The Enduring Legacy of “Sheeeeeeeit”

Even if you’re not a fan of HBO’s seminal show The Wire, you’re probably friends with someone who is and over the course of that friendship, the Wire fanatic has probably used the phrase “Sheeeeeeit” at some point.

Actor Isiah Whitlock Jr., who portrayed State Sen. Clay Davis, discusses the enduring legacy of his unlikely catchphrase during a roundtable interview for his new movie Cedar Rapids.

Isiah Whitlock Jr.: It’s rare that I go a day without someone doing it. And it’s gotten to be kind of a wierd thing, because it I’m walking towards someone, they won’t do it in front of me.  They’ll pass me and then I’ll get a block away and then I’ll hear it.  Yeah, it’s like, do I have the courage, and now I’m far enough away that he’s not going to turn around and hit me or something.

And what’s the most inappropriate place?  Hmmm, well I remember one time I was on a crowded subway, and, uh, I heard it.  but I didn’t know where it was coming from.  And the subway was just packed with people, and you’re already miserable, and then all of a sudden you start hearing ‘Sheeeeeit…’  Okay, okay, it’s time for me to get off at the next stop.

[Later]

David Simon kinda pulled me aside at the end of it all and said, “You know you’re going to have to live with this for the rest of your life, right?”  And I said, okay, I think I’m prepared.  You put it out there, you gotta be prepared to deal with it.

When I did that thing in the Wire, I thought, well doesn’t everybody talk like that?  I remember talking to a friend of mine, and I said I don’t get it.  I thought everybody did that.  And he said, “Yeah, well nobody does it the way you do it.”

Nobody seems to have the right pitch.  When I do hear people do it, sometimes I think, “You’re not doing it right.”

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