Comic DL Hughley is clearly a funny guy. Smart too. Yet when he tries to put his talent in a a vehicle other than standup, it never quite comes together. Remember his wildly uneven CNN show, "DL Hughley Breaks the News"?
Which brings us to "DL Hughley: The Endangered List" (11 tonight, Comedy Central), his one-hour "social experiment" or satirical documentary about the comic's quest to get the black man on the endangered species list. Once again, there are moments of sharp observation, humor, even poignancy. But it, too, is more parts than the sum of those parts, a great idea that doesn't quite come together.
The show's a mix of standup, social commentary, skits and interviews. Hughley explains that he came up with the idea after hitting a golf ball into a marshy area; a groundskeeper explained its the habitat of the California tiger salamander and if he disrupts that habitat, Hughley would have to pay a $50,000 fine. From there Hughley gets the idea that black men need that kind of protection. He's told the criteria for making the Environmental Protection Agency's endangered species list and sets out to prove that black men meet them.
This is where the show goes awry. Although Hughley has some specific points to make connecting the black man to the criteria, he also has a lot of other things he wants to highlight. Which is why we go off track with a look at a gay couple that's adopted children and activist/numbskull Jesse Lee Peterson's objection to gay couples adopting because they are introducing the children to 'evil.' Don't get me wrong: if you've ever seen Peterson you (hopefully) know he deserves every bit of ridicule Hughley serves up, but the segment takes a lot of time to make a small point and takes us off the journey we're on. Hughley also calmly and humorously dispatches a non-violent neo-Nazi (who plays along nicely and helps skewer Tyler Perry), but I'm not sure that segment got us to where we needed to go either.
Better at hitting the mark are a fine segment on environmental racism, and another on the prison system. The show also includes a funny PSA featuring Raleigh homeboy Clay Aiken.
"DL Hughley: The Endangered List" did make me laugh at times. But if the storytelling was sharp and on point as Hughley's humor, I would have laughed more.