Sketch comedy shows have been around since the birth of television. Some were good, some not so good, and a handful are truly unforgettable. Following in the footsteps of his predecessors, Affion Crockett is hoping to tickle his viewers’ funny bone with his new series In the Flow with Affion Crockett, which premieres August 14th at 9:00 p.m. on Fox. It was his love of performing sketch comedy that inspired the actor/stand-up comedian to develop his latest project.
“I worked on a show for MTV called Wild’n Out and when I finished that I had a lot of ideas in my head about how I wanted to flesh out the characters I played on that show,” says Crockett, who also serves as an executive producer on In the Flow. “So I put a sample reel together and after receiving a great deal of positive initial online buzz, my [producing] partner Carl Jones and I took the idea to the network.
“They [the network executives] were really excited about it and wanted to do a show. At first it was a matter of them finding their footing with the show as far as how to properly support it and where its voice was coming from. We shot a few sketches with the network and they were like, ‘OK, we get the direction now and we’ll entrust Affion with its voice and vision.’
“The overall format of In the Flow is definitely sketch comedy. It has a bit of a Wild’n Out-type feel to it where I come out at the top of the show and do a live sketch in order to get the audience engaged and pumped up. From there, we go to taped sketches.
“Along with Wild’n Out, my show has a Dave Chappelle feel to it as well as Tracey Ullman, because I play a lot of characters in it. It’s taking a trip through my brain, which is why I call it In the Flow with Affion Crockett. I’m a big fan of people who can play multiple characters, including as I just mentioned Tracey Ullman, who’s definitely someone I look up to, and Ben Stiller, too. When he was on Fox he did an incredible job of playing all these different characters and celebrities, so In the Flow has a similar vibe to these comedians and their shows.”
Having honed his impression skills from an early age by imitating everyone from family members to feature film characters, Crockett will leave no stone unturned when it comes to who he will be poking good-natured fun at.
“At the end of the first episode there’s a sketch where we address the whole comparison to me and [the '90s TV show] In Living Color as well as Dave Chappelle, and it really brings it home in a very amusing way,” he reveals. “In another sketch, we do a parody of the Twilight feature film franchise. It deals with race relations, so there’s a little social commentary there.
“There’s a character I play called Marvin, who’s the most arrogant gospel singer you’ve ever met,” says Crockett with a chuckle. “He’s got a God complex and all his songs revolve around that. I also have a sketch called ‘Hustles with Russells’ where I play Russell Simmons’ clone. That’s another of those sketches that started on YouTube, and Russell was game enough to come onboard and continue it on my show.
“We have so many surprises on In the Flow along with guest-stars and people who really came through and supported the show. Again, these are people who I’m already a fan of, like Wendi McLendon-Covey from Reno 911! She came in and we did a sketch where we played off one another, and the great thing about that is that I already knew her to be very well-versed in imrprov, so to have the opportunity to sit down next to Wendi and trade wits with her was amazing.”
Having been a military brat and grown up in Germany as well as lived in North Carolina for a while, Crockett always wondered what it would be like to be on TV, and when he got older he was finally able to realize that dream.
“I started out my career as a dancer,” says Crockett. “I always believed that I would eventually dance for Michael Jackson and go on tour with him. There were some days, though, where I thought I wanted to be a really cool school teacher, and other days it was a really cool police officer. Then along the way, this comedy and acting thing just began unfolding and I went with it.”
After graduating from Fayetteville State University in North Carolina with a Bachelor’s degree in business, he got his big break performing on HBO’s Def Comedy Jam in 1996. Since then he has demonstrated not only his comedic talents but also his flair for the dramatic on such shows as CSI: NY, NYPD Blue, Curb Your Enthusiasm and Cedric the Entertainer Presents. As for the big screen, his credits include Dance Flick, Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins and Soul Men.
“I’ve had such a great career already and been able to work with so many of my heroes like Martin Lawrence, Bernie Mac, Larry David and Samuel L. Jackson,” enthuses Crockett. “It feels so good to know that the effort I’ve put in grants me the opportunity to showcase my work in front of these veterans of the business and people who I admire. They, in turn, respect me for what I do because they can see that I’ve studied as well as learned and am able to step up to the plate and give all that back in my performances.”