D.L. Hughley plays the Royal Farms Arena on Sept. 19 along with Cedric “The Entertainer”, Eddie Griffin, George Lopez and Charlie Murphy.
D.L. Hughley is a household name in comedy. The AFRO spoke with the actor, author, national radio host and one of the original “Kings of Comedy” about continuing power of Bill Cosby, Caitlyn Jenner and the aftermath of Freddie Gray.
J.B.: I watched ‘Going Home’ last week and you have a couple jokes that would most likely be seen as offensive in the ultra-sensitive climate of 2015. Do you still do those types of jokes or do you stay away from that material so as not to offend audience members?
D.L.: I would never stop doing those jokes. I guess about a month and a half ago, people were upset about some things I said about Caitlyn Jenner and I think that the social climate of comedy has changed in that it has a lot more perils. But when you think about how our job started, comedians were court jesters they served at the pleasure of the king. They had to make the king laugh or they got killed, so when you compare that to someone saying something mean about you on Twitter, I think I can handle it.
J.B.: Speaking of Caitlyn Jenner, was there any further backlash from the comments? Did she reach out? Was there any resolution?
D.L.: Here’s the thing, I think that comedy and truth have no temperature. I think that, ultimately, a 65 yr old man deciding to become a 65 yr old woman because that’s what he always wanted to do his whole life is not brave it’s bucket list. Life of the average American male is 72, so if you’re 65 you’re deciding that you’re going to spend the last few years of life, at least on the aggregate, the last few years of your life doing what you want to do. Now that may be noteworthy but I don’t think that’s worth an award. And I think that’s the comedic vantage point if it. It all lives in truth and ultimately truth is going to make some people uncomfortable and that is kind of the inherent risk of what we do.
J.B.: You’re playing Baltimore this weekend. Have you been following the Freddie Gray trial?
D.L.: How could I not, Baltimore is one our largest affiliates, we are on the radio there and one of our biggest markets. In addition to that, I think that what happened to Mr. Gray obviously shouldn’t happen but what’s happening as a result of it is I think he will do more to change the minds about the perils that Black people face just living every day. There’s been a lot of action from the “Black Lives Matter” movement and I think we’ll see a shift from the public perspective that “Hey, maybe Black people are getting a raw deal and we’re crooks”. This thing has taken so many young lives and even when we look at what happened to James Blake he referenced “Black Lives Matter” which came as a result of Mr. Gray.
J.B.: Ray Rice, a former Baltimore Raven, is currently still a free agent after punching out his then fiancée. Do you think a team should pick him up after what happened? Do you think it would have already happened if he was White?
D.L.: I do, if George Bush can have attempted a DUI and then become President of the United States that means we have a capacity for forgiveness. I certainly don’t condone what he did, obviously I have daughters, I have a wife, I’ve been married 30 years and I’ve never put my hands on her, not that it’s noteworthy that’s just the way it should be. You have to consider Ray Rice was a running back; he was a running back at Rutgers then went on to become a running back with the Ravens. Ray Rice got hit in the head a bunch of times and now we’re learning so much about concussions so we know that can change a person. By all accounts he was never this way and all of a sudden he is. I’m asking what part did what he did for a living play in his attitude shift. So you can’t just look at Ray Rice and say he hit a woman, if this is not common to him and he did it then how much did his occupation and how much did getting hit in the head change the way he naturally processed it. As for the second part of the question, I don’t think he would be a running back if he was White. People always try to make those points like “well if Trayvon Martin was white”; if Trayvon Martin were White his name wouldn’t be Trayvon it just wouldn’t happen.
J.B.: In the past you have said Bill Cosby was “a humanitarian, a humanist and a rapist”, what are your thoughts today with more women coming forward and Damon Wayans referring to them as “unrapeable”?
D.L.: Funny thing is I thought Bill Cosby was a rapist before America did and all of this stuff came out. It’s not like new to me, but knowing something is always easier than saying it out loud. Bill Cosby and I had an argument in 2008 and I said that to him on the radio in New York. He said “this will never air” and I said “the hell it won’t” and he had his people come down and take that tape and it never did air. So I know how powerful he is and I know how he can shut up.
D.L. Hughley will be performing Sept. 19 at the Royal Farms Arena along with Cedric “The Entertainer”, Eddie Griffin, George Lopez and Charlie Murphy as part of “The Comedy Get Down” tour. Doors open at 8 p.m. and tickets are available through Ticketmaster. He also has a book called “Black Man, White House: An Oral History of the Obama Administration” due out next year.