The ‘Black-ish’ Showrunner Singles Out The Show’s Unexpected MVP, And He’s Not Wrong

Black-ish may be the best sitcom on network television right now, and the fact that it is a family sitcom that also covers serious social issues (in an amusing fashion) makes it unique in the network sitcom world. In its second season, it has remained as consistently funny and relevant as its freshman season.

Much of that has to do with the phenomenal cast. Anthony Anderson anchors it, along with Tracee Ellis Ross (daughter of Diana Ross, sister-in-law of Ashlee Simpson), along with a supporting cast of the best, least annoying child actors in all of television. The main cast is rounded out by Jenifer Lewis, who plays Andre’s mom, and Laurence Fishburne, who plays Pops. Fishburne is responsible for one of the five funniest sitcom episodes of last season, the phenomenal spanking episode.

However, none of those cast members are the MVP of the series, according to the showrunner, Kenya Barris (also known as the guy who called out Judd Apatow for obsessing over Bill Cosby). Kenya Barris believes Deon Cole to be the show’s secret comedic weapon. Black-ish viewers know him best as Charlie Telphy, Andre’s co-worker who always offers the old-school perspective.

How does Barris make him funny without making him come off as completely ridiculous, asked the New York Times:

A lot of that is just Deon Cole’s natural ability. We knew it was going to be Deon when we were writing the character. I’m a huge fan of writing for people rather than writing and then trying to wedge people in. I’d love to know who the people are before I can write for them. For me, it’s a much more organic way to create characters.

But Deon to me always was — I call them left-handed actors. Danny McBride is one. Jack McBrayer from 30 Rock is one. Actors who take a line and say it back in a way that you never thought it should be said, and it’s better than you thought it would be, but it’s completely different.

That’s a perfect description of Cole’s contributions to the show. He’s so expressive, it’s almost as though his eyes are delivering the punchlines.

For those of you unfamiliar with Cole previous to Black-ish, he was a long-time writer for Conan, also appearing semi-frequently on air. Here he is making fun of white people for standing ovations.

He also has a regular feature where he offers harsh truths on the news.

Source: New York Times