCoy. As innocent as his diddy was about a (ra)Coon On The Moon was, ending with "Where'd they find a coon smart enough to fly a rocket?" was enough to piss everyone off and lead to race riots in thirteen of their affiliate cities.
  • Couch Gag: The opening animation and music is usually different each episode, though the Funk Monster is always there.
  • Dark Reprise: Executive Meddling turns Have a Good Time into Louder Than Lies. Mary J. Blige was singing a very positive song, but Sherman's Dancers were showing complete disdain for the break in her usual style, so Sherman intervened by sending her a breakup text disguised as from her boyfriend. The result was a much more warmly received performance. After she found out about the deception, she not only didn't care; she appreciated the motivation.
  • Desk Sweep of Rage: The Venice Pier Futbol Club guys run off the stage after the first twenty seconds of their performance and immediately encounter a table for Sherman's green room guests just offstage. After manually destroying the plants on it, they do this to the remaining glasses and a vase.
  • Do Not Call Me "Paul": The expy of Geoffrey from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air in the Day In, Day Out sketch put the brakes on Master Morris calling him a butler real quick.
  • Epic Fail: John Legend. He wrote Blockbuster: The Musical as a pretend premise to try to help earn Common a Tony Award. He didn't really want Common to win the award. But Common did.
  • Expy: Subverted. On the one hand, Prince is dead and therefore couldn't have possibly played himself. On the other hand, the entire episode about Charade, quite patently obviously meant to portray Prince is narrated by Morris Day. Being that Morris Day was essentially a real life expy employee of Prince himself, its ambiguous whether Prince could have been persuaded to do the episode himself.
  • Failed a Spot Check: After the attempted charity event, Pepper Spraye is obviously about to attack Sherman, but even with shades on it's implied that she gets him... for the first time.
  • Fat Suit: The one that Salahuddin wears to portray Big Freddy Payne is painfully obvious.
  • Flipping the Table: The Venice Pier Futbol Club guys do this to a craft services table.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: A lot of good jokes go into Sherman's Dancers details, provided on-screen, but they usually only stay long enough to be barely read.
  • Funny Robot: The Funk-A-Tron 2000 cares about finding good wines for some reason.
  • Gospel Music: Drop It Low For Jesus. The lyrics make it seriously debatable whether it is just R&B or a genuine appreciation of Jesus. The verse does a good job of arguing a desire to love the Lord. Even though it's patently sexual.
  • Hakuna Matata: Mary J. Blige only makes good music when 'Mary sad'.
  • Homage: Subverted. Day In, Day Out at first glance seems like one of The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air if it were written around Morris Day, but given that executive producer Quincy Jones helped construct the Pastiche sketch, it could just be an alternative continuity situation.
  • Hot Men at Work: One of Mary J. Blige's apparent booking requirements is to have two of the sexiest of Sherman's male dancers toplessly fan her with a large feather and hand feed her fruit.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Having said the F word on multiple occasions up to 2009, seems like this for Sherman to chastise Latricia the Magician.
  • Interactive Narrator: Sometimes Shepherd, sometimes a close friend or admirer of the featured artist will guide the audience through an episode's clips from a set through voiceover and directly addressing the camera.
  • Invisible Means Undodgeable: Latricia the Magician failed miserably at her first attempt at going invisible for the audience. Then, after she publicly assaulted her assistant, as Sherman's security guard was bearing down on her, she performed the trick flawlessly and then went ham on everybody to escape the punishment.
  • It's All About Me: During a viewer mail segment from a 2010 episode, Sherman read a letter from a fan asking for more White Music. Sherman immediately crumples the letter in his hand and rants "Okay, this is Sherman's Showcase, not Becca's Showcase. You want a show for your music that you wanna listen to? Start your own goddamn show, Becca! That's right; no one gives a shit what you got to say, Becca. Eat a dick!"
  • Lack of Empathy: Sherman will not allow Diana Ross' obvious pain to get in the way of selling his fancy poison.
  • Lampshade Hanging: More scenes are built around this trope than not.
  • Large Ham: Sherman. For days. Regular scenery diet and No Indoor Voice.
  • Loophole Abuse: Stands to reason that Quincy Jones' EGOT status will always be an Informed Attribute to never be discussed.
  • MacGuffin: John Legend accidentally got Common EGOT status. But he and Quincy Jones will be damned before they let him receive an EGOT toaster!
  • Metaphorically True: Quincy Jones is an EGOT because he got a completely subjective free award from the Academy of Arts and Sciences, even though he completely lacks the O part. You'll understand the logic when you're famous.
  • The Musical: 80% of the sketches involve a dissertation of black music. The rest are straight parodies and faux advertisements.
  • Musicalis Interruptus: Diana Ross' Hope You Brought (Your Dancing Shoes, Loverboy) is interrupted by Sherman for a message about trash liquor. It burns her mouth and causes her to keel over in pain.
  • No Historical Figures Were Harmed: Frederick Douglass Once per Episode.
  • Non-Linear Edit: During the Venice Pier Futbol performance, the band grabs random potted plants and playfully rage smashes them to the ground. The video slows as they throw downward and there's a cut to seeing the floor where the plants hit. Though there are some pot pieces in the background, its clear if you can focus for the two seconds that the plants in this shot have no pot casings; they're just the plants.
  • Noodle Incident: Scat Master Crothers.
  • No Woman's Land: Inverted. Sherman's woman rapper rap battle (which they agreed to in advance and Sherman's Dancers knew what they were going to see) only resulted in everyone bashing him for being male.
  • Older Than Cable TV: On since 1972.
  • Old Master: Quincy Jones. He's presented alongside John Legend, judging things.
  • Only Sane Man: Dutch Shepherd constantly corrects Sherman during tapings loudly over the studio intercom if he feels Sherman has gotten something wrong.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: Big Freddy Payne is so painfully obviously just an older, fatter Fast Freddy Payne, rather than the tribute artist that he claims to be, that after the first verse of his performance of Running, Sherman's Dancers can't help themselves from calling him out on it.
  • Parody Commercial: Once per Episode there's a real advertisement for a fake product, usually introduced by Frederick Douglass. During the actual commercial breaks they have advertisements of an album of the seriously produced for the program songs appearing sporadically throughout the season. After the penultimate episode of the first season they released a series EP for free on online streaming platforms.
  • Pastiche: Casual Prince fans will probably mistake Vic Mensa for the man. Hardcore Prince fans may wonder if Prince actually wrote Vicki, Is the Water Warm Enough?
  • Rhythm and Blues: Nearly all of the music featured on the program is R&B, jazz, funk or soul, and nearly entirely by African-American artists.
  • Sassy Black Woman: Pepper Spraye takes her job seriously. Enough to constantly punish the host when he steps out of line too.
  • Schoolyard Bully All Grown Up: Billy Rolands is a famous talent worldwide. He also went to high school with McDaniels. A point that when Sherman invited him on the Showcase in 2001, he wasn't afraid to bring back in full force during his segment. Sherman's Dancers were completely into him openly mocking their boss. Ambiguous whether Rolands is just that persuasive or justified in that the show has demonstrated that Sherman has always been a complete jerkass to his staff.
  • Series Mascot: The Funk Monster. If you find this card, your friend gets to slap you and take $11.
  • Shout-Out: Superman.
  • Show Within a Show: Within a show. The highest level is that the entire program is an infomercial. This level is played straight. The second level is the presented program, Sherman's Showcase. On-stage performances within the featured program are heavily lampshaded or outright driven by the collective reactions of Sherman's Dancers, thus making the main program a show for them, making three levels of show.
  • The Singularity: During a segment promoting the show's history, Nigel Lythgoe notices and prods a slip of the tongue by Funk-A-Tron 2000 which has him revealing that it may have already happened; the robots just haven't told us yet.
  • Some of My Best Friends Are X: "We've had plenty of White music on the show: Jay Sean, Jason Derulo, we even had Flo Rida on the show twice. My point being, young Becca: Not all White Music is performed by White people" — Sherman, answering a fan letter.
  • Spontaneous Choreography: The first segment of the first episode was a grandiose dance number. Sherman lampshaded it by stating that every episode would begin this way. Whether he did it or not isn't clear because of the infomercial format.
  • Springtime for Hitler: John Legend wrote Blockbuster: The Musical specifically to bust and fail for Common. While Legend's motivations are undefined, instead of being the failure that he wanted, Common got that Tony Award.
  • Supporting Protagonist: Bashir Salahuddin may be whom you're told is the star of the show as he portrays its host, but it doesn't take long to notice that in every episode, in nearly every skit Diallo Riddle is there without the presence of Salahuddin, and Riddle is the singer or an instrumentalist in nearly every musical performance. His screen time amounts to about 85%, making it really his show. Given that on their appearance together on Late Night with Seth Meyers, Riddle sits in the chair close to Meyers and Salahuddin occupied the couch far away, they know who's show it actually is.
  • Trash the Set: The Venice Pier Futbol Club Anthem sketch starts off as a normal stage performance. Technically, the only thing on *set* they destroy is a bowl of popcorn on a podium, but 20 seconds later, they've roamed off the set and begin trashing the entire studio.
  • Villainous Breakdown: John Legend upon seeing that Common won a Tony Award.
  • You Have GOT to Be Kidding Me!: Pepper Spraye does not appreciate Sherman not understanding why Diva Cups is a very bad idea. Because she tells him as much, then openly prepares to douse him in mace.