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David Alan Grier’s Chocolate News is supposed to “Blow the lid off the urban experience in modern America” but based on the video clips we have from the series premiere, which is set to air on Comedy Central on October 15th, I’m not sure this show will do much more than recycle a lot of the same humor we saw back in Grier’s In Living Color days.
Here’s how the series is describe (as mentioned in a press release):
“Chocolate News will take on a variety of contemporary topics from a decidedly African-American perspective and everyone and everything is fair game. The series stars David Alan Grier who, in addition to serving as the acerbic, all-knowing, in-studio host, will also portray multiple characters within the series' investigative reports, which will be presented by a cast of three correspondents.”
Upon reading that, I found my interest piqued. Considering Comedy Central is home to series like The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, South Park, Drawn Together and other series that shed a humorous light on pop-culture, politics and other social issues, Chocolate News sounds like it would fit in nicely there and also bring more of an African American perspective to the network which, aside from some of the stand-up that airs on the channel, is fairly absent. Then I watched these videos:
I remember loving In Living Color back in the day (which I realize was over 15 years ago) but hasn't comedy evolved since then? Do we need another version of that series now? While Chocolate News doesn't appear to follow the same format as the sketch-comedy show, the above videos do seem to fall along the same lines of humor that we often saw in ILC. Granted, these are just two examples of what's in the show but they really do seem to cater to a lot of grossly exaggerated stereotypes. Booty-shaking and jokes about sexual positions from a guy in a leopard print speedo isn't exactly groundbreaking humor.
I'm not saying that Grier needs to approach this comedy series the same way that Jon Stewart or Steven Colbert approach theirs but this new show has the opportunity to shed a humorous light on American culture from an African American perspective to an even wider range of viewers. Why not tackle the issues in a way that's humorous but at the same time, also presents an element of truth about our society from the perspective of black Americans? Or is this humor just going way over my head?
Chocolate News premieres on Comedy Central on Wednesday, October 15, 2008 at 10:30 p.m.