I've always been a fan of Hughley because he's witty and he stays informed, even if he couldn't quote the first 5 words of the 1st Amendment (btw it's "Congress shall make no law..."
) He holds his sack in this interview which has to be respected even if you don't agree with his views.http://www.avclub.com/content/node/65110/Interviewed by Sean O'Neal
August 14th, 2007
D.L. Hughley has always delighted in controversial material, but even he probably couldn't have predicted that a single joke told on The Tonight Show in the wake of the Don Imus scandal (Hughley said of the Rutgers basketball team, "Them are some of the ugliest women I've ever seen in my whole life") would lead to a summer spent defending himself against angry protestors.
Still, the star of the recently cancelled Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip is unrepentant about the backlash—an attitude reflected in the title of his upcoming HBO special, Unapologetic—and he continues to tour the country while promoting his new BET show, S.O.B.: Socially Offensive Behavior. Along with sharing his thoughts on the end of Studio 60, Hughley recently spoke with The A.V. Club's Austin editor about the controversy that refuses to die and offered a response to Gina McCauley, the Austin, Texas woman spearheading the protest against him.
The A.V. Club: Were you surprised at what happened with Studio 60?D.L. Hughley:
No. I think that like most things that are highly touted—the number-one draft pick—we crumpled under the weight of expectations. I think that's a fairly common phenomenon.AVC: What do you think it could have done differently?DLH:
I think we could have not taken ourselves so seriously. We pulled back the curtain too much. It's like when you go to a restaurant: It can be the best restaurant in the world, but I just want to eat the meal. I don't want to know how they make the steak. I think we spent so much time explaining and making what we did "important." We weren't inclusive enough. We had conversations with ourselves to hear ourselves.AVC: While you were still filming, did you have any sense of a backlash?DLH:
Absolutely. I don't think that any of us were shocked. The pilot, I thought it was some of the most well-written television I'd ever seen, and it was the reason I was excited about doing it. But then we just became too aware of ourselves. It's tough to have a show be about a medium that you love and respect—meaning comedy—and see people… It's like seeing a pretty girl with somebody else, and they just don't treat her right. It kinda hurts.AVC: Dave Chappelle said one of the reasons he walked away from his show was that he felt it was helping keep stereotypes alive. Do you ever worry that Socially Offensive Behavior—which also mines stereotypes for laughs—is helping propagate stereotypes?DLH:
Stereotypes existed hundreds of years before me or Chappelle or BET, and the only way they ever go away is to shine a light on it. There's a distinct difference between observing a joke and becoming one. I think that the greatest people I've ever seen involved in this art form—from George Carlin to Pigmeat Markham to Redd Foxx to male private part Gregory to Lenny Bruce—have all done what we do now, which is take a look at the things around us. I love to push people's buttons and watch people deal with the *&^% they have in their head.AVC: And now you're being protested for that.DLH:
This isn't the first time this has happened to me, or to comedians. If you look at what happened to Lenny Bruce or George Carlin or Richard Pryor or Redd Foxx, they've all had this happen. This art form survived McCarthyism. It can survive somebody with a mouth and an e-mail page.AVC: Is the title of your new HBO special, Unapologetic, a direct challenge to those protestors?DLH:
Actually, we had the title before this ever even happened, but no, I don't think any person, regardless of what they say, should ever apologize unless they mean it. In the last few years, we've seen people say exactly what they mean, and then some publicist makes them apologize. And I think we pretend to be more offended than we really are. When Mel Gibson made an anti-Semitic remark, he had a number-one movie, and his Q rating went up. Michael Richards made his statement, and sales of Seinfeld went up 70 percent three weeks in a row. Isaiah Washington made an anti-gay slur. Grey's Anatomy has never been stronger. Don Imus, his numbers went through the roof.AVC: In the case of Michael Richards and Don Imus, though, aren't their careers more or less screwed? Sales of Seinfeld went up, but surely that was because of the new DVDs that came out that week.DLH:
I don't think that's true. And I think Don Imus will be back on the air in the next couple months, and his numbers will be better than ever. I watched Don Imus for probably seven or eight years, and I watched him make remarks about everybody. I watched him support Harold Ford and Barack Obama. I also watched him take politicians to task for their treatment of Katrina victims. I have a bit of context. And it would be hypocritical for me to deny somebody else the right to express themselves the way they see fit.AVC: So when you've called your protestors "clowns" and "buffoons"—DLH:
I think they are! I think they're clowns. In this country, 93 percent of black people are killed by other black people. One in three black people in this country can't read right now. There are more black men in jail than in college. AIDS is growing in the black community at an unprecedented rate. And you're worrying about what a comedian is saying? If you're an activist, do something about the *&^% that you claim is important! Me saying or not saying something is never going to change our station in the world. I've talked about any number of issues. I've been in front of presidents and I've been in front of plumbers, and I've been consistent. I believe what I believe, and I don't have to defend myself. She can say whatever she wants to say—that's her right, and I respect that right. But I will not now, never, or at any time defend myself or apologize for the way I see the world.