Though it’s not “Chappelle’s Show”, the new Comedy Central sketch effort “Chocolate News” from veteran sketch comic David Alan Grier (of “In Living Color”), fills a void in African American voices on the channel.
Though the title would lead you to think its an African-American version of “The Daily Show”, there’s no comedy drawn from interviews with real figures. It’s merely gives a framing sequence, creating an Afro-centric 20/20 upon which to hang the sketches. It’s a good conceit - allowing the show to go anyplace but have a conceive whole.
The first episode I saw had some great moments and a couple that just didn’t play more than their first appearances. It’s uneven. Take this Phat Man sketch (which plays a little off an opening monologue by DAG about how rap has lost its social conscience). Though it’s kind of a cheap set-up, the execution is great.
Then there’s a second turn, when they do the same song in front of a class of kids. The reaction from the kids, plus the lessons they draw, add more laughs. But the next turn, a version of the same song as performed for another PSA on suicide doesn’t add anything news. But that’s kind of the point. The sketch is about how hiphop has degenerated into a sex and money obsession. It’s a hard sketch to make work because the joke is about making a turn. So it works, but just don’t all the way.
My favorite part of Chocolate News’ first episode was Grier’s spot on impersonation of Maya Angelou. There’s an extra laugh each time he settles into Maya Angelou’s smile after a line. Another highlight is the fate of “Chocolate News” only white reporter.
Chocolate News premieres tonight at 10:30 PM on Comedy Central after South Park.