It's gratifying when you can read a TV series' title and know exactly what you're getting into.
HBO's "A Black Lady Sketch Show" (Friday, 11 EDT/PDT, ★★★½ out of four) is precisely what's advertised: A sketch comedy show starring, written by and directed primarily by black women.
It's the first series of its kind, and the novelty of that representation is important. But mostly what bringing a group of talented and funny black women together does is make for a hilarious and witty comedy series that has a lot of jokes other comedians may not think of.
The lightning-fast sketches manage to be universal and specific, enjoyable by more than just its obvious target demographic, but also serving an audience long ignored by Hollywood or thought of as "not ready" or "not funny."
Produced by Issa Rae ("Insecure"), "Black Lady" provides a wonderful showcase for the four comedians who make up its core cast: creator Robin Thede, Ashley Nicole Black, Quinta Brunson and Gabrielle Dennis. That "Black Lady" also manages to nab high-profile guest stars, from Angela Bassett and Patti LuPone, is just an added bonus.
There are too many smart sketches to list, but the series excels when it leans into the absurd and puts its four main cast members in a room (or on a mountainside) together. The most memorable sketch is a the long-running, multi-episode gag in which the quartet is holed up drinking wine, playing dominoes, and weathering the apocalypse. Naturally.
At just six episodes, "Black Lady" is criminally short. Were it dropped all at once on a streaming service, fans would likely devour them all at once and then be left longing for more. Plus, its infectious main title sequence – which features puppet versions of all four women (Thede was trained at the Jim Henson School) scored to "Hot Girl" by Megan Thee Stallion – would be playing on a loop in their heads.
The entire main cast is quite strong, but Black is the breakout star. The comedian, best known as a writer and contributor on "Full Frontal with Samantha Bee," has a brilliant recurring character, a CIA agent named Trinity who excels at spycraft because she's so average-looking and forgettable. Black's performance is anything but.
There's no shortage of sketch-comedy series these days, and it takes more than a well-written joke to break through and rise to "Key & Peele" or "Mr. Show"-level acclaim. "Black Lady" has the potential to do just that.
Let's just hope prosperity success leads to a longer second season.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: 'A Black Lady Sketch Show' review: HBO comedy is your new obsession