Sunday, October 26, 2008

DL Hughley:
Breaking News And Breaking Barriers

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.


  1. kit: I must admit that I'm one of those people who had written him off; and I think I had good reasons for doing so. I've heard him say some of the most negative things about black people, about black women especially, cursing and calling black people niggas all the while. To be fair, I've heard the same type of stuff from Chris Rock. I'm sick of rich black men putting down black people.

    But you're right: people can change. I'll give him a second look.

  2. kit: I forgot to say that it puzzled me that people would criticize Hughley for the things he said about black women but not Chris Rock. If you think about it, Rock has been doing this for some time...

    Just because Rock says funny stuff shouldn't give him a pass on straight-up sexist, almost hateful, things he says about black women.

  3. Kit, you're right on point with this. We black people are much too critical and quick to throw away our own over a few mistakes or being too sensitive about jokes that make fun of women or men. We are different, and at times that is funny. MacDaddy is right in wondering why we don't mind when Chris Rock does this, but want to beat up on Hughly and others for the same thing. As long as the jokes are for fun and not out of meaness, I laugh!

    I watched the show with 8 friends at a get together last night and we loved it, even the two who had reservations. I hope it stays on.

  4. I thought the show was well done. I think your assesment of the rythm of the show was on point. He started slow, but finished strong.

    And as loose with the lips as I am, I'm soooo feeling your breakdown on these "uppity" negroes. I hate that shit! And thats why I particulary enjoyed the bit he did where showed the clip of early Sammy Davis Jr. People needed to see that. They needed to see how it was years ago, and understand just hpw far we've come when it pertains to "entertainment".

    Of course you know my brind of humor as I continuously write the stuff I write. But, I'm gonna go on a tirade the likes of Little Richard....


    Damn right!

    I wrote about Fannie & Freddie being a pimp and prostitute team several weeks ago, and now my bit got on CNN.

    I need to get paid for my shit dammit amd I aint playin!!!!!!

  5. Freddie Mac is played by Donnell Rawlings

  6. Actually this is a better link for Rawlings:

  7. I think it's a good format. With some fine-tuning as they go along it will get better. I think he is good a political humor. I think once he finds the shows rhythm and CNN continues to commit, I think he will do well and the viewing audience will grow.

  8. Needs better writers ASAP!!

    D.L. was funnier when he was broke. And he has GOT to quit laughing in the middle of his own jokes.

    I paid good money to see this negro fifteen years ago, and he delivered.

    I don't know anymore.

    Why do his writers insist on giving him lines with words he is not comfortable pronouncing, or sentences that have so many words in them, he can't manage to keep his natural cadence and make the tempo work?

    I shook his midget ass hand fifteen years ago and wished him well.

    I saw him live here in the ATL at Phillips Arena a few years back, and he just about got booed off the stage because he sounded like he was drunk and rambling - if we wanted that, we could have stayed at home and listened to each other over a bottle of liquor.

    I'm glad the brother made a lot of money. I'm not asking him to be Chris Rock, but bruh man, take your shit in a new direction - even Bernie Mac knew how many "black folks don't do this" declarations he could make before his audience, black or white, got tired of it.

    Every rapper knows that talking greasy is not the issue - being understood is.

    The best part of D.L.'s show last night was when he had Scott McClellan on - when he had the black physicist on he had the "we just two niggers getting over" look and sound.

    I don't care if he builds his act around crack hoes, he just needs to work at being a master of his craft. Cause right now, Arnez J is looking like a good mid-season replacement.

    Katt Williams can do nigger shit better than anybody else out there right now, including Paul Mooney, in my opinion.

    You can see the amount of work he puts in his act in his delivery.

    THAT'S why I'm mad at D.L. - for being in the game this damn long, it makes no sense for professional comedian to laugh that damn much in the middle of his jokes.

    "Not never", as Katt says.

  9. I can not imagine a show like this on CNN only one year ago. It doesn't get any more mainstream than that, when we can finally laugh at racism. If Comedy Central isn't jealous, they should be.

    DL and the other comedian and his guests ran with this opportunity to the finish line. It wasn't a perfect race like you said, but he won and so did all of us, black and white.

    This show at this time on that station tells me America is past ready for change and is already changing for the better.

  10. The good thing is, we get to have our own Conan O'Brien's.

    If they want to pay D.L., its their money.

    I actually thought his "man on the street bit was pretty good, if poorly edited - they were cutting off responses from the public in mid sentence - maybe use longer individual segments.

    The good thing is he gets to try again next week.

    I'm interested to see what he's got going in six weeks.

  11. You lost me with this. This isn't about throwing that ass-wipe under the bus. He is unapologetic about attacking Black women. That is not foot in mouth - that is I Declare War. You can add Chris Rock to that list as well with his last special. It is not okay for them to not be held accountable. They have the right to say whatever they want. They're not going to get my money while calling me out of my name though. And no I don't answer to it. You don't see a bunch of Black female comics with such a high profile talking about trifling Negros getting their own shows. I am not uppity. I see a problem with a man who brags about only having a GED as if that's an accomplishment to be used as a standard. he's an idiot plain and simple. Some media analysis gave the show a 73% failure rating and I hope to see it gone shortly. Perhaps if there were a plethora of shows like this with many voices from a variety of Blacks I could live with it - not if it's going to be posited as 'the' point of view. Check out Melissa Harris Lacewell's blog for her take on this and let me know what you think.

  12. Just had to say, I am with you as far as use of the n-word. I will be honest I grew up in a family that used it all the time and to this day despite being edumucated, I still have a certain fondness for the word. Sadly there are only 1-2 folks I can say it around without getting read the riot act.

  13. Hey Readers! Thank you all for sharing your thoughts and comments on this review. I knew it would bring a variety of strong opinions - well, mainly two: yay and nay.

    I watched the show with an open mind, and blogging politics aside, stand by my opinion. If a few of you don't agree with it after you get a chance to watch it, that's fine, we can agree to disagree on this one and still be alright.

    To Rippa, ouch. I know how you feel about your Freddie Mac joke idea you did in September. Like all of your stuff, it was good. Happened to me too with my political satire piece this month, What About Jamal The Plumber? I sent it to a well known liberal online news site. They rejected it, but two days later they printed a non-satire piece called What About Joe Hussein The Plumber? Damn.

    Once again black concerns took a backseat. I had to remind myself that people do have similar ideas concurrently in order to stay sane, because anyone's individual progress is partly luck and connections. Black progress is even harder: it comes in baby steps in the USA. DL Hughley being able to do jokes and skits about racism and Wall Street pimping on CNN is a radically large baby step. Obama is a genius, but his success in getting this far has been the lottery of luck - and his winning will hopefully be a giant step for all mankind.

    Peace, Kit

  14. I thought Jamal the Plumber was real when I started reading it last week - hilarious!

  15. Brown May, Thanks sweetie! What About Jamal The Plumber is one of my favorite pieces too.

  16. This was such a refreshing review comepared to some of the other humorless idiots I've read elsewhere. Leave it to them and all we'd have to watch is Bill Cosby clones and humor fit for kids only under the age of 16. Some of those women must be butt ugly, hate men and took it personal that Hughley made ONE joke about ugly women. He makes jokes about men too, so what is the big deal? Nearly all comedians do. They were trying to kill his career before they saw the show.

    Then there's the house negroes who can't tolerate adult conversation and bad words or the N-word. Their problem is they think our image should be squeaky so white folks will love them. Bullshit. Whites curse and have raunchy jokes too. Obama is as squeaky clean as they get and he's still hated by most of the McCain voters for being black.

    You hit the bullseye about DL Hughley radically attacking racism with his skits and jokes. I loved that CNN tried this. Thanks for the great post.

  17. Nichelle, Thanks for the compliment and I enjoyed your feedback. I try not to get into a pissing contest with other black bloggers because the pond is so small, and as a people, divided we stand, divided we fall - over the big issues. This ain't one of them.

    Never the less, this seems to be a ridiculously hot topic. I think the Obama election is helping fuel the nervousness over whether White American will accept a black candidate or not, and thus fears of our image are magnified.

    Otherwise I blow off the complaints of sexism because it's a false argument: DLH and other black male and female comedians poke fun at both genders, and I simply don't have a problem with that when a stand up comic laughs at both sexes. I said in the post he screwed up royally by being too specific with the Rutgers team, but I suspect there are some who would tar and feather him as a misogynist anyway, just as others have pegged him as everything from a racist to uncle Tom. It's pretty ridiculous to me because it's just, as you said, adult humor.

  18. I love your blog! It's very creative and you are an original thinker who does the research and a fantastic writer.

    Anyways, I took my time deciding about this show. After watching both, I give it a thumbs up. It was funny and serious, and DL or CNN chose excellent guests to interview. He's really good at this and better than I thought he would be since he didn't finish high school.

    I don't know if you saw the second show, but he interviewed a guy who showed exactly how to throw the election with a voting machine. I haven't seen that anywhere else.

  19. Latoya, Sorry to be getting back with a comment so late, but yes, I enjoyed his 2nd show too, but liked the first one better. I thought CNN made him water down the one last week; it was more 'newsy' than funny, and as such, had less bite to it. It was very good tonight; loved the skits and the guests were great.

    Anonymous, 11/22 @5:39PM, No thank you. I'm not interested in you using my blog to promote your destructive agenda of tearing down a comedian over one bad joke.

    It's cruel and uncalled for, and why in the heck didn't you have anything better to do on a Saturday night than google for 'DL Hughley haters' and leave your rant here after 6 minutes, which wasn't enough time to even read the post? To be honest, your rant reminded me of obsessive haters who have googled for 'Obama is the Antichrist' (I did a post on that nuttiness) in search for verification of their prejudice.

    Chill. DL ain't the enemy. Fixed news is.

  20. Dl I enjoy your show at lot. I think it's a funny and witty a show.I want to ask you a question from African American to another; have you noticed the anchor-persons on CNN now have permenate tan? I'm looking at Jack Cafferty, Wolf Blizter and Anderson Cooper looks a liitle brown. What's going on? Isn't CNN headquarters located in New York? Are they using tanning salons? Some Anglos say they use tanning make-up so they wont look so pale and sickly. I want you to comment about that. Inquiring minds want to know.

  21. Renee, Your inquiring mind asked of DL, "What's going on?"

    I haven't observed what you have, but DL already covered global warming. Perhaps the answer lies there.


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