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Astronomy Club Sets Netflix Sketch Comedy Series With Kenya Barris Producing (EXCLUSIVE)

The sketch and improv group Astronomy Club has landed a self-titled variety sketch series at Netflix, Variety has learned exclusively.

The streamer has given the half-hour series a six episode order. Kenya Barris will executive produce under his Khalabo Ink Society banner at Netflix, with the show falling under the “Black-ish” creator’s overall deal. Daniel Powell of Irony Point will also executive produce. According to the official description, the series will use comedy to discuss real-world topics. Sketches will explore an array of topics ranging from pop culture and social issues to the black experience.

According to the group —  which consists of head writers Jonathan Braylock and Keisha Zollar, alongside members Caroline Martin, James III, Jerah Milligan, Monique Moses, Ray Cordova, and Shawtane Bowen —  the series will be similar to their Comedy Central digital series but will feature interstitials in each half-hour episode that put different characters in the spotlight.

“Instead of doing the normal sketch show, we kind of have a show within a show,” Braylock told Variety. “So our interstitials will be kind of a heightened fake reality show with all of us living in one house together because Netflix doesn’t have money to give us a bigger house. So we kind of have all these wonderful characters that are heightened versions of ourselves. And we have very, very loose plot lines that take us through each episode. So that way people can have a break from the sketches, they get to know us.”

The eight performers first formed in 2013 and soon became the first and only all-black house team at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre. They then became known for their recurring sketch show “A Journey Thru Black History,” in which they used their own experiences to satirize racial oppression in modern America. The group then brought their comedy to the screen with their self-titled Comedy Central series, which debuted last year. In it, the group performs a variety of bits, including one that brings them together as different historical black innovators attempting to one-up each other’s inventions.

Despite their political brand of comedy, however, Astronomy Club is excited to use their opportunity with Netflix to create a diverse show that isn’t wholly centered around race.

“There’s a cultural revolution happening right now where more women and people of color are getting the chance to tell stories based on their own experiences,” Milligan said. “But also stories that just show them as human beings whereas these stories don’t have to be about the skin color or about their gender, it can just be about them as people. It feels really good to be able to impact society in that way and I think the show is going to do well because of that.”

The series marks one of the first Barris has announced in his time at Netflix. It was previously announced that he would write, executive produce, and star in the single-cam comedy “Black Excellence” opposite Rashida Jones.

Astronomy Club is represented as a group by Innovative Artists and Schreck Rose. Braylock is repped individually by APA and Edna Cowan Management. Moses is repped individually by CAA and 3 Arts Entertainment. Bowen, Cordova, Martin, Milligan, James III, and Zollar are repped individually by Innovative Artists. Cordova and Zollar are managed by Candice Kreinbrink. Martin is managed by Edna Cowan Management. James III is managed by Brillstein Entertainment Partners.

Barris is repped by CAA, Artists First, and Morris Yorn.

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