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The Untold Truth Of Martin

When "Martin" premiered in 1992, the series was the first of its kind. Although there were already a few prominent sitcoms featuring African American families like "The Cosby Show" and "Family Matters," the show made by comedian Martin Lawrence was unique in that its main two stars played a black couple that a new generation of fans could relate to. Young adults who did not want something as wholesome as the other popular options thoroughly enjoyed it, as did teens who thought the edgier comedy was way cooler than anything else that was available to watch. 

Bill Cosby may not have approved of "Martin" but that did not matter as the show was a massive hit that lasted several years and spanned five seasons. However, fame is not always a blessing and can sometimes ruin a good thing. Sadly, that was the case with both Lawrence and his series near the end. Regardless of its eventual downfall, "Martin" is remembered as classic TV and the stories behind it are just as fascinating as the show itself. Here is the untold truth of "Martin."

Gina and Pam were close friends in real life

Several years before production began on "Martin," Tisha Campbell and Tichina Arnold became very close. Their friendship began while auditioning for roles in New York City when they were 12 years old. Instead of a rivalry, the duo only showed support, as Campbell told Tamron Hall, "We always rooted for one another, even when we were in direct competition with one another. It was really about if I don't get it, I really hope she does." For an explanation as to why the two got along so quickly, Arnold explained, "It was a natural synergy. I always say God puts people together, and it was that way with me and Tisha."

When Campbell and Arnold were 16 years old, both earned roles as two of the iconic trio of singers in "Little Shop of Horrors." The two grew even closer through the experience, so by the time Martin Lawrence approached Campbell to be a part of his show in 1992, it is no surprise that the BFFs were roommates and both got parts in the new series.

Improvisation was the norm for Martin Lawrence

Like all sitcoms, "Martin" was based on a script written ahead of time to guide the show, but at any given point throughout filming, Martin Lawrence would throw those guidelines out the window. Tichina Arnold told Buzzfeed it did not take long for Lawrence to start improvising and she immediately saw the brilliance of it. She said, "The first time he went off script, we just knew that's how it was going to be for the rest of the show and that turned out to be much better than what it would have been if he stuck to the script. Him going off script made 'Martin' what it is."

Lawrence's improvised antics were so hilarious on set that it was often difficult for the other cast members not to break character and burst out laughing. They often had contests to see who would break first, and it was usually Thomas Mikal Ford who would lose — although none of them could keep it together for long.

Martin Lawrence used his boxing experience

With well over 100 episodes in the long run of "Martin," the show produced plenty of memorable moments and satisfying stories. When asked by Buzzfeed what his all-time favorite episode was, Martin Lawrence replied, "My favorite was probably the episode I wrote, called 'Guard Your Grill.' It's the episode with boxer Tommy Hearns and my head was swollen like a grapefruit, because I got beaten up so bad. That probably was my best episode, because I understand it so much."

What the comedian meant by understanding the premise was that he literally trained as a boxer when he was a teen. To stay off the dangerous streets of his neighborhood, Lawrence honed his technique at the Sugar Ray Leonard Boxing Center and got so good at the craft that he won an AAU championship at 15 years old. The major strength of the young boxer was his movement, but it wasn't enough to dodge a strike that gave him a nasty black eye. Once Lawrence's mom saw the damage, his boxing career was over.

Martin Lawrence motivated Tisha Campbell to be wild

One of the things that made "Martin" so great was the ridiculously funny physical comedy of its creator. However, Martin Lawrence was not the only cast member whose physicality shined throughout the series. Lawrence saw a lot of comedic potential with his costar, Tisha Campbell, so he did what he could to encourage her not to hold back on the show. In "Martin: The Reunion," Lawrence recalled how he used Lucille Ball as a prime example of going all out and not letting fear get to her (via CBS Mornings).

For Campbell, that goal became easier because she made a game out of it trying as best as she could to make Lawrence laugh. The actress did not deny that nerves almost got her in the beginning but getting the shocked, hysterical reaction she wanted out of Lawrence made it all worth it and easier from then on.

Popular catchphrases originated on Martin

From the great chemistry of the cast to the many outlandish characters played by Martin Lawrence, the "Martin" series was memorable for several reasons. However, it was the iconic catchphrases that spread the most throughout popular culture and became common phrases among young fans. Among the popular lines on the show repeated constantly were some that continue to linger in the modern slang today, such as "talk to the hand," "You go girl," and "Get ta steppin!"

When interviewed on "The Tonight Show" over two decades later, Lawrence told Jimmy Fallon that the lines fans repeat back to him the most are "Whazzup!" and "You go, boy!" (flipped from the original "You go, girl!). The popularity of the former catchphrase made perfect sense as it showed up nearly everywhere for years, like on the classic Budweiser commercial and the famous parody scene from "Scary Movie" that came afterward.

Tension between Carl Payne and Martin Lawrence

Even though the chemistry and natural flow of the cast members of "Martin" was one of its best features during most of the show's five seasons, there was one rocky relationship behind the scenes that was a major exception. Rumors of the tension between Carl Anthony Payne II and Martin Lawrence were eventually confirmed by the co-star when he was interviewed by Thisis50 and asked about the situation.

Payne revealed to Young Jack Thriller that from his perspective, all of the negativity was completely one-sided as he had no problem with Lawrence. However, things got heated gradually over time as the star continued to undermine Payne and bring him down for seemingly no reason. Frustrated from the constant demeaning way he was treated, Payne had enough and the two did not reconcile their grievances for many years until they finally spoke before the "Martin: The Reunion" episode.

The first time Snoop Dogg was on TV

Another aspect of "Martin" that made the show so special to fans were the frequent cameos of upcoming stars in hip hop and comedy. One of these legends was Snoop Dogg, who had never been on a TV show before his appearance on the series. Martin Lawrence told Jimmy Fallon that Snoop did an excellent job just being himself despite a bit of nervousness. Like many others in the cast, Snoop couldn't hold back the laughter as well, but since he was his usual calm and collected self, he was able to play it off quite nicely.

In a later interview on GGN News, Snoop praised Lawrence for giving artists like him the spotlight on his very popular show. The rapper acknowledged that Arsenio Hall also offered great opportunities, but the issue was that some guests felt like they could not be themselves in front of the camera. On the other hand, Lawrence wrote roles for his guest stars where they no longer had to pretend to be someone else, and Snoop deeply appreciated that aspect of his appearance.

Tracy Morgan is very grateful for the role on Martin

Tracy Morgan's career may have begun with "Def Comedy Jam," but it was his appearances on "Martin" that skyrocketed him into becoming the massive star he is now. Martin Lawrence saw a lot of potential in the new comedian, so he gave Morgan a small part on his show as Hustle Man years before he became a regular on "Saturday Night Live." Lawrence quickly confirmed that he made the right decision, as he told Jimmy Fallon that Morgan instantly proved to be a natural on set with his excellent delivery and ability to improv.

From his statements in an interview on SiriusXM, Morgan clearly credits the series for dramatically changing his life because the comedian teared up before he said, "Martin, he let me eat at his table. And it wasn't cause he liked me, it's cause he thought I was funny. So, he said come eat at my table in my show, and he put me in front of this national audience, and he gave me an opportunity. He told me things, man, and I'll never forget it and I'll always be thankful to Martin Lawrence for that."

Fox's 100th episode celebration was pathetic

Especially back in the '90s era, when a series reached 100 episodes, it was a significant accomplishment that deserved praise. At the very least, it meant that the show was eligible for syndication and could continue to generate revenue for years. When "Seinfeld" hit that milestone in 1995, the Los Angeles Times reported that NBC held a lavish party for the cast and crew. However, once "Martin" also got to 100 episodes in 1996, Fox simply gifted the cast with a basket, which irked the show's creator.

Lawrence was not the only cast member completely unimpressed with the lackluster celebration. While talking with A&E, Tichina Arnold explained how she also thought they were being treated unfairly and recalled how upset Lawrence was upon seeing the reward for their hard work. The memory of the look on his face still made her laugh as she then said, "He stopped everything, stopped the scene. He left the set. By the time he finished talking to Fox, we had nice gifts."

The reason for Jackie Chan's cameo

In 1996, Jackie Chan made a brief appearance on "Martin" for the episode "Scrooge," in which he plays himself and is the unexpected boyfriend of the wacky side character Sheneneh. The appearance of the international star on the series may seem random at first, although Lawrence revealed to Jimmy Fallon that around that time, he was offered the role to play the cop alongside Chan in the action comedy "Rush Hour." When talking with Club Shay Shay, Chris Tucker also confirmed that the studio considered other options like Lawrence and Wesley Snipes.

Yet before Tucker was offered the role, Lawrence had to turn down the part and did so because, as he joked with Fallon, "They didn't have enough money for me." Hopefully, Chan did not make the cameo on "Martin" for the sole reason of getting the comedian to join him, because otherwise it probably would have been upsetting to agree to a somewhat embarrassing role for nothing.

A rift formed between Martin and the cast

Having a show with his own name for the title was a massive achievement for Martin Lawrence, and he continued to rise from there. In 1995, the comedian teamed up with Will Smith in the blockbuster hit "Bad Boys" before directing, producing, and starring in his own film, "A Thin Line Between Love and Hate." Around this time, Lawrence also became an executive producer of "Martin."

However, all that success was not entirely good for the rising star as it began to go to his head and damage his relationships with other members of the cast. When speaking on TV One TV, Tichina explained the difficult situation and said, "That distance started being created, you know, between the two. And the network has a lot to do with that as well. They take care of the star and then everybody else is a piece of s***. That's just how it goes down."

Martin Lawrence was arrested before the final season

At the same time, Martin Lawrence was also struggling to cope with the pressure from his new level of fame. The comedian turned to smoking marijuana for relief, but the drug use only made matters worse. In May 1996, the Los Angeles Times reported that police were forced to stop Lawrence from yelling and cursing in the middle of a busy street with a concealed firearm.

On his "Biography" episode for A&E, Lawrence was brutally honest about what happened and was able to laugh about it — although he acknowledged the seriousness of the incident. The comedian admitted, "I was high that day. And I don't know how I got into the street but running across the street and herb don't mix cause you don't know if the cars are going slow or fast. So, they had a right to come get me."

The incident was resolved peacefully, yet this was not his only run-in with the law. The Washington Post reported that Lawrence was then arrested later that year for trying to fly with a handgun packed in his carry-on bag, and in March of 1997 he was put on probation after striking a man at a nightclub. However, worse than everything else were the horrible statements he allegedly made to his ex-wife during their divorce. It was a sad and complicated period because he was on top of the world, but he had also reached his lowest point.

Tisha Campbell accused Martin Lawrence of sexual harassment

Even with the behind-the-scenes drama of "Martin" and the personal issues of its lead star, the series may have managed to survive a few more seasons. However, the unacceptable behavior of Martin Lawrence towards Tisha Campbell ended the show for good. Not only did the toxic environment cause Campbell to quit the show, but two months later in January 1997, the co-star then charged the lead with sexual harassment. On A&E, Tichina Arnold recalled the extreme tension between the two and said, "I had to play the position of watching it almost, you know, really try to destroy two people that I love. And it wasn't cool, it was a horrible situation."

The parties managed to settle the lawsuit out of court, but nearly irreparable damage was done to their relationship. Campbell only agreed to film the last two episodes in March as long as Lawrence was not on set at the same time. The actors eventually reconciled but it took many years and by the time of "Martin: The Reunion" over two decades later, it seemed that everything had been forgiven.

Tichina Arnold almost got her own spinoff series

Near the end of Season 5 of "Martin," an interesting episode aired with Pam as the central figure, not Martin Lawrence, called "Goin' for Mine." In the story, Pam is fired from her job but then helps a friend discover a new talent for Keep It Real Records, which lands her an awesome job as an A&R executive there. Due to the serious issues behind the scenes of "Martin," it was clear that the series was coming to an end, and this standalone episode was Fox's way to taking steps towards a spinoff with Tichina Arnold as the star.

Though ultimately, it was not meant to be. In an interview with Buzzfeed, Arnold explained, "This was another example of Martin trying to incorporate my singing and talents into the show. Martin and the Fox network were just testing it out and I guess I was looked at as the breakout spinoff character. It was a great opportunity... it didn't happen, but everything worked out the way it was supposed to."