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DL: No Apologies Needed

By Gary Wien

originally published: 10/01/2007
Darryl Lynn D. L. Hughley will be coming through our area in October to promote his new HBO special and let everyone know that hes the new host of HBOs Def Comedy Jam premiering later this fall. Hes also excited about sharing his views on the world - a place he apparently thinks is severely messed up.

I had the chance to talk with D.L. about his new tour and all of the other stuff the comedian/actor has going on. You can catch him live at the following places:

October 4 - War Memorial Theater, Trenton, NJ
October 5 - The Palace Theatre, Waterbury, CT
October 6 - Bardavon 1869 Opera House, Poughkeepsie, NY
October 26 - Community Theatre, Morristown, NJ

For more information visit www.myspace.com/dlhughley

Your comment about the Rutgers Women basketball team on The Tonight Show caused a bit of a stir, were there really protests outside your shows?
I think it has to be more than four people to be a protest, but there were a few people who decided they were going to exercise their right to protest yeah. It was kind of disappointing because even the protesters were lame. One time it was three old dudes and another time it was three fat women. I guess if they were all together it could have been a protest but they were in different cities.

So they were pretty weak...
Downright disheartening it was. I think that if you're going to do something... Well, I thought it was an innocuous joke, I didn't think it was that big of a deal, but I guess people will decide. I can't get worked up about a country that gets more worked up about a black football player killing dogs than it does about a country going to war under false pretenses. I can't see it. I'm not saying the Michael Vick thing was silly but I think for that to be what has galvanized the country's ire as opposed to the fact that we've got soldiers dying and killing and trying to survive in a country we didn't necessarily have to be at war with is amazing to me.

In the news there was a police officer in Arizona who left his police dog in the car and the police dog died. He's on trial. Meanwhile a lady in Ohio who left her baby in a car and it died didn't go to trial. It's amazing to me what we do. Somewhere OJ is sitting at home going, "Damn, I'm glad I didn't fuck with the dog!"

As an artist, are there are lines that you're a little fearful or unwilling to cross?
I don't think so. If there are - and I'm not sure, there may be - I just don't know what they are yet.

I think that anything is subject for a look. I don't think life imitates art, I think art imitates life. So, you can't really decide what will register in the country's psyche but you can decide what you choose to talk about. I don't think there is anything right now as I see it that I wouldn't talk about.

Tell me about the Unapologetic tour. What sort of things can people expect?
Well, I think that whatever we see in the news. Like to me, it's so hypocritical what I see going on in the country. You have the NAACP trying to bury the N-word. When you look at it there are more black people who die from eating fried foods and not exercising than ever died from the N-word. You'll never go to the doctor and hear that your cholestrol level's coming down but have you been saying nigger a lot lately?

Then you have all these corporations who are deciding to take a stand against hip hop. Wal-Mart won't sell you a record that has violent or profane content, but you can go to Wal-Mart and buy a gun. It's like you can't get 50 Cent in this joint but you can get a .357? "You're not going to use that gun in one of your rap videos are you?" "No, I was going to shoot up a school." "Oh that's fine!" It's like people want to ban songs about guns but nobody wants to ban a fuckin' gun!

Does the material change often? Is it straight from the news?
I think it's from my experience. When I watch what happens... like Larry Craig. I didn't even know that tapping your foot on a bathroom floor was the symbol for gay sex and I don't even know what happens next. Does a dick come out of the ceiling like a boxing announcer? I just don't know.

Tell me about the HBO special.
We did it in Washington, D.C. and it's called Unapologetic because there's so many people who go afoul of the mainstream and apologize immediately whether they mean it or not just so they don't have to suffer the country's ire. It's just so disingenous to me. I think people should be able to say what they say and if they feel like apologizing they should, but not to curry favor from others.

When someone gets up to the level you're at with the television roles and hosting, what is it that keeps you interested in doing tours?
I think there's no love for me like the one I have for being on stage. None. There's no match for it. There's no way I can duplicate it. I love performing and I love seeing stuff in the news and being in front of a live audience. There's no subsititute for that.

And now you'll be the host for what has really become a comedy institution. What's it like to be the host of Def Comedy Jam?
It's funny because I grew up on Def Jam. I think when I first started it was as a young comic and now to come back as a guy who does it for a living for real is well that old adage that you can't go home again is not true. You can go home sometimes.

Is it cool seeing the new blood?
Some of them are cool. I think the Def Jam is what it always has been. It's a showcase for some really bright up-and-coming talent and it's also the death knell for some comics as well. It's both. It's the best thing and the worst thing that ever happened to black comics.

Finally, do you think part of the reason Studio 60 failed is because reality TV is pushing good writing off of network TV to cable?
Well, I think that good writing is relative. Argueably I was on a show that was the most anticipated show of the last ten years. We were crowned the king before we ever took a step. The writing was outstanding but it just didn't connect with America. I think it's a very subjective thing. There are any number of people who think - probably the largest audience in the country - American Idol is the cleverist, best written show ever.

It seems like people expect great writing these days to be at a place like HBO.
Well, HBO is almost always ahead of its time. I don't care if it's The Sopranos or Def Jam, Six Feet Under or any number of programs that they've done. It has just always been outstanding. They are always on the cutting edge and that's because they see the television landscape differently than most people do.

Do you ever think a show like Studio 60 would have worked there better than on NBC?
When I first read the script for the pilot and we did the first show I was like buying a time share in Barbados because I thought we were really going to happen. By the third show, I knew it wasn't going to happen. I thought I better change that time share to a small hotel room in Englewood. We just took ourselves too seriously.

Gary Wien has been covering the arts since 2001 and has had work published with Jersey Arts, Elmore Magazine, Princeton Magazine, Backstreets and other publications. He is a three-time winner of the Asbury Music Award for Top Music Journalist and the author of Beyond the Palace (the first book on the history of rock and roll in Asbury Park) and Are You Listening? The Top 100 Albums of 2001-2010 by New Jersey Artists. In addition, he runs New Jersey Stage and the online radio station The Penguin Rocks. He can be contacted at gary@newjerseystage.com.

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