‘South Side’ workplace sitcom shows extent of darkness
The running gag in a comedy scene filmed by the Comedy Central Network has to do with the venerable Chicago institution Harold’s Fried Chicken on West 63rd Street in Englewood.
A man walks in, orders his chicken and asks for an extra mild sauce. The manager won’t give her any more because she said he single-handedly harmed the sweet sauce industry with the number of sweet sauces he was constantly asking for.
It’s a taste of humor in a new show South side. It’s a comedy set in a hire-purchase store that wrapped up filming in the city this week.
Even a workplace sitcom feels the weight of trying to accurately portray black Chicago. When the rest of the country hears about the south side of Chicago, all too often it is gun violence.
“We want to show you that this is a place that has philosophers, astronomers, teachers and people who will sell you stuff on the streets and people who will come to your house and fix your car better than anyone,” said Bashir Salahuddin, executive producer of South side.
In other words, the extent of darkness.
It’s personal for Salahuddin, a graduate of Whitney Young Magnet High School. He attended Harvard University, but the lure of theater and drama thwarted his plans to become a doctor. He has written for several television shows including Late the night with Jimmy Fallon.
“I grew up 83rd and Halsted and 72nd and Constance, and my Chicago experience is a lot more fun and joyful. And my experience of Chicagoans is a lot happier and more positive, and it’s really important to show that and show a more complete picture, ”said Salahuddin.
That’s not to say that it erases the challenges the city faces. South side is funny while focusing on employees trying to get ahead in the face of socio-economic and political challenges.
Season 1 of South side is expected to debut next year. A number of Chicago comedians and actors will be presented such as Lil rel howery and LisaRaye McCoy. And many are behind the camera as writers. The sitcom was filmed at the South Shore Cultural Center and Kennedy-King College. And the show will introduce the audience to fun and promising men and women.
Salahuddin said that when local residents saw the crew filming, they did two things: ask to be an extra or ask if the show was going to give the south side a bad image.
For the latter, Salahuddin answers of course no. South side will appear on the network that gave us pop culture staples like Chappelle show, The daily show, and South Park. With that kind of stage, maybe the world will start to see the south side of how Salahuddin and other South Siders have long seen it.
Natalie Moore is the reporter for the south side of WBEZ. Follow her on Twitter at @natalieymoore.