Kenya Barris, creator of ABC’s hit Black-ish, is executive producing a new sketch comedy show entitled Astronomy Club. The name of the show is also the name of the New York improv group that will write and star in the series. The Astronomy Club was the first all-black house team at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre. The improv group formed in 2013. Group members that will be on the show include Shawtane Bowen, Jonathan Braylock, Ray Cordova, James III, Caroline Martin, Jerah Milligan, Monique Moses and Keisha Zollar. The group became very popular for their recurring skit called “A Journey Thru Black History.” This sketch series used the members’ experiences to satirize racial oppression in America. However, cast member Milligan said the show will not only focus on race, “There’s a cultural revolution happening right now where more women and people of color are getting the chance to tell stories based on their own experiences, but also stories that just show them as human beings whereas these stories don’t have to be about the skin color or about their gender, it can just be about them as people. It feels really good to be able to impact society in that way and I think the show is going to do well because of that.”
I HAVE SOME NEWS!
Netflix has ordered the variety sketch series “Astronomy Club” from @funnyblackdude‘s Khalabo Ink Society and Daniel Powell’s Irony Point. The six episode, half-hour series will star the New York-based improv and sketch comedy group of the same name. 👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾 pic.twitter.com/GZWCKNvcm7
— Strong Black Lead (@strongblacklead) July 16, 2019
The Astronomy Club show is expected to feature sketches that utilize comedy to explore complex and timely topics, from social issues to pop culture to the black American experience. Braylock explains the show to Variety, “Instead of doing the normal sketch show, we kind of have a show within a show. So our interstitials will be kind of a heightened fake reality show with all of us living in one house together because Netflix doesn’t have money to give us a bigger house. So we kind of have all these wonderful characters that are heightened versions of ourselves. And we have very, very loose plot lines that take us through each episode. So that way people can have a break from the sketches, they get to know us.”
The show received a six episode order from Netflix. Astronomy Club will be part of Barris’s overall deal with Netflix. The eight figure deal keeps Barris at Netflix for three years. Netflix’s Vice President of Originals, Cindy Holland, said, “Kenya Barris is one of our great modern storytellers. Kenya uses his voice to make audiences more aware of the world around them, while simultaneously making them laugh. His honesty, comedic brilliance and singular point of view, combined with the creative freedom he will enjoy at Netflix, promises to create powerful new stories for all our members around the world.” Barris will produce Astronomy Club alongside Daniel Powell (Inside Amy Schumer) of Irony Point.
The Netflix series will not be the Astronomy Club’s first on-screen appearance. The improv group also had a show for Comedy Central. Watch one of their skits below.