Three days after TVNewser was in the CNN Election Center studio on Election Night, we were back in a drastically changed environment. Gone were the BPTOT, in was a studio audience. Temporary walls blocked off the studio from the rest of the newsroom. And the man at the helm was not anchor Wolf Blitzer but an Original King of Comedy.
D.L. Hughley Breaks the News is CNN’s newest, and most unique, programming. The 10pmET show airs Saturday and Sunday, and moves between serious interviews and lighter ones, comedy sketches and more serious monologues by Hughley.
During Friday’s taping, the usual exit poll location for Soledad O’Brien and Bill Schneider was replaced with a green screen and an actor dressed as George Washington for a fake hologram segment. Interviews ranged from a group of Kenyan comedians, to actor/comedian Tim Reid to Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. Within the interviews there were serious and comedy elements — amid Jackson, Jr.’s answer about how he’d be “honored” to named Pres.-Elect Barack Obama’s replacement for U.S. Senate, he joked, “I’m willing to bet I’m one of the few United States Senators, if appointed, to ever be willing to even do your show!”
The show is taped in segments, which leads to a portion of downtime. Comedian Corwin Moore warms up the crowd between blocks. “It’s bizarre, but its fun and exciting,” he says of working on the CNN show. “It’s not one thing for me. I’m just amazed to see his face on the monitor.”
Hughley, who called Tuesday’s election “the most emotional thing I’ve ever been a part of,” is relishing the opportunity. “I enjoy it a lot. As long as people are watching we’re going to keep doing it,” he said.
And people are. The show regularly gets more than 600,000 viewers in the A25-54 demo and 1.4 million Total Viewers, putting it in competition on a nightly basis as the top prime time weekend program.
“For an organization not build to do a comedy show, CNN has been fantastic,” says the show’s EP, Mitch Semel.
It does have its critics as well, with some saying it “reinforces black stereotypes.” Semel says it’s not for everyone. “Good comedy doesn’t do that,” he said. “It’s very much like him doing his act on stage. Just remember, it’s a comedy show.”
(pictured top right: comedian/actor Donnell Rawlings (who appears on the show), Hughley and stage manager Bruce)
Click continued to see the interview with Jackson, Jr. from last weekend’s show…
Embedded video from CNN Video