In its early days, the FOX network was a game-changing outsider. Its programming was young, fresh and catered to a more diverse audience than the traditional fare of ABC, NBC and CBS. During this time, one of the network’s biggest hits was Martin.
Starring stand-up comedian Martin Lawrence as a radio DJ/talk show host surrounded by a crazy group of friends, the show instantly became a crucial part of pop culture. Over the years, the comedy’s legend has grown and it’s now considered a classic.
And now, 30 years after it first premiered, BET+ got surviving cast members Lawrence, Tisha Campbell, Tichina Arnold and Carl Anthony Payne back together for Martin: The Reunion, to reveal behind-the-scenes moments, explore the show’s legacy and honor late co-star Thomas Mikal Ford. While promoting the special Lawrence, Campbell, Arnold and Payne spoke to The Root about the fun of being back on set again and how they feel about the comedy now.
Since the cast is all thriving with successful careers, it took a while before things could come together. The No. 1 topic on everyone’s mind was whether the reunion could lead to a revival of the series. While Lawrence was ambiguous with his “never say never” stance, Tichina had a far more interesting idea suggesting, “hopefully animation, something like that.” More than anything, the foursome just seemed thrilled to be back together on the Martin set.
“Being on this couch right now is surreal. It really is because we worked very, very hard. But we had a lot of fun,” Arnold said. “And of course Tommy [Ford] we’ll always miss him and it will never be the same without him.”
Through the years, multiple writers and directors have cited Martin as an important creative influence for them. Despite this lasting legacy, Lawrence maintains it’s still a fun surprise for the show to be celebrated like this.
“For us to be honored in this way. I was over the moon. And I was just happy they were able to get all of us together,” Lawrence said. “We never had no idea it would take off like this. We just put in the work. It was hard work and got the results.”
For Campbell, it wasn’t work—she was just having fun with her friends. Of course, she enjoys that the cast are now considered “icons.”
“We were just going to have fun and feed our families. We didn’t think that it would be so impactful,” Campbell said. “And that five-year-olds—little Gen Zs—would come up to us and still be watching the show.”
All five seasons of Martin are streaming on HBO Max. Martin: The Reunion premieres Thursday, June 16 on BET+.