DL Hughley not only 'broke the news' on last night, but he broke some barriers and brought us into a new frontier. He was the first comedian - and a black comedian at that - to have a show on a well-known cable news program, and he and other actors in it tackled racism.
That was not only radical, it was historical, by both him and CNN for allowing it. The Right must have been frothing at the mouth over the truths DL Hughley told.
DL's opening monologue of political satire began a bit rocky. The jokes had a rushed feel to it and he was clearly nervous. I cut the brother some slack, after all, he was in new and uncharted territory and knew it.
Hughley has never been known as a politically savvy comedian like Chris Rock or Dave Chappelle. His strength was not trying to be one of them. Instead he was himself, and for me, it worked.
This is an important point, because if we hold all black comedians to the standards of two greatest ones of this century, then we've thrown away a lot of other good talent.
This briefly happened to Hughley. In 2007, that redneck pundit Imus was kicked off his own show for awhile after calling the women on the Rutgers basketball team "nappy-headed hoes."
DL got tangled in this mess when interviewed later on Jay Leno. He agreed the women were nappy-headed and some of the ugliest he'd ever seen. He speaks his mind, but that's one time he stuck both feet in his mouth by appearing to side with Imus (a huge no-no in the black community), and being too specific in who he was calling ugly.
The show biz savvy Jay Leno saw the blunder immediately and tried to help out by quickly ending the show, but it was too late to salvage DL's greatest ever fait accompli.
We all make at least a few stupid mistakes, but if we blow off everyone who does, no one will be left, including us.
Thus, I don't hold it against him. Don't hate, but I'm forgiving like that as long as mistakes aren't consistent and a central part of someone's character.
If anything, I take more issue with bourgeois blacks who vilify the black underclass by sensationalizing a handful of news stories about black teens, men, and musicians as though whites don't have these issues too. It's as though they don't realize they're undermining the black family in the process, and aiding white racists by not examining the larger social issues.
This group also usually whines endlessly about the use of the N-word in comedy and music. I like that multi-purpose word when used among blacks. I'm with Whoopi on this. It's our damn word. We claimed it as our own, and thus diluted the power that racist whites had over it.
Can't tell the Hughley haters any of this. They wrote him off. Their loss, because he learned from his mistake and has grown immensely. That's quite an accomplishment for brotha with only a GED who years ago, used to get on my nerves cracking jokes at the expense of members in his audience. If the show survives, he may go down in history as one of the most memorable comedic social commentators of our time.
I'm serious, that nigga did a comeback and was truly radical last night in dealing with racism.
I most appreciated that his jokes and the skits were not of the Steppin' Fetchit, denigrating type, nor were they of 'let's show how niggas can act a fool' variety that so infuriated me in David Greer's first episode of Chocolate News.
No, DL Hughley was radical in hitting racism head on, one joke after another. It's as though the sole purpose of his first episode was to address the nuttiness of racism.
At one point I thought his material was so risqué that he might alienate whites in his audience; at another I thought he might alienate blacks. He went after everyone, but for viewers able to tolerate a critique of where we are in this country during this election, his truth-in-humor - without bitterness - was a social commentary that resonated with me, and many times, the show was hilarious.
Another was his interview with Neil De Grasse-Tyson, an intense hunk of a brotha who is an Harvard-educated astrophysicist and Director of the Hayden Planetarium. DL did a skit-type review of black presidents in past movies, leading up to the last one where Morgan Freeman starred who had the crisis of an comet rapidly approaching earth. He was a riot interviewing DeGrasse-Tyson, who was also funny. Watch this:
DL went to a Palin rally and interviewed the folks there. That was a definitely funny, but it's genius was both his sheer audacity in doing this, and his charm in how he used humor. A lot of the Palin supporters unexpectedly connected with him. You'll love this:
One clever skit was the show's riskiest. DL interviewed another black comedian (couldn't find his name) who dressed as pimp in purple - named Freddie Mac. I thought, oh no, not this on CNN! That skit had a deep message: that predatory housing lenders, Wall Street and our government pimped the American people.
I suspect this skit, however, turned off a number of blacks before watching the whole thing, as the knee-jerk reaction is not wanting white viewers to see us play the age old stereotype of a pimp since most of us are hoping Obama will win. The comedic brilliance of it was that Wall Street is a far bigger pimp than anything we've ever seen in our communities.
This is but another reason I contend that the DL Hughley show was radical. It throws the light on the hypocrisy of racism, and did it with style and humor.
Lastly, DL winged an interview with former Bush spokeman Scott McClellan. That was nicely done and the two men had a comfortable connection. Hughley was able to tease out who McClellan will vote for on November 4th: Barack Obama.
Damn but it's a new day. Change is everywhere. Thank God I've lived to see it.