Despite his caustic humor in the spotlight, off stage D.L. Hughley is ...
For a guy who makes his money as a stand-up and, of late, as a talk show host on Comedy Central, D.L. Hughley is surprisingly quiet and introspective; listening intently to the questions asked of him over the phone while winding up a chat with friends in San Francisco, where he is headlining a show in nearby Fairfield. (The popular comic makes his island debut Saturday night.)
Place: Blaisdell Concert Hall
Time: 7:30 p.m. Saturday
Tickets: $35 and $45
Call: 1-877-750-4400 or online at www.ticketmaster.com
None of his usually caustic humor is evident. Instead, Hughley offers mostly sunny, almost Mary Poppins-ish takes on his experiences in showbiz and his personal life. He is so enthusiastic he could be his own PR agent. But Hughley is really just that easygoing away from the spotlight, despite his sharp-tongued public persona.
"I am who I am. A lot of it is left up to interpretation," said Hughley. "I'm a different person than the person doing the talk show. I'm just a curious cat who likes seeing the irony in a situation."
Hughley is personable, a sharp observer with an easy affability, despite his admittance of fear of crowds and his preference for hanging back and people-watching -- especially those who make fools of themselves, which is nearly everyone to him. While his show may focus on the topical, today he'd rather lightly riff on the differences between his own life growing up in inner Los Angeles versus his children's day-to-day life in SoCal.
"They have tutors, their own rooms. I'm 40 years old and I still don't have my own room. I have to share with my wife."
Perhaps he is shying away from his more pointed observations that's prevalent in his act. Hughley has said somewhat tongue-in-cheek in an interview with Newsweek that he was surprised when offered the role of talk show host, considering David Chappelle's troubles in coming up with a new season's worth of shows for Comedy Central.
"Dave Chappelle and I aren't really alike in our comedy, but we're both black men who tell jokes, so the comparisons are unavoidable. I can't lie and say the network isn't gun-shy after that incident with Dave, so I just thought I'd deal with it from jump street. No disrespect to Dave, but there's no sweeping it under the rug."
Hughley began his entertainment career in small comedy clubs, and made one of his first televised appearances on Black Entertainment Television, serving as the host of "Comic View." "A lot of us wouldn't have had the opportunity if it weren't for this show," he said.
But he really came on the public radar, alongside Steve Harvey, Cedric the Entertainer and Bernie Mac on the 1999 "Kings of Comedy" tour, later documented In Spike Lee's critically-acclaimed "The Original Kings of Comedy." The tour grossed more than 37 million dollars and sold out in many of the 50 cities it played in.
"It was just four cats on top of their game," said Hughley. "We were flying on private jets and had our own dressing rooms ... (But my career) started off as a small series of little things, mis-happenings, rather than breaks. This cat used to cut my hair, and he would say, "you think you're so funny, why haven't I seen you (anywhere)?' "
"Weekends at the D.L.," which just wrapped its first season last week, airs at 9 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays on Comedy Central.