Netflix highlights Black comedy: ‘Astronomy Club’ provides relatable humor

| Senior Cadenza Editor

Sketch comedy isn’t my thing. “SNL” maybe has a couple of sketches that I like, but I’m not a fan of a lot of them; everyone else seems to laugh, so objectively I have to assume that they’re funny.

I’ve never watched anything on Comedy Central, so I assumed that maybe my sense of humor was broken—the majority of entertainment media that people tended to find funny, I just didn’t. But now I’m in the mainstream (kind of). At the beginning of this year, I noticed the release of a new Netflix show, “Astronomy Club.” I didn’t know what it was so I didn’t watch it—it sounded science-y and that’s not my cup of tea. However, a few weeks ago, I decided to give it a chance and I was pleasantly surprised.

‘Astronomy Club’ is a Netflix original sketch comedy series featuring an all-Black cast of comedians from the Astronomy Club, a New York-based improv and sketch comedy group formed in 2014. Eight team members—Jonathan (Jon) Braylock, Shawtane Bowen, Raymond (Ray) Cordova, Caroline Martin, Jerah Milligan, Monique Moses, Keisha Zollar and James III—make up “Astronomy Club,” which is also the Upright Citizens Brigade’s first all-Black team.

Their self-titled show, “Astronomy Club,” is the “SNL” that I can relate to. This is not to say that “SNL” doesn’t have good content, because it does. It’s to say that I can relate to everything in this show because I have a connection with it—every joke is a Black joke because they’re Black people who are highly skilled at what they do. They make people laugh, and they make me laugh. While they do create a sketch comedy show, it has an interesting twist. Various sketches are mixed with reality TV-style clips that feature all eight cast members living together in a house: the Astronomy Clubhouse.

Every episode starts with a sketch before the opening credits. The sketches themselves tackle a range of topics, but they focus on the experience of African Americans, race relations and the media’s representation and attitude towards Black people, especially when it comes to film. The show is also a commentary on pop culture and politics that showcases the Black perspective on what it means to be Black today while maintaining the jokes and comedy.

The reality TV element comes in between the individual sketches, including “Big Brother”-style confessionals where the team talks directly to the camera. Throughout these segments, they act as over-the-top versions of themselves so that the audience can get a better understanding of who they are as people.

“Astronomy Club” never runs out of laughs, whether with a joke about the phrase “Black don’t crack” and someone getting so old that their skin finally cracks or about a pimp who becomes a substitute high school English teacher to fulfill his community service hours. There are things in this show that I didn’t think I would find funny or knew I thought were funny. “Astronomy Club” has brought a sense of humor that I didn’t know could be touched by a sketch comedy show.

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