Like any good “Martin” fan, we love us some Sheneneh. We can still sing her theme song (“Forever Sheneneh“) and will be the first in line to see the Sheneneh/Wanda crossover movie that Jamie Foxx and Martin Lawrence were taunting us with a while back. But if you’ve watched as much “Martin” as we have, you know that Sheneneh isn’t the only character Martin Lawrence played during the show’s five-year run. Join us as we take a look back at some other wacky “Martin” characters who spouted memorable lines, broke out into random dance numbers and creepily flirted with Pam.
After Sheneneh, the sass-mouthed, perpetually snot-nosed 10-year-old Roscoe is easily the best-remembered “Martin” character. Whether trick-or-treating at the crack of dawn or hustling his pals with loaded dice, Roscoe is always getting on Gina’s last nerve. No fancy special effects were needed to bring Roscoe to life–the character is just Martin Lawrence on his knees. Imagine how much money Peter Jackson could’ve saved on “The Lord of the Rings” if Lawrence had played Bilbo.
Quick with a cutting remark or smack to the head, Edna “Momma” Payne is something of trial run for Martin Lawrence’s “Big Momma’s House” character. Momma Payne’s love for her son is nearly matched by her hatred for Gina, who is constantly on the receiving end of Momma’s insults and fists of fury. (Of course, Gina can give it back something fierce.) Momma Payne also bears a strong resemblance to her son, right down to the full mustache.
Most “Martin” characters fall into three distinct categories: washed-up parodies of 1970s pop culture, catchphrase-spouting blowhards or elderly sleazeballs who hit on either Pam or Gina. Jerome, an aging pimp with a crush on Pam who constantly announces his presence via song (“Jerome’s in the house!”) hits the “Martin” character trifecta. Look for Academy Award-nominated actress Shohreh Aghdashloo taking grief from Jerome as the wife of the store clerk in the clip below.
Martin Lawrence’s first stint in a fat suit was as paunchy, easily agitated security guard Otis. Despite his advanced age, Otis is quick to hand out insults and ass-whoopings to disrespectful young folks, Tommy, or whoever is within his limited field of vision.
Inspired by ’70s martial artist Jim Kelly of “Enter the Dragon” and “Black Belt Jones” fame, Dragonfly Jones is a karate instructor whose fighting style consists mostly of prancing around and screaming a lot. Needless to say, he regularly gets the bejeezus knocked out of him. Usually the poundings are handed out by his student Kenji, to whom Dragonfly perpetually owes money. But thanks to a little inspiration courtesy of Carl Douglas’ classic tune “Kung Fu Fighting,” Dragonfly finally puts the smackdown on Kenji before getting walloped by an irate purse-wielding elderly woman.
Played by Lawrence in a wig and white makeup, Gina’s annoying coworker has a bizarre surfer dude/Southern accent and looks like an unholy fusion of actor Sam Elliott and “Hello”-era Lionel Richie. Quick to bust some MC Hammer moves, Bob is the typical white guy who thinks he’s down with his black coworkers. He also seems to bounce around Gina’s company, sometimes working in marketing and other times landing in the research department. Bob is that guy in your company who shows up to parties even though no one really knows what he does.
Basically “Martin”‘s take on Elvis, Elroy Preston is the washed-up “godfather” of the little-known genre of black surf music who now works as a mechanic. Despite the protests of anyone within earshot, Elroy looks for any chance to break into his one hit “Don’t You Know No Good,” which is both the title of the song and its only lyrics. (His rousing musical numbers, featuring backup singers who look suspiciously like Gina and Pam, allow Tisha Campbell and Tichina Arnold to show off the pipes they displayed as chorus girls in “Little Shop of Horrors.“)
The star of “Soul Island,” King Beef is Cole’s favorite blaxploitation actor. (As Pam rightly points out, all of his movies stink.) Known for both his way with the ladies and his penchant for random dance numbers, King Beef is basically an excuse for Martin Lawrence to do an extended impression of Al Pacino in “Scarface.”