Hollywood Shuffle [1987]

The alumni of Hollywood Shuffle are spread across dozens of current comedies and TV sitcoms--this is the movie that introduced Robert Townsend and the Wayans Brothers to the world. Townsend plays a young actor who struggles with being offered stereotyped street hustler roles while trying to maintain his self-respect and the approval of his family. Between scenes of comically humiliating auditions, Bobby has satirical fantasies about the plight of black actors, including the classic "Black Acting School" sketch, in which white teachers demonstrate jive talk and street moves for the befuddled black students. Townsend has a charming, low-key comic style, one considerably more subtle than that of some of the black comics who have risen to success with supposedly self-aware renditions of the stereotypes Townsend mocks. Townsend made this movie on his credit cards and it is clearly a heartfelt labor of love. --Bret Fetzer

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