Posted on March 13, 2009

Death of Two Black Comedy Shows Says More About TV Than Race

Eric Deggans, St. Petersburg Times, March 11, 2009

{snip} With the recent death of CNN’s D.L. Hughley Breaks the News and Comedy Central’s Chocolate News, does this indicate an unwillingness to laugh at race-based humor in the age of Obama?

Gotta say, doesn’t feel that way to me.

First, I’m not sure its wise to lump both shows together. Hughley’s show died, in part, because it was awful. He’s a pretty good comic with some interesting takes on politics and news, but that doesn’t add up to the kind of sharp, insightful satire that can regularly power a series like he attempted.


The failure of David Alan Grier’s Chocolate News is a different story. Here, I think the show failed because it couldn’t really find an audience. it wasn’t hip enough to draw the young white guys who are Comedy Central’s traditional viewers, and it wasn’t strong enough with black viewers to overcome that deficit.

The other nail in Chocolate News’ coffin was the much more popular show which recently filled its timeslot. Important Things with Demetri Martin. The hidden truth about some black-centered comedy shows, is that they succeed by drawing hip, young white people–the force that really made successes of programs by Dave Chapelle and Chris Rock.

But Martin’s show has been much more successful in tapping that demographic, so Chocolate News’ already dim future was snuffed by his strong debut.