Homey the Clown

Homey the Clown

Funny, but better left back in the 90s!

 

It's funny how you can utterly forget something so ubiquitous, only to have it all come flooding back when you're reminded of it later. Such was the case for me many times over watching the "25 Years of FOX" show last Sunday, which was basically a clip show from their 25 years on the air. 
 
In a lot of ways, the 1990s belonged to FOX. It wedged its way onto the air in 1989, and quickly developed a reputation as a network aimed at a younger, hipper, edgier audience. Also an "urban" audience, and we all know what "urban" means when you say it like that, with the air quotes, right? Right.

 
Homey the Clown was, like so many bits of pop culture detritus, a funny thing that then got picked up by mainstream Middle America as a replacement for humor. "Homey don't play that" was Homey the Clown's catchphrase, and oh how that catchphrase took on a life of its own. Along with "talk to the hand," "where's the beef," variants of "Got milk," (and more recently, "can you hear me now?" and "there's an app for that") "Homey don't play that" seemed like something that a certain kind of person would never tire of saying. Even though it hadn't elicited more than an awkward chuckle for years.
 
Homey the Clown was born of the early FOX hit show, In Living Color. This variety show aired every Sunday night, and featured an amazing amount of talent, launching the careers of the Wayans brothers, Jim Carrey, Jamie Fox, and David Alan Grier. Not to put too fine a point on it, but it was basically a black Saturday Night Live that aired on Sunday primetime. 
 
Like SNL, In Living Color featured many recurring characters. One of these was Homey the Clown, a disaffected ex-con forced by a parole agreement to work as a clown, played by Damon Wayans. Homey the Clown was funny in so far as it subverted the usual expectation for clowns: that they are self-effacing and white. This one was sass-talking, overtly political, uninterested in being a clown, and black. 
 
It was funnier than I made it sound.
 
At least briefly.
 
In every sketch, a kid will demand that Homey do something traditionally clown-like, such as making balloon animals or honking his nose. Homey, who refuses to stoop to the level of letting little kids demean him, bonks the kids on the head while snapping, "Homey don't play that!"
 
Homey the Clown: you are one thing I am happy to leave behind in the 90s!