Gabrielle Dennis on HBO’s ‘A Black Lady Sketch Show’


“A Black Lady Sketch show” is a trip back to her roots for Gabrielle Dennis, who stars alongside Robin Thede on the HBO comedy series.

“I started out doing standup and sketch comedy — most people aren’t aware that that was my foundation,” Dennis, 39, told The Post.

“When I started making a name for myself in the industry, a lot of the jobs I was taking were more theatrical or more serious roles,” said Dennis about her appearances on Marvel’s “Luke Cage,” BET’s “The Game” and the Fox medical drama “Rosewood.”

“I just felt like I was going down this one lane where a lot of the casting directors were only seeing me for certain things … then, lo and behold, I get a text from Robin Thede and she says, ‘I’ve been following your career, I’m working on this show and I know that you’re hilarious and I don’t think the world knows that.’ Literally [this show] just fell into my lap kind of happenstance, and the timing couldn’t have been more perfect.”

Gabrielle Dennis in a courtroom sketch in "A Black Lady Sketch Show"
Gabrielle Dennis in a courtroom sketch in HBO’s “A Black Lady Sketch Show.”
Ali P. Goldstein/HBO

Returning for Season 2 on Friday (April 23) at 11 p.m., “A Black Lady Sketch Show” is exactly what it sounds like and features a cast primarily comprised of black actresses: Dennis, creator Thede, Ashley Nicole Black, Laci Mosley and Skye Townsend. Each half-hour episode features comedy sketches covering a variety of topics. 

For instance, one Season 2 sketch centers on a spy who’s so forgettable-looking that she’s able to escape an assassination attempt (because the would-be assassin overlooks her). Another features a group of women having a party at the end of the world; a third sketch revolves around a woman who’s tracing how her life went off track thanks to a game she played as a child.

A Black Lady Sketch Show" cast members Gabrielle Dennis (left) Quinta Brunson, Ashley Nicole Black, and Robin Thede (right)
“A Black Lady Sketch Show” cast members, from left: Gabrielle Dennis, Quinta Brunson, Ashley Nicole Black and Robin Thede.

Upcoming guest stars include singer Omarion, Ayesha Curry, Issa Rae (who also executive-produces the show) and Kim Wayans.

“One of my favorite days was working with Kim [Wayans] because she is the ultimate sketch-comedy queen goddess and that’s who I grew up watching,” said Dennis. “So getting to work with her…I think I had an out-of-body experience. I literally yelped when she walked up. It was so funny, and she was so kind and down-to-earth.”

Although she’s done sketch comedy before around clubs in LA, Dennis said that the mostly female cast in “A Black Lady Sketch Show” opens doors for more roles beyond what the genre typically allows. 

Ashley Nicole Black (left) and Gabrielle Dennis (right) in "A Black Lady Sketch Show"
Ashley Nicole Black (left) and Gabrielle Dennis in skit from “A Black Lady Sketch Show.”
Ali P. Goldstein/HBO

“My first sketch comedy show was with Damon Wayans — ‘The Underground’ for Showtime. It was my very first year out in LA, my first big show and I thought ‘Oh, I’ve arrived, I made it!’ Myself and EdiePatterson were  the only girls on that show. It was this great experience, but even in that space you’re kind of limited to what you can do.

“But with [‘A Black Lady Sketch Show’], it feels very limitless, because I’m able to play a variety of roles. Because there are no men on our show, there have been times when I’ve played a man, or times where you’re just playing things that are out of this world. I’ve always admired Jamie Foxx — he’s always been the blueprint of what I feel like an artist’s career can be, because he’s done everything.” 

In addition to “A Black Lady Sketch Show,” Dennis is also pulling double-duty, appearing in the Netflix sitcom “The Upshaws” co-starring Wanda Sykes and Mike Epps (premiering May 12). 

Kim Fields (left), Mike Epps, and Gabrielle Dennis (right) on "The Upshaws"
Kim Fields (left), Mike Epps, and Gabrielle Dennis on “The Upshaws.”

“Mike Epps and Kim Fields are in a  relationship [on the show] during a point in time that they had taken a break, Mike’s character had another son,” she said. “I will be the mother of said son.

“It’s a very funny show. They’re middle-class, and I pop in every now and again with the drama that comes with raising a child with two parents who aren’t in the same household. We look at things differently with our parenting tactics, so I get to be some comedic relief.”


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