It’s good to be bad.. Sinbad, that is. After way too long away from sitcoms, the big man is back doing what he does best: bringing attitude and making us laugh. He’s back in a new sitcom, Rel, which premieres tonight on FOX after football, before moving to its regular timeslot of Sundays at 9:30 ET.
Tempted By Television
This almost didn’t happen. Sinbad told The Cocktail that doing another sitcom wasn’t even on his radar. “I don’t wanna come back and do a sitcom,” he said, “cuz I was blessed with some great sitcoms, so I didn’t want to do anything less than what I’d done before.” But then he got wind of Rel. “It’s a relief and it’s fun. I didn’t know what I was gonna do when I got back to TV. I didn’t think I’d come back and do sitcom. I didn’t.”
So what brought him out of sitcom retirement? “It was Lil Rel. I been watching him. I didn’t know him well, I just been watching him, which is even better. I became a fan of his.”
Lil Rel Howery was the breakout star of last year’s breakout hit, Get Out. He played the friend who tried raising red flags to police, while sounding like a conspiracy theorist spouting a conspiracy theory that would make real conspiracy theorists shake their head!
Now Lil Rel has his own show, which he uses to showcase some exaggerated stories from his life and the lives of his family and friends. In Rel, he’s getting divorced after his wife cheats on him with his barber. That’s cold!
He leans on his childhood BFF, his fresh-out-of-prison brother, and his Dad, played by Sinbad. “They’re all trying to heal each other in their own way.”
Healing is all well and good, but papa don’t gots time for a lot of self-pity and boohoo’ing. In one scene he asks Rel “All that money I spent on you for glasses as a child and you didn’t see this coming?” It sounds harsh, but that’s just the pilot episode. Sinbad told us he’s still developing his character. “I know they’re trying to figure out who I am and I have my thing ‘let me try it this way and let me try it that way.'”
It’s a process Sinbad does every time he takes on a new project. However his approach has mellowed matured with age. “As I’ve gotten older I’ve learned to be more diplomatic. Back in the day ‘damn I ain’t saying this!’ But now I’m like ‘hey man let’s try this and that.’ And they’re open to that.” Making it easier this time around is having a strong, collaborative relationship with Lil Rel. “Rel really respects me and I really respect Rel. So I think we have a hit. I really do.”
Even though he has mad history doing sitcoms, especially compared to the rest of the cast, Sinbad told us he’s figuring it out as he goes, just like the rest of the crew. “It’s like the blind leading the blind. But he’s trying to figure it out.”
But isn’t the blind leading the blind the best way to make good (or disastrous) television? “You can’t beat the blind leading the blind. I should do a sitcom called The Blind Leading the Blind.” So for now, Sinbad and company has one goal: “We gotta keep steppin’.”
The Critic’s Cocktail Recommendation
There’s no use crying over a broken heart, but you can cry over a drink. For Rel, pour yourself a Crybaby. It’s a gin and sour beer based cocktail. But mix it with Rel and you’ll be crying, not laughing.