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"Chocolate News": Comedy Central Gets Its Newest Breakout Vehicle
November 12, 2008  | By David Bianculli
 
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It hasn't taken long at all -- less than a month -- for David Alan Grier to turn his new Chocolate News comedy series into Must-See TV. Exhibit A: The day after Barack Obama was elected, Grier opened his program with an emphatic, unbleeped two-word phrase.

The first word was "Holy." The second word rhymed with "fit." And then he screamed with joy...

And while it was bleeped in reruns, that exclamatory, excretory phrase went out loud and clear at 10:30 p.m. ET on Wednesday, Nov. 5. Clearly, Chocolate News is not for the faint-hearted... or the easily offended.

Grier, who mastered the art of making studio audiences roar and gasp at the same time way back on In Living Color, has found his voice and his show here -- and Comedy Central has found a way to fill the vacuum left when Dave Chappelle walked away from the network.

Grier opens each show -- tonight at 10:30 ET will be a new installment -- addressing the TV audience, rather than the studio audience, directly, sounding off about the week's events as seen from a black perspective. When that week includes the first black President being elected, it's more than just a case of fortuitous timing. It's highly entertaining, highly relevant television.

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In addition to anchoring the show, Grier headlines most of the filmed skits presented as part of the weekly program. Last week, one skit had him playing a particularly feisty and clueless precinct vote worker -- a loud-mouthed, easily angered woman, while another had him playing a veteran jazz musician who, according to the sketch, once so angered bandleader Duke Ellington that Ellington made good on his threat to shove a trumpet up somewhere very painful.

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The payoff for that latter sketch was that the trumpeter in question learned to turn that unfortunate accident into a unique benefit -- the ability to play jazz duets with himself, by, uh, expelling air from both ends. The visuals were funny enough, but the soundtrack really drove it home. Also on the same show: A sketch in which representatives of various minorities competed, in a game-show format, to replace African-Americans as the most visible oppressed minority now that Obama was in the White House.

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And, as a capper, there was a report alleging that while 90 percent of black voters supported Obama, an even higher percentage of support came from the KKK, because they saw his presidency as the best possible recruitment tool. One of the signs of "support" carried by the white-hooded members? "Yes We Klan."

There's plenty to offend everyone, if you're easily offended. Otherwise, there are plenty of laughs -- from a sorely needed perspective.

 
 
 
 
 
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