That’s My Mama

November 7th, 2018 by

The television show, That’s My Mama, was mentioned in a joke in the Eddie Murphy movie, Coming To America. Randy Watson, the lead singer of the band had starred in an episode as a police man. I thought it was just a fictitious show or one that ran in syndication through New York. This was pre-internet, so no one could just look up an off handed joke to check any depth or voracity it might have.

About seven years later, I was working second shift, got home, and turned on the television to relax. I was flipping channels, and I saw the opening song and credits for “That’s My Mama”. I thought “This show actually exists?”

That’s My Mama was originally broadcast on ABC. It was a somewhat political comedy and ran up against shows like, Good Times, Sanford & Son, etc. It revolved around a bachelor barber, Clifton Curtis, played by Clifton Davis, who lives in Washington D.C. with his mother, Eloise, played by Theresa Merritt. Clifton runs the barber shop his father owned, that was attached to the family’s home. Eloise was the good hearted, ever meddling mother, who wanted her bachelor son to settle down, and have grandchildren. The show followed this dynamic. Clifton had a sister who was married to a nerdy accountant. The woman who played the sister changed in the two seasons the show lasted.

The first season started with two customers who hung around the shop, Wildcat and Josh, played by Jester Hairston and DeForest Coven respectively. Included in the cast was Clifton’s army buddy, and mailman, Earl Chambers, who was played at first by Ed Bernard, who was replaced by Teddy Wilson. Teddy played characters in multiple shows, including an appearance in MASH. Rounding out the first season cast was Junior, played by Ted Lange, Isaac the Bartender of Love Boat fame. Unfortunately the show had poor numbers in the ratings, and rather than cancel the show, ABC ordered it retooled.

The second season involved more politics, and now Earl was working with Clifton in the barbershop. Gone were the two hang around customers. Junior remained, and instead of being more of a street wise hustler, he was now in college. The show did improve somewhat, but a mid-twenty year old war veteran living at home with his mom, even if the home was attached to the business did not work out well. Other more topical shows were doing far better in the ratings.

In some ways it is sad, because the show does have it’s own uniqueness, and is not bad overall when it comes to humor. That’s My Mama now can either be found in DVD format, if you search second hand stores, and it may be available on a streaming service. Last time I saw the show on TV, it was airing on one of the more obscure broadcast television stations.

If you are looking for some antique, and an obscure television comedy to watch, That’s My Mama is one I recommend. The humor is strong enough to overcome some of the topical political points, that are now dated.

Thanks for stopping by.

Barstool Entertainment

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