How Hulu’s Woke Balances Its Comedy And Discussions About Race, According To The Co-Creator

Hulu’s Woke doesn’t waste any time jumping headphones-first into the drama at the show's core. The first episode of Season 1 sees our protagonist Keef Knight as the victim of racial profiling and police brutality, which leads him to become “woke” as he starts down the challenging road to activism. Make no mistake, though, the show is a comedy through and through. Boasting a cast of comedic stars that includes New Girl’s Lamorne Morris and Workaholics vet Blake Anderson (who is still making weed jokes), there’s no shortage of humor. So the question is, how do the writers manage to strike a balance between real-world issues of racial injustice and bonkers, surrealist comedy?

Season 2 of Woke recently premiered on Hulu, and it upped the ante in terms of the important issues on display, which are often a reflection of real-life happenings. Given that the show is loosely based on the background of co-creator Keith Knight, one would assume that he wants to ensure there is a proper balance when it comes to how the jokes being told stack up with the important racial issues underlying everything. CinemaBlend spoke with Knight about the new season, and when we asked him how said balance was struck, he told us this:

Well, I just want to quote Mo Marable — Maurice Marable, wish he could be here — the director. Who is amazing and he would always say on set, he always would say, ‘It's funny, but it's not a joke.’ And I thought that was a great thing that he would say. I think when you do a dramedy, I've never been a big fan of that, but from making this show, I realized that I never want to lose the funny. I don't want to lose the funny as serious as it gets. I never want I want it to, you know, suddenly the season turns dark, you know? But I realize now that you've got to have stakes for the characters in order for it to affect you. You’re going to have to care about the characters. And so I think we managed to have just that. We have enough drama in there so that you care about what happens to these guys. And I think that really makes it a show that you really love as opposed to watching it laughing and then forgetting about it.

So for the msot part, Keith Knight’s primary goal is to keep the show as real life as can be, by tackling these issues with the comedic elements intact, but without necessarily making things feel jokey. This is certainly fitting, given that the cartoonist has made a career writing political comics that tackle some heavy subjects while undercutting things with humor.

As previously mentioned, the show features a fictionalized take on the creator, Keef Knight, as played by Lamorne Morris, who has taken on a solid collection of projects since New Girl’s ending. When Keef experiences police brutality and racial profiling firsthand, he becomes “woke” to more of life's many injustices, which is represented through inanimate objects coming to live and giving him advice in loud and hilarious ways. His main confidant in said group is simply a marker with eyes and a mouth, voiced by none other than Curb Your Enthusiasm vet J.B. Smoove. Someone could stick Smoove in the most serious movie or TV show imaginable, and he'd still find a way to bring the laughs, 

Season 2 follows Keef as he navigates his newfound activism and the fame that sometimes comes with it, and any fan of comedy should definitely give Woke a shot. Along with Blake Anderson and Lamorne Morris, the show also features solid performances from stand-up comedian T. Murph and SNL vet Sasheer Zamata, who more recently was part of the voice cast for the Oscar-nominated The Mitchells Vs. The Machines.

You can see both seasons of Woke on Hulu right now! The streamer has quite a few new offerings this month. If regular network TV is more your style, we’ve also got you covered with our handy list of 2022 TV premiere dates!

Jeff McCobb
Senior Video Producer

Jeff started his career producing television commercials in his hometown of Fresno, California. After a few years, he came across the opportunity to make a living talking about his favorite thing: movies. Jeff is a film buff who is full of gratitude that he gets to spout opinions about them for a living. He currently resides in Los Angeles, where he spends his time complaining about Los Angeles.