D.L. Hughley's comedy has long since been rich with his insight about politics and global affairs, a fact that led to him getting his own CNN news show in 2008. Though D.L. Hughley Breaks the News went off the air the following year, the veteran funnyman has continued to share his wry insight about what our leaders are doing wrong (pretty much everything) and the state of society (screwed) in his standup and on apperances on shows such as Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher. Hughley has decided to kick his political preaching up a notch and recently released his first book, I Want You to Shut the F*ck Up: How the Audacity of Dopes is Ruining America (Crown, 2012).
The 49-year-old has a great command of world history and American politics; though some of his assertions will garner more than a few eye-rolls (his 'defense' of bullying as a character builder, his commentary on Black women and his recent description of President Obama as being 'like a White kid' among them), many readers will be surprised by just how much he has to offer. Our News and Lifestyle Editor Jamilah Lemieux recently chatted up the California native about the book, the upcoming election, the arrest of his sitcom son and his controversial thoughts about dating sisters.
EBONY: Why do you think that comedians are doing a better job of telling us what’s going on with the world more than the people who are supposed to be doing that?
D.L. Hughley: I think it is more about people’s attention span. Why do people get their news off Twitter? It’s because it’s easier to digest in 140 characters. I think we are a much less complex society than we have ever been, which is probably why people respond to the more simplistic things. Nobody likes to think anymore. People kind of like to have things handed to them or figured out for them. With comedy, the premise is set up in a punch line, so all the parts are there.
EBONY: [EBONY founder] John H. Johnson said the entertainment coverage that he included in his magazines was like giving your child orange juice with their castor oil. Do you think that it’s valuable that you are able to tell people real things?
DH: I think there is a level of catharsis in it. I was in Charlotte and the 'Religious Right,' both Black and White, there didn’t want gay marriage. One of the reasons they pointed it out was that it was 'a sin against God.' Gluttony and greed are also part of the Seven Deadly Sins...God could be just as mad at us for gluttony and greed! I think it’s funny in the way that we process things is almost like children. Like, we have to have good vs. evil or right vs. wrong. Only children think of things in such simple kinds of terms.
EBONY: How have we gotten to that place overtime? Is it technology?
DH: I think that’s it. We are the grandchildren of people who did great things. [Yet] we are not great… Everything is me me me me me. One time we sent a man on the moon and now, we are not that advanced. It is amazing when you watch the fact that our fathers could sell us that we are the best labor force in the world. If that’s the case, why don’t companies ever hire us to do anything? When is the last time you went to an American doctor? I think it is because we decided we wanted to be a mighty country and not a bright country. We could blow the world up but we can’t read instructions.
With the current election, the Republican Party has pushed the idea of strength or being strong and posing the president as this intellectual snob, do you think that people will vote for strength over intellect?
EBONY: How big of a factor is race/racism in that?
DH: I think the fact that this country has a Black president has driven people insane... It might be okay when you live with somebody who is a different race or work with somebody who is a different race or have someone who is a different race in your family, but when you have to get used to the “mightiest” country in the world, in our minds, being headed by an African American…that has just driven some people crazy...[Obama] has done certain things differently than I think people who voted for him thought he would have. But at the end of it, it is really a simple choice for me. Do I want to role for a man who spent his life trying to make other people’s lives better or do I want to vote for a man who spent his life trying his, his family's and his friends' lives better?
EBONY: Shifting gears,