UPDATED: Wednesday, Oct. 12, 9:16 P.M. EST:
With news of Tommy Ford‘s untimely passing, NewsOne takes a stroll down memory lane to check out the start of the Martin sitcom, where the actor earned his name.
Watch best scenes with Tommy below:
VIDEO CREDIT: YouTube
After appearing in small parts in film and television in the late ’80s to early ’90s, comedian, actor, and producer Martin Lawrence would make a big splash on network television with the Fox network series Martin.
The show made its debut on August 27, 1992 as part of a block of programming that included the hit programs Livin’ Single, starring Queen Latifah and Kim Fields, and New York Undercover, starring Malik Yoba and Michael DeLorenzo.
Battling for ratings supremacy against NBC’s Thursday night format, Martin had the weighty task of luring viewers away from The Cosby Show, A Different World,” and Seinfeld.
Martin was set in the city of Detroit with Lawrence as main character disc jockey Martin Payne. Lawrence was paired in the show with Tisha Campbell-Martin, who played Gina Waters. Much like his stand-up act, Martin’s character was brash and extreme, leading to comical confrontations and zany situations with best friends Tommy Strawn, played by Thomas Mikal Ford and Cole Brown, played by Carl Anthony Payne II.
Gina’s best friend, Pamela James, played by Tichina Arnold, verbally sparred with Martin often on the show and resulted in big belly laughs in their war of insults. Saturday Night Live alum Garrett Morris also played the role of Stan Winters, Martin’s boss at the radio station.
One of the hallmarks of the show was Lawrence playing several characters, including females such as Sheneneh Jenkins, the loud and confrontational neighbor from across the hall who had questionable taste in friends and fashion.
Lawrence also took on the role of Edna “Mama” Payne, taking no care in covering up his thick mustache when in character as well as other characters such as tired pimp Jerome, security guard Otis, marital arts expert Dragonfly Jones, and Hustle Man.
The show would suffer in ratings toward the end of its five-year run, with some speculating that tension on the set led to the demise of the show. In 1996, Campbell filed a lawsuit against Lawrence and the other show producers for sexual, physical, and verbal abuse. HBO Studios settled out of court with Campbell, and for the show’s final season in 1997, she would not appear in any scenes with Lawrence on the set.
Martin lives on in nationwide syndication on stations such as *TV One and MTV2 and its comic legacy remains wholly intact. Several sitcoms with African-American casts would never follow the show’s formula of slapstick comedy quite to the level it was performed there, but the program certainly helped lead the way for following shows to feature comics-turned-actors such as Bernie Mac and Cedric The Entertainer.
NewsOne salutes Ford, Lawrence and the entire Martin cast. Thanks for the laughs.
What were some of your favorite episodes from the Martin show? Let us know in comments.
*NewsOne is part of Interactive One, a division of Radio One, which owns interests in TV One.
PHOTO CREDIT: Getty | VIDEO CREDIT: YouTube