Sunday, November 30, 2008

Is "Chocolate News" On The Same Creative and Cutting Edge Levels As "The Daily Show" And "The Colbert Report"?

The show doesn't do it for me. Too many black stereotypes and not enough cutting edge ideas to make black folk think about the cultural and social beliefs our community clings too. A black politically based comedy show should challenges the images and people of the black community, not allow us to embrace the same tired things we make fun of.

The show seems like retreads of "In Living Color" and "Mad TV", nothing truly memorable or groundbreaking. What do you think? Any fans of this show out there? Is this show anywhere as interesting or intellectual are "The Daily Show" and "The Colbert Report" can sometimes be? Is that too much to expect?


Thought November 30, 2008 at 8:10 AM  

I've watched a few shows and I think his stuff is hit or miss. Sometimes, it has me laughing like crazy. Other times, I'm like WTF????

But I think the comparison to the Daily Show and The Colbert Report isn't legitimate. David Allan Grier is a comedian, and what we're seeing is his vision. Just because that vision includes some In Living Color jokes, does that make it a bad vision? Even The Daily Show and The Colbert Report have bad nights and bad jokes.

poetess58 November 30, 2008 at 8:48 AM  

Disappointment! It's some bull-sh** for real! I expected something much funnier and thought provoking than this. And I'm whippin D.A.G.'s ass, on sight, just for that Peanut Wiggins skit. After all this time in the business, does he not know any writers that could help him create a really great show? or is this someone else's idea and he's just the 'talent'/slave? either way it says a lot about him. His tired, simple, no-pride having ass should spend less time in the make-up chair & dressing in drag and more time researching and writing better material.

Professor Tracey November 30, 2008 at 12:38 PM  

@Thought -

I see you point, but the show is being promoted as being in the same view as those shows. If he wants to do skits on anything and everything, then he should do the David Alan Grier Show and not pretend he's doing a black news parody at all!

Poetess 58 -

LOL! Tell us what you really feel. I am in such agreement.

dklittle2 November 30, 2008 at 3:01 PM  

LUV yr blog BTW, stumbled across it couple of months ago and you ROCK! Funny that you write this but I was just thinking about this late last night (up working) and Chocolate News' competitor for the hot mess award, DL Hughley was on briefly. I am so embarrassed for him, embarrassing us on CNN. Been thinking of some way to do a Jena 6 level appeal to voluntarily have his mess canceled and if he refuses, go to the stupid big bosses that are allowing this. Ed Bradley, king of Black journalism cool, must be spinning in grave at Hughley and Grier --- not a good way to end your career, which will end badly because these shows are horrific, Godawful and that is being kind. If CNN wants to be cutting edge, air re-runs of The Boondocks (now THAT is cutting commentary). And when Hughley and Grier get gone, can they take happy to be tragic mulatto-ess Soledad O'Brien with them. She is the equivalent of a Black Sara Palin to me, a disgrace at every level.

Thought November 30, 2008 at 3:05 PM  

Professor Tracey, I compare the show more to the Sarah Silverman show (so yeah, it probably should be called the D.A.G. show).

But I guess my point is that merely labeling the show as having 'too many Black stereotypes' is an insufficient criticism.

As an example, look at the skit on Nickelodian hiring a Black guy to do a TV Show. These are some of the questions posed that I'm sure are going on in many of our heads about many of these networks, including:
- why don't they have any Black shows?
- why do the few Black shows that they do have always seem to fail?

Yeah, there were stereotypes portrayed in this skit, but it does make you think about stuff. I just think that the bar for a good show is way too high.

I mean by this standard, even the Chappelle Show was a bad show.

Christopher Chambers November 30, 2008 at 3:52 PM  

Poking fun at the stereotypes is a legitimate device. Indeed, this is also basic skit comedy. If your criticism is that they do not do it well, well that might be attributable to the fact that we don't nuture satirical black writers. We are hard wired to the Def Comedy Jam Comic View individual buffoon funnyman paradigm. Cursing. Imitating white folks as either yokels or ramrod up the ass puritans. But there's very little craft. That's why 90% of black sitcoms were and are crap.
I like Chocolate News. It serves it's purpose, especially given the dearth of true lampooning writers it can draw upon, as opposed to Colbert. Plus, Colbert's format is different.

So leave DAG alone, Auntie, or I'll pull of that kerchief and expose that nappy kitchen...

Professor Tracey November 30, 2008 at 5:09 PM  

@Chris -

Clearly you don't which blog you're reading. I'm just raising discussion and that's the point of the blog. I discuss, debate and critique whatever I please. You're welcome to your opinion, but that's about it. I LOVE dissenting voices like yours as long as they are respectful of others.

And just a word of warning, threats or attempting to pull a kerchief on this here blog will get your ass kicked in a literary sense! And unless you got a nappy kitchen, don't bring it up, I don't take kindly to remarks directed about black women's hair particularly by men who don't have to suffer all that black hair related bullshit.

Quite frankly, the only folks who find legitimacy in poking fun at black stereotypes is white folks, except when they are the butt of the joke! And considering how long ago In Living Color was you would hope and think that DAG would have some new ideas.

I do not watch black sitcoms, reality shows, or Def Comedy Jam, those shows have never appealed to me, so stop stereotyping folks who wish to critique. And Dave Chappelle proved that black comedians need to be careful with stereotypes, even he was disturbed with strange white folks yelling "I'm Rick James, Bitch" to him in person. Part of the reason he pulled the plug.

Chocolate News And D.L. Hughley's latest coon hour invention are prefect examples of how black folks are still treated as second class. They are all kinds of new black talent out there that can't get a break, but white America loves to employ the clowns.

poetess58 November 30, 2008 at 5:12 PM  

@ Thought,
Friend, I'm sorry but when you have to explain a joke in depth like that then it's NOT FUNNY! You don't have to defend D.A.G., he is a funny guy.His impersonations are great and he is even funny, well he was, and maybe that is why I'm so disappointed with his effort. My criticism with the stereotypes is what is the point that he's making? With the example that you gave, who is the joke on? Black people, because the Fat Man character was too ignorant to have his own show and wouldn't know not to call his wife a bitch and resort to 'booty chicks' videos and threatening his own daughter with violence? so is the joke that we don't get Nickelodean shows cause we are too ignorant, scary and stupid to adjust to the audience and white people are too scared to challenge us because they don't know what to do with us as characters? he could have taken that in many directions but he played to sterotype and FAILED. My criticism is the satire gets lost in translation somehow. I mean he has moments where a skit can really have some potential and he never brings it home. I'm not one who thinks all people have to represent the race in a certain way but his show is Bullsh** and it AINT FUNNY! I'm sorry. I was so excited to watch it and I don't watch much tv. Came home early and was let down with the first episode but said ok try again cause I may have expected too much too soon. Second time, Let down! I even made myself chocolate martinis and watched it on the weekend while I was 'relaxed' and all I wanted to do was snatch that old negro through the tv and smack him for blowing my buzz. He's at least 50, sheesh. Damn, can't he call Paul Mooney, Aaron McGruder or someone with good satirical writing skills to help him? I mean politically, globally, socially, culturally there is a satirical comedy gold mine out there and Wigga Rehab, Peanut Wiggins, & Fat Black Mama's is the best he can do for 'news satire'? My standard's are too high? sh******t, Aaron McGruder, Chris Rock and Dave Chapelle already paved the way for him to be brave and put it out there. They did it and managed to be funny with hit's and misses. DAG is 0-25 at this point I don't think expecting a 50-something, Black male, self-proclaimed comedian/actor, born and raised in the U.S. of A to 'bring it' satirically makes my standards too high. Maybe he's too old and scared to do that? If he can't go hard then he should go home. Ceephus & Reesie(ILC skit) impersonations don't cut it 20 years later for a 'news satire' show. I'd rather watch reruns if I want to see that.I'm sorry Prof, I think I kinda blogged in your comments. :/ my bad.

Professor Tracey November 30, 2008 at 5:13 PM  

@Folks -

In general, hasn't the black community moved past the same old stereotypes raised on these shows? And where exactly is the new black talent? Any ideas?

Sheryl November 30, 2008 at 7:47 PM  

I totally agree with poetess58. I tried watching this show a couple of times and all I see is tired old stereotypes. Sometimes it's funny, but mostly it's just tired. A joke can be funny 20 years after it's first told, but not when your hear every week for 20 years. That's how I feel about DAG jokes. I watched reruns of the Boondocks last night and am amazed at how different its is from Chocolate News. Sometimes it's not funny, but it does make you think. That's the kind of stuff I'd like to see more of.

Kit (Keep It Trill) November 30, 2008 at 9:11 PM  

To piggyback on what Sheryl said about Boondocks, Aaron McGruger would have been my preferred producer to Chocolate City with a different lead comedian.

My take is that whoever is bankrolling this show has a specific type of comedy they want to see executed, and Greer just gets to perform the scripts that are approved.

Re: stereotypes. This is what most comedians make their bread and butter from. Boondocks does this too, but integrates with a fresh commentary about social genuine social issues. He's very intellectual in his approach; so was Dave Chappelle and Chris Rock is too. Bill Cosby was not, and neither is Alan Greer.

Whoever is producing Greer's program is looking at black audiences in the rear-view mirror of the past. We have evolved with the rest of the general population, and this may be why so many of us find it disappointing at times, offensive.

Claudia November 30, 2008 at 9:38 PM  

I agree, too. Chocolate News's satire misfires so often, in my opinion, because it is too heavy-handed, lacks subtlety and direction. And ironically, it is Grier and other black comics in the 1980s and 1990s that paved the way for more complex, cutting edge black comedy today. I'm not going to act as if Dave Chapelle was the Messiah, but he took risks with his message that Grier seems unwilling and unable to take. Look no further than the opening credits and that red, black, and green map of Africa morphing into the shape of America. I'm sorry, what year is this again? Let me get out my X cap and Cross Color jeans. I know they could be more creative than that.

I also think the comparison to The Daily Show and Colbert Report is legitimate. I heard somewhere that Grier envisioned his show as a parody of the Tony Brown Journal - and even that show is stuck in the 1980s!

Having said this, I also remember when Jon Stewart first started on "The Daily Show" - it took him a while to get going. So maybe, just maybe there's hope.

ActsofFaithBlog November 30, 2008 at 11:43 PM  

Nope it needs to go! Chocolate News is the lesser of the twin evil unleashed and the other is from DL Idiot. The only caveat is that Comedy Central is a comedy channel. I am far more offended by DL but they are both harmful. Not funny. Stereotypical drivel. I'm glad you set the other commenter straight because he was totally out of line and his response only goes to prove why these shows appeal to the lowest quality people who will defend them to their dying breath while spewing the same garbage back at anyone who sees the forest for the trees. There are PLENTY of talented writers well-trained and ready to work but they are not being hired because this white backlash has been planned to do as much damage to any rise of fortune by Black people that might occur during an Obama administration. Not necessarily because of him but from people finally waking up from apathy. Anyone who still wants to defend this crap needs serious medical care. If Chapelle chose to walk away from $50M and not let his show become crap then we can certainly turn the crap off AND lodge the appropriate protest and take matters into our own hands to get rid of it! There is NO EXCUSE!

poetess58 December 1, 2008 at 2:11 AM  

@ Prof Tracey,
I think he or his producers should search the blogs for fresh writing. There are so many talented and funny writers out there with that irreverent sense of humor and great ideas to pitch and all they need is a shot.

Thought December 1, 2008 at 10:23 AM  

"Anyone who still wants to defend this crap needs serious medical care. "
- ActsofFaithBlog,

Really? You're saying that two intelligent people can't just have differing opinions on the show? You've got to question my sanity because I'm defending the show? I really don't think thats called for.

But onto the point (I think) that the offensive Chris was trying to make. This very blog: "Aunt Jemima's Revenge" is based on a steriotype - that of the Aunt Jemima. So I could easily have come here and criticized this blog for exploiting steriotypes. But I get more from this blog.

I found this site and started reading the posts and found that while I don't agree with everything posted here, it does offer me a set of opinions that I find interesting.

I'm not saying that EVERYBODY needs to be in love with DAG or his show. I'm not saying that all his jokes are funny to everybody. But I'm able to see past the stereotypes in his show to the questions he raises about society. There are some skits that piss me off, but there are also a lot that just make me laugh.

And as far as him attracting the "lowest quality people", well first off, its kinda offensive to be that judgemental on people labeling them "the lowest quality". Do I fit into this group? I'd think not, but according to you, maybe so...

But we have to realize that everybody in America is not in academia. Everybody in America doesn't want to sit and philosophize about Nietzsche's works. Some people just want to be able to laugh after a hard day's work. So I view Chocolate News in the same vein as stuff like commerical hip hop (where I'm generally against what gets played on the radio). I realize that not everybody wants to hear a socially conscious song at all hours of the day. Sometimes people just want to hear good music when they get off work. Sometimes people want to hear somebody else actually say what they're thinking. So whether that's Lil Wayne saying "I'm the best rapper alive" or D.A.G. saying "Why are there so few Black shows on TV?", I think we've got to allow people to be individuals and to choose for themselves what they like and dislike without the threats of being labeled as "lowest quality" for doing so.

Professor Tracey December 1, 2008 at 10:37 AM  

@Thought -

I feel your points, we can all agree to disagree. I enjoy your dissenting view, the blog would be boring otherwise.

I disagree with your assessment of my blog's name. I do not embrace the stereotypical image of Aunt Jemima at any point on this blog, in fact the name, Aunt Jemima's Revenge, clearly states that I am turning any idea of that image on it's head.

My outspokenness and sometimes controversial views on this blog are a testimony to defying that ideal of the grinning, silent black woman that the Aunt Jemina image represented. I am quite proud of being able to do that.

Thought December 1, 2008 at 10:47 AM  

"Friend, I'm sorry but when you have to explain a joke in depth like that then it's NOT FUNNY! "
- poetess58

Thats YOUR OPINION. I found it pretty funny. And what's more, I found it as intellectual humor. Why?
- Because these are the same questions my friends and I are asking
- and because it leads to a discussion during the commercial breaks and once the show is over about how Blacks are treated.

As far as it being insulting to Blacks, you've also got to understand that not all Blacks think the same. America is and has for a long time been a copycat society. So often we see one person come out with something unique and then a million people come out with their own copycat versions of that. So it wouldn't surprise me if people are trying to copycat shows such as "Flavor of Love" to get on the air because this is one of the latest Black shows to have high ratings.

So The question "who is the joke on" isn't a direct question. I don't see the joke being on any individual person or segment of society. I see it as being a joke on society itself.
- the network (in this case Nickelodien) is funny because they want to target Blacks, but don't know how
- Fat Man is funny because he wants to get a show, but doesn't know how to put together a show.
- The lady who works at Nickelodien is funny because she says she wants to get "a good one", saying that she wants a good actor, but that Wayne Brady is also a good Black Man.

I do see the problems you raise with this skit and I'm not trying to ignore them. But I don't have the opinion that just because there's a skit about a dumb Black man it implies that all Black men are dumb.

There's a joke from Chris Rock back in the 1990's talking about a civil war going on in Black America. Remember the line, "I love Black people, but I hate N*****"? I saw this skit on that level. People like Fat Man to me are partially the reason why we get less opportunities (not just on television but in general) because when given opportunities, they waste them by doing stupid stuff. But I'm not going to blame it all on people like Fat Man because there's an inherent racism that's been present and ignored in this country for a long time now (hence the Nickelodien station itself and the woman who works at Nickelodien).

Like I said before though, this is his vision. I'm not saying that its 100% right, but its how he sees the world.

As much as people have praised Boondocks, that show has been criticized by Blacks for the same reasons - overhyping stereotypes to make Black people look stupid. I mean, they had the entire court start dancing when R. Kelly got acquitted, and the only ones who had a problem with that was Huey and corny dude.

But I'm looking past the surface level of just the presence of stereotypes and actually analyze the social commentary that the artists are making in their works. And its this social commentary that makes me laugh, not the surface level jokes.

Claudia December 1, 2008 at 10:58 AM  


You may not have been directing your comment to me, but I'm going to take your remarks seriously and actually make an effort to watch more of the show so that I can be very clear about what irks me. I've watched two episodes of Chocolate News and found them uneven at best - maybe I'll stumble across the questions that you say Grier raises about society, and change my mind.

I'd also like to add, however, that the issue isn't just the use of "stereotypes." I agree that we should be more precise with that term. The issue (for me, at least) is how these over-simplified images of blackness are used. Does the comedy challenge or subvert the negative connotations or just reinforce them? Sometimes an attempt to do the former can still result in the latter. (i.e. Young Jeezy's "My President is Black") And this is also the impression I get from my limited viewing of Chocolate News.

I agree that sometimes it feels good to just laugh after a hard day's work. But you have to admit that Comedy Central could have tried much harder to find fresh, new black comedic talent. I think Wyatt Cenac, one of the new black Daily Show correspondents is really funny. And "30 Rock" has completely changed my mind about Tracey Morgan - some of the exchanges between him and "Two-fer" manage to be both hilarious and thought-provoking when it comes to race (and not in an academic, philosophical way - LOL).

Enjoyed reading your blog, by the way!

RiPPa December 1, 2008 at 4:00 PM  

I think the show sucks! I watched two episodes, and I wasn't impressed. I don't care about the shuckin and jiving shit. I just think there's too much David Allen Grier. People who know I love comedy have been trying to convince me that this show is hilarious, but I don't think so.

The writing stinks in comparison to the other fake news shows on Comedy Central. But hey, they're just trying to go after that open market since Chappelle is gone. They did the same thing with "Mind Of Mencia" and to me that failed horribly as well. Plus David Allen Grier is just not funny to me. Did I mention that?

Mari-Djata December 1, 2008 at 10:11 PM  

The show is garbage. Every time I see it I cringe. It is so misogynistic, it is racist, and just good ole not funny. It just makes me shake me head.

Brigitte December 5, 2008 at 2:10 PM  

It's not TDS or TCR but I still find the show funny. Do I wish it had real guests instead of all the skits? Yep, but I'm not sure if I'd want DAG hosting that one.

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