David Alan Grier and DL Hughley Have New Comedy/News Shows, Should We Be Frightened?

I guess it would be too much to ask Dave Chappelle to come back.

This doesn’t mean that I don’t think comedians David Alan Grier and DL Hughley deserve their own shows …

What am I saying? They’re the last two black comics who should have their own shows. Katt Williams should have his own show before these two and I’m not even a fan, so … seriously cable networks — Grier and Hughley?

It’s not that I didn’t think they could pull off a good show. I know they can’t pull off a good show. I watched most of Grier’s Chocolate News and Hughley’s DL Hughley Breaks the News through my fingers.

Both have the ability to be funny in their moments, but I don’t think Grier’s been funny since he stop directly working with someone for “Wayans” as a last name. And Hughley, to me, has never been funny. I’ve always found his comedy mean spirited, petty and unimaginative. (But he was really nice that one time I interviewed him for work!) But Comedy Central and CNN did not ask me which black comics would be good at a politically-based comedy show.

(Aisha Tyler, anyone? She’s smart and funny. Anyone! Did they even bother calling her? Chris Rock? Steve Harvey? Wanda Sykes? — Non sequitor: God, I’d LOVE to watch Wanda Sykes do a political comedy show with Aisha Tyler. They could invite Monique and do an all black girl parody of The View. Jasmine Guy could play the Barbara Walters character! Wait … no one steal my show idea! I have to make some phone calls!Marlon Wayans could do a show. Hell, even Sinbad or Arsenio Hall would have been good and both those guys need a second bite at the apple.)

But nope, no one asked me. So this is what we have:

A recent skit from Grier’s “Chocolate News” on “Thugs Against High Gas Prices.”

A clip of DL Hughley talking to Freddie Mac, not the mortgage giant, but “Ashy Larry” as Freddie the Mac Daddy of Federal Loan Financing.

Both shows are “edgy,” and by edgy I mean profane because, really, that’s appears to be the only kind of edgy that matters. Grier, while not exactly Eddie Murphy, manages to pull off playing a multitude of characters, but seeing him still makes me think of In Living Color and thinking of In Living Color only makes me wonder if Chocolate News would be more palatable to me if it was Damon and Keenan running the show again? Wouldn’t it be better to see seven black performers with a job rather than two? Or to just see all those Wayanses hire themselves to put on a show again? Yeah, “Little Man” was an embarrassment, but I say, c’mon, TV, give them another chance! They can be good again!

As for Hughley’s show I was amazed by the “shut your mouth bitches” line from Ashy Larry, if only because I’m watching CNN. It’s one thing to be wild and raunchy on Comedy Central, home of everything raunchy in comedy, they have no morals. They show Sarah Silverman with a potty mouth and a bed-wetting problem, South Park and that gross Kenny Versus Spenny thing that I hope to dear God was canceled.

Seeing Grier play a transsexual whose boob keeps popping out is actually at home in that environment. But Hughley is his own island on a network that is primarily about straight news. And it is surreal and painful to watch actual reporters interact with Hughley as opposed to joke reporters like the ones on Chocolate News and The Daily Show. Real reporters are not funny and I image the ones who showed up for Hughley’s premiere episode were wondering why CNN was wasting their news gathering time? You work hard, you pound the pavement, you pester sources and you beg your producer for camera time and this is what they give you?

Hughley seems out of place on the network, even if he did get a newsworthy nugget out of yet another defecting Republican, this time former Bush press secretary Scott McClellan who said last week that he is voting for Barack Obama on Hughley’s show. I hate to say this, but … Glen Beck’s show made more sense. Now, I don’t like Glen Beck and Beck has run off to FOX News, leaving his old gig at CNN Headline News, but Beck was/is supposed to be funny and did a p
olitical/news-of-the-day interview show that didn’t make me want to drink Drano. It would have made more sense for CNN to find someone not necessarily like Beck, but someone with his basic skills set, like Whoopi Goldberg, Dennis Miller or Lewis Black, heck, Eddie Murphy might do it if you ask nice enough, but someone who has the ability to be funny and can also pull off a decent interview.

Naturally, I wasn’t the only person “amazed” by Hughley’s show. Dr. Boyce Watkins (and many other critics, primarily black) are pretty much ready to grab the pitchforks and torches and send DL back to the comedy plantation from wince he came.

In the following clip, Watkins shouts out every black comedian as being cool-to-great with the exception of Hughley who he says he’s never been impressed by.

“You don’t bring a gun to a baby shower. You don’t put a liquor sign in a church,” Watkins gripes, before getting into the flip side of it, that CNN has had many black commentators and journalists, yet the first African American to get their own show on CNN is DL, a comedian. Watkins name drops Roland Martin, mentioning that he’s been on a regular on CNN for a while yet has no show.

Um … yeah. I noticed that too.

Here’s Watkins’ rant in full where he declares DL America’s latest “nappy headed ho” in reference to statements DL made during the infamous Don Imus/Rutgers Women’s Basketball team scandal. (Fast-forward to 1:52 minutes in to skip Watkins rambling about his recent trips around the country.)

Officially, as a lover of the First Amendment and a believer in our often messed up free market economy, I am all for Grier and Hughley getting the same opportunities to humiliate themselves and other black people on television just as countless individuals have done before. Their shows might get better. It might pave the way to Aisha Tyler eventually having her own show, but I’m probably not going to make the point to pencil in Hughley and Chocolate News as must-see-TV unless something revolutionary happens in the writing of the shows. These shows were not made for me.

Which takes me to Watkins’ other concern about DL — that this show, much like CNN’s “Black In America” and DL’s statements about Don Imus, aren’t for or about black people — that this is humor insulting black Americans to delight a non-black audience. Is Watkins right? Whereas I, the women at What About Our Daughters and Watkins saw something of concern, David Zurawik, a critic with The Baltimore Sun, thought the premiere showed promise.

(I)t looks like CNN could have a winner in its new comedy show, D.L. Hughley Breaks the News. And more important, Saturday night television and its audience could be enriched by Hughley’s engaging and non-conventional take on American life — if the cable channel gives the production time to mature and find its voice.

Is this a case of black Snobs like myself and Watkins being too hard on a pair of successful black comedians or is this yet another case of great for the performer, bad for all of blackness played out in front of a live studio audience yet again?

25 thoughts on “David Alan Grier and DL Hughley Have New Comedy/News Shows, Should We Be Frightened?

  1. I haven’t watched either show, because the premises made no sense to me and the people chosen seemed so random. Really, has anyone cared about David Alan Grier since about 1992? Who decided he was relevant? And how does DL Hughley, Mr. Weak Link Of Kings Of Comedy get a show on “we-must-be-OBJECTIVE!!!!!!” CNN? I think you’re dead on with the “for Us, but not really” sense (“we need some ‘diversity’. Let’s get somebody black…ooh, one of those comedians! They’re so funny!”) coupled with “we ain’t trying to pay no Chris Rock-sized salaries.”The View as it stands makes my teeth itch, but I’d pay money to see your version.

  2. Well, let’s be fair. Cedric the Entertainer is the weakest link in the Kings of Comedy. But with all the work Roland Martin has put in– I don’t even like him as much as the rest of the blog, for full disclosure– he sure should have his own show. For the news. Remember when the news used to be about the news, y’all?

  3. You obviously need to get a network job and tell them how it should be done, if not consulting would be good too.Take both shows off the air. I don’t care how much they want black folk on the air these aren’t the concepts these two should be involved in.We’ve come so far to end up like this?

  4. That’s a fine analsis, Snob, and thanks for reviewing Hughley’s work for me. I recorded his shows but I didn’t have the guts to actually watch them. From the previews, it appears to an updated version of the Amos and Andy show, the same minstel programming we’ve been getting from BET. What were the CNN execs thinking? Granted, I like Hughley when you give him to me in small pieces, like his stints on Larry King. To reward him with a show and then to use it to reenforce all the old negative stereotypes that black people have been trying to run from, is something I don’t understand. Yeah, Hughley can become a cash cow for the network, but are white Americans so fearful that it can’t have intelligent and witty social commentary from a black person, while a charismatic black candidate is running for president at the same time? Oh, no, that’s way too threatening. We better go with Hughley, the smiling Sambo who won’t upset the apple cart, CNN seems to be saying. BTW, I turned off the clip of Grier when I heard the “Black Guerrillas” mentioned. You know, black people also have to take credit turning out such horrid pieces of trash.

  5. Minstrel shows have always been popular in America. So as long as Hugley sticks to the much loved format of making fun of Black people he should do well.Just think CNN used to actually be a news network. Hard to believe isn’t it.

  6. you’re better than me because i tried to sit through Chocolate News for about 10 minutes and felt robbed of those 10 min, and 5 minutes of DLH’s show was all I needed to put my remote through another early workout.I think the problem is not exactly the nature of the content, but the creative direction and it looks like they were both given projects just on the strength of their long-standing careers, because there’s no other creative people behind them on it and you can tell. I think Chris Rock identifies with today’s black community, not only because he’s from my neighborhood (cheap pop, lol), but because he’s realistic and not basing his monologue off of pure stereotypes. And whats more funny is that CR, DAG, and DLH basically do the same routine, but CR’s approach is WAY MORE realistic.

  7. I’ve seen each show. I find them both mediocre. I’m not completely embarrassed by them, but I won’t watch either or them again. I find the comedy to be been-there-done-that. I also think CNN is the wrong place for a comedy show. Perhaps if the shows were funny, I’d think you were being too hard, but they’re not even funny – they’re just exploitative of the same recycled black-people-jokes that have been told for as long as I can remember.I love your idea about Wanda Sykes.

  8. I tried to sit through the premiere of Chocolate News (even DVR’d it!) and I couldn’t make it to the 5 minute mark.D.L. Hughley has NEVER been funny to me. I disagree with the commenter above who called Cedric the weakest link in the Kings of Comedy. I thought he was hilarious! I love how he doesn’t necessarily have to do the most vulgar material to get laughs. D.L. always makes fun of the audience in mean ways, and he just…isn’t funny.David A. Grier is only funny when he has the Wayans writing for him…oh and he was funny in a couple of lines in Jumanji. That is all.

  9. You’ve verbalized every sentiment I’ve had regarding these two new shows. I find it abhorrent that black men must act like DL Hughley and David Alan Grier–both of whom, in my opinion, have NEVER been amusing–before they can get a show. Although I find Grier more obnoxious than Hughley, the latter man’s show is all the more heinous because it’s on CN freakin’ N. CNN is always my preferred news channel, but I am seriously questioning some of their recent judgment. What on earth could this show possibly contribute? Why is it at all necessary? Honestly, I’m just embarrassed.

  10. Thank God we’re getting a consensus: Those shows is crap. But I beg to differ a little. Grier was good in “Boomerang,” where he played a meek, hard-luck bachelor, and Cedric was hysterical in “Kings.”

  11. Preaching to the choir, and I’m singing… Aaaaamen, Aaaaamen, AAAAAA-aaaaa-aaaaaaa-meeeeeennnnnn!If there are so many of us out here, why do we still have to watch tomming drivel? I mean, I get Comedy Central–except for Colbert–they are all about the lowest common denominator, and they’ll insult everybody.DAG used to be funny, I thought he did some good stuff on ILC, and DL had his moments. But they are definitely now FLAVA FLAAAAAAAAV in my book. Buhbye!

  12. I have to agree. I was excited when I heard about the premise of Chocolate News, but when I saw the preview clips I was just embarrassed. It was every horrible negative black stereotype and it was decidedly unfunny. I can’t imagine watching it in full and I’m a little insulted that Comedy Central thinks that what black people represent or represents them. Ditto DL’s show.I’ve never thought that dude was very funny and I watched his monologue the other day and I wasn’t laughing and neither was anyone else in the audience as far as I could tell. Minstrel Shows indeed. It’s upsetting that this is how we’re represented by two networks I otherwise respect. How should we make our displeasure known in a way that makes a difference, besides not watching?

  13. @brownstocking: “why do we still have to watch tomming drivel?”Because it’s only intended for us to the extent that when we complain about the lack of melanin on TV, there’s something for the suits to point to: “Well, David Alan Grier and D.L. Hughley have their OWN shows on REALLY popular cable networks! What are you talking about?” They don’t really care about what we would liek to get out of programming, just stick some African faces up there and it’s all good. For the record, I liked David Alan Grier a LOT in In Living Color and the other stuff he was doing then…I keep recalling some movie in which he did a (fake) commercial for an organization called “Blacks Without Soul”–does anyone remember what that movie was?

  14. David Allen always came across as being a hilarious intellectual. I guess when times are rough you have to do what you must to make ends meet.Always I’ve said before, not everyone can be Dave Chappell or Chris Rock. DL has never been remotely funny to me. He laughed at his jokes more than the audience did on Def Comedy Jam. That lets me know when someone sucks lemons.DL has dry humor. He’s a colored boy. He laughs with the good ole boys. And he feels nothing at making fun of other black folks. That’s why he was chosen. For no other reason.And he’s well spoken. He could have done something smart. Funny, witty but smart. But he choose to take the low road.

  15. Hughley’s show got decent ratings on CNN, but I just don’t see it lasting (nor do I see a bright future for “Chocolate News,” but it has a better shot just because it’s at least on Comedy Central).As I told my father, I know people who LOVE Chris Rock or LOVED Bernie Mac or LOVE Steve Harvey but who on earth is all I GOTS to see that DL in more stuff! Mmm hmmm! I need MORE DL! Um … no. He completely ruined “The Brothers” ever time he was on screen and was he in any other movies after that? Case closed!Bring back Bill Bellamy before you give DL a show!Bellamy, Arsenio and Sinbad deserve second chances, people! We can rebuild them! We have the technology!And who ever said DL laughs at his own jokes more than the audience does, I second that … emphatically.

  16. “great for the performer, bad for all of blackness”Entirely.I watched Chocolate News (I refuse to watch DL Hughley in general because I don’t find him funny in the least) and felt embarassed. It’s just a show that perpetuates stereotypes to an obscene degree and I’m disappointed that Grier agreed to the show.

  17. Poor Hughley. I hope he doesn’t read this blog or he’ll need some psychotherapy before he goes on stage again. If I were him, I wouldn’t make any large purchases for awhile. I’d put the rest of that CNN money into a money market account.

  18. Hell No we aren’t being too hard on poor oppressed Black women hater non funny DL. I am sooooo sick of this pimp nonsense. Pimps are CRIMINALS!!! They rape, beat and steal money from young girls. The average age of a sex worker is 13!!!! Women are being forced into slavery and sent here in cargo containers. Why is it that Black people are always the ones acting foolish and making excuses for it. Why can’t we hold people accountable for having STANDARDS of behavior. You won’t see anyone making jokes about Nazis and gas chambers for a reason. We need a Black woman anti-defamation league. Just because some people find it funny doesn’t make it beneficial for the majority of us.

  19. Huh, I hate to correct you Miss Faith, but they did make a weekly comedy series about the Nazis that ran for six seasons and had high ratings. I watched “Hogan Heroes” as a child and later find it macabre when I learned more about the Holocaust. Humor can be a great tool in dealing with pain, however. It depends on how you use it. For instance, I hardly ever say the word “Ho” aloud, but I like to use it in a silly fashion on a blog. However, I personally wouldn’t tell “Ho” and “Pimp” jokes in any other public forum. That’s not my style. And I, of course, never use the “N” word because of its terrible history.

  20. How is using ho or being sexist or demeaning to women in a blog different from saying it in conversation? This has very much become a community and it’s mostly women. Fact is, I only know you from what you write on this “silly blog” and that you’ve made unflattering or hostile comments about women and black women in particular hasn’t gone unnoticed by me.

  21. Whoa now, Nelly. Dkan71, the little slights I’ve said about women at this blog are few and minor in scope. I did mention that I almost wanted to “B-smack” Palin, plus dropped the word “Ho” a few times. In the whole scheme of things, it’s nothing compared to the trash-talk of today. Posting anonymously on a blog isn’t as personal or hurtful as saying something to someone’s face. Moreover, I’ve never directed any anger or hostility toward anyone at this blog. In fact, I believe I’m supportive and friendly to others. Am I perfect? No. Could I harbor some subconscious negativity toward black woman in general? Perhaps. Do black women show the same for me? Maybe. We’re all flawed beings here. I think the good I do always outweighs the bad. If you see me as basically a negative person, I’m sorry I give you that impression. There’s always room for improvement and I’m working on it. I’m actually nicer in person, since I tend to keep my emotions inside. Peace, light and happiness always

  22. BTW, Dkan71, you women don’t always hear you sound. Please listen to the catty remarks that women make about how others dress, how much weight they’ve gained, how ugly they look, etc, etc (I’m sure you’re the exception and don’t do this). I listen to these comments all day long and I just ignore them. What you detest in others is what you detest in yourself. I say this knowing that I’m very critical of certain people at times. That’s why we should all refrain from judgement. So I gladly accept your judgement of me. “Judge ye not lest ye be judged.”

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