Sketch and improv group Astronomy Club graced us with a pitch-perfect 2018 digital series on Comedy Central, and now they’re going big at Netflix. Their series there, Astronomy Club: The Sketch Show, is a loving send-up of black pop culture, from the “Magical Negro” trope to the proliferation of Madea films. These sketches manage to be both specific and universal, not to mention so, so funny.
Below, we’ve rounded up our favorite sketches from Astronomy Club’s Comedy Central and Netflix eras. Expect some appearances from everyone from a surprisingly astute Katt Williams to a tactless, peanut-obsessed George Washington Carver.
Dying of Thirst
“Dying of Thirst” imagines a meet-cute in the bottom of a slave ship initiated by a very, very thirsty captive. (“Did it hurt?” he asks. “When they captured me? When they beat me?” she says. “No,” he demures. “When you fell from heaven, girl.”) You can always find love in unexpected places.
Katt Williams Is Your Pimp Substitute Teacher
With an introductory “Greetings and salutations,” James III solidifies a spot-on impression of stand-up comedian Katt Williams. But it’s not just Katt Williams: It’s Katt Williams as a substitute teacher, enthralling his students with a “tragiclicious” retelling of Romeo and Juliet with a little help from a book called Shakespeare for Pimps. He’s also stellar at summarizing other Shakespeare works. Othello? “All the white people hate the one black person in the room, #GreenBookWasntGood.” Hamlet? “A white man loses his mind and then goes on a killing spree traveling through Europe. That’s white privilege!”
Madea Stole a Time Machine
What if Madea could use a Cadillac DeLorean to travel through time to important events? If the fake trailer for Madea Stole a Time Machine is any indication, we could expect to see Madea intervening in the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., Madea asking Jesus to turn water into Lawry’s at the last supper, and Madea inevitably mucking up the space-time continuum.
Magical Negro Rehab
In this frankly perfect sketch, all of your favorite black stock characters — from Ghost’s Oda Mae to ol’ Hoke Colburn from Driving Miss Daisy — go to rehab so they can stop doing what they were made to do: helping hapless white people on their journey. The sketch especially shines in the details, from the inspirational poster on the wall that reads “You’se can do it” to the group leader revealing that her father was a magical Negro himself (and yes, her dad is Morpheus from The Matrix).
A Meeting of Great Black Inventors
A group of underappreciated black inventors, including Madam C.J. Walker and Lewis Latimer, gather for some stimulating conversation. Unfortunately, they’re overshadowed and continuously interrupted by the peanut man himself, George Washington Carver. His obsession with peanuts is grating for sure, but so is his catchphrase: “You just peanut butter and jealous!”
In another one of our favorite sketches, it turns out Robin Hood may steal from the rich and give to the poor, but he never actually gave to all the poor — especially not to the people on the South Side of Sherwood. When the dude in green tights comes to take from the one rich black house in Nottingham, things go about how you’d expect.
“Like tense Champagne, it’s about to pop off!” In this delightful sketch, two 18th-century women expose each other’s foibles to a room that honestly can’t get enough. Tea is spilled then poured again, and everyone is read for filth. “I’m so very sorry for the death of your poodle,” Monique Moses’s character coos. “He’s quite alive,” Caroline Martin’s character says. “Oh, then what is your wig comprised of?”
A Witch Hunt in Black Salem
The Dwire sisters are accused of practicing witchcraft in Black Salem, but it turns out the men in town think a finger-wag and a side-eye from two strong, independent women must be some sort of incantation. Come for the men ignoring the literal crone kissing a frog and cosplaying as the Wicked Witch of the West, stay for the reveal that her witchcraft is specific to a … very specific organ.