It has been a minute. Glad to see you’ve joined us once again at Da Den for another installment of “What about…”
First and foremost I’d like to dedicate this blog to a dope entertainer and comedian named Thomas Mikal Ford, affectionately known as “Tommy” by just about everyone. I’m saddened to say that he passed recently at the age of 52 due to complications with a ruptured abdominal aneurysm.
Thomas Ford was a comedian, actor, philanthropist, play-write, and author of several uplifting children’s books. But what he’s most known for is his iconic role as Martin Payne’s best friend, Tommy, the lovable dapper gentlemen with a mysterious occupation. Before we go into what exactly his job was, let’s go ahead and talk about how influential “Martin” was to popular culture.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you have to be familiar with the TV show “Martin.” The show was nationally syndicated for 5 seasons and during it’s run on Fox, it was the highest rated show on the network. So basically, Martin put Fox on the map. Now while the show was comedic in nature, it touched on many issues that were never presented on a mainstream platform to black audiences (besides maybe the Cobsy Show, but that’s different [RIP Cosby’s legacy,BTW])
The show touched on racism, issues with commitment and monogamy in the black community, the ills of the entertainment industry, independence and long term friendships to name a few.
Not only was the show commercially successful, but it also had an extremely huge cultural impact. Many of the slangs and colloquialisms that were used in the show are STILL used to this day! (You go boy, damn gina, OH NO HE DIDN’T, whazzup!? etc.) The show also brought to the mainstream a black style of roast comedy known as “jawnin'” where you brutally attack physical or personal flaws of the people who you love and care about in public… for laughs.
Martin also introduced the concept of playing multiple characters on a sitcom.
I believe this is the first time anyone has seen the likes of Dragonfly Jones, Elroy Preston, King Beef, Jerome, Otis, Bob from marketing, Roscoe and of course….. Sheneneh.
It was goofy as hell, but that was part of the charm of Martin. He put himself out there and America ate it up.
With a slew of recurring jokes and callbacks that we all loved ranging from Gina’s enormous apple head, Martin’s short stature, Cole’s stupidity, Pam’s nappy hair, and of course Tommy’s lack of a job. But let’s take a moment to explore exactly what that job actually was. Let’s play Sherlock Homies and put some clues together to decipher this mystery of the job Tommy allegedly had.
First of all let’s look at Tommy. He was clearly well educated and well spoken. Tommy was always dressed in the latest men’s fashions. Tommy was always clean shaven and well put to together. Whenever anyone needed help financially, Tommy was there to help without asking any questions. Whenever anyone needed good advice, Tommy was always there with wise words and sincerity. He was an all around stand-up guy always responsible with his company car and when Cole needed work, he hooked a brother up! Tommy in general was just the epitome of 90s success.
But what about his job? What was his source of income? How did Tommy maintain his lifestyle? Here are some quotes from the show that might help us solve this quandary.
When Tommy hooked Cole up with a job:
“Make sure you wear a suit and a tie….and a blindfold.”
Um… why would the location of his job need to be that secretive that Cole must be oblivious of the location? Could Tommy have been involved in some illegal or illicit activity?
How about the time when Pam was having an intimate moment with Tommy and she says “baby… I love you but what do you do for a living?” His response? “*Laugh* Baby… You know what I do *beeper goes off* hey sorry baby, I gotta go… that’s my job calling.” WTF?!
What kind of job is so secretive that even your own WOMAN who you love deeply has no idea where you work? And the beeper? That sounds like some drug dealer kingpin action going on.
Ok. Let’s keep digging.
How about the time when Tommy got in a car accident and he goes “good thing I was in the company car” and the nurse replies, “but the chart here says you ain’t got no job.” Well if he was unemployed why was he so relaxed about his hospital visit? He wasn’t worried about the bill? How can he afford insurance? You can’t get health insurance without proof of income! Did he pay cash with his drug money brought to the hospital by one of his goons? Surely if a government building with legal documentation doesn’t have information on his job, he must be hiding something. Sounds like Tommy is a DOPE BOY!!!
Or what about… The time when he says “You know Martin, in my line of work it’s best that I don’t get on Television.” WHAT!?? WHY NOT TOMMY? YOU WHIPPIN’ UP THAT COCO!!? TOMMY GOT THAT FLICK OF THE WRIST ACTION!? TOMMY YOU GOT THE TRAP HOUSE TIPPIN!? TOMMY ON THAT WALTER WHITE!???
Either this is just a case of bad sitcom writing, or ya boy Thomas move that Dope.
How about the time when Martin says to Tommy “You know where I work man… Remember that time you dropped me off at work?” Martin’s reply “Oh you mean that big white building with no sign?” “Yeah man… But I don’t work there anymore.. I was transferred to the big black building with no sign across the street.”
Is this drug kingpin buying commercial properties and selling them to stay untraceable? Is Tommy the Trap Monopoly man!? DO NOT PASS GO! DO NOT COLLECT 200 DOLLARS!!? (((SIDENOTE *Random Fun Fact* The “Monopoly Man’s actual name is “Rich Uncle Pennybags…Looks like I got a new rap name!))
Now this is the most questionable exchange of all, *see video below*
It’s the the first time in the series we are introduced to Tracy Morgan’s iconic portrayal of Hustle Man, the slick talking hood salesman always ready to hock some stolen merchandise. In the scene,Hustle man knocks on Martins door with a “pizza delivery,” but here’s the catch, Martin didn’t order a pizza… (WHAT WHAT!?) But Tommy indulges the quirky character by proceeding to buy said pizza. He then proceeds to pull out a HUGE wad of cash to purchase the “PIZZA” which is offered at the price of 15 dollars. Martin is visibly surprised that Tommy (the guy with no job) has access to such heaping amounts of cash. Tommy’s only response? “Man… Martin .. you know how I do…” (WHAT!!!? DRUG DEALER!??)
Once the pizza is removed from the large box it is revealed that the pizza is comically small and then the intro song plays. (MARRRTTTIIN YOU SO CRAZY!)
What if there was no pizza in that box? What if that whole exchange was all a rouse orchestrated by Tommy to receive a “Special package” in that tiny box. How did the Hustle Man get in the building? Why would hustle man go specifically to Martin’s door without being coaxed? And Why are we just now seeing Hustle Man for the first time? The show was already in it’s second year by the time Hustle Man was brought into the cast. If this guy was so funny, and always trying to sell things to people in the neighborhood that Tommy was so comfortable with the idea of him knocking at a random door to sell a “pizza,” then why were we JUST NOW SEEING HIM!!!? DRUUUUUUGGG DEAAALERRR!
I have no choice but to to come to the conclusion that Tommy’s character was a drug dealer. It’s crazy, I know…and a charismatic dapper dressed gentleman with a dark side as a Nino Brown type character with a dark occupation sounds like a Key and Peele sketch, but it’s possible! Unfortunately, according to the show’s writers, Tommy was a community organizer and ran an after-school program for troubled Detroit youth…
(Employee of the year… You go BOY!)
I guess that teaches us a valuable lesson. Once we start judging a black man mainly because we don’t know every aspect of their personal life, we are walking a slippery slope. But regardless of what Tommy’s job was or wasn’t we can say he’s definitely got a job now. Holding down the pearly gates, word to Abib Jahleel REST IN PEACE TOMMY.
Peace and Love,
JUDGE NOT LEST YE BE JUDGED! IT’S LIT!