TV Review: Chocolate News



Before diving into this review, an admission: I'm in love with David Alan Grier. I think he might be the funniest dude living in the world right now. And this naturally shades my assessment of Grier's new sketch-comedy magazine series "Chocolate News," a spoof of more sociologically redeeming fare that delivers with irreverent muscle and courage.

The Comedy Central entry might be TV's first black-supremacist parody, given its unapologetic, jaundiced agenda to present the news solely from the perspective of the urban (read: African-American) experience in America, on the eve of what might be the election of the nation's first president of color. Given that Grier is at the controls as the self-deprecating host, lead performer and writer, the mockery is pushed forth with boldness and inspiration, in equal measure.

Grier has been around for some time, perhaps most prominently as a member of the troupe on "In Living Color," but it's tough to think of a format better suited to the 53-year-old's considerable talent than this. He gets to play a multitude of comedic roles during each half-hour, under the same banner: acerbic, overbearing host, deadpan correspondent and a plethora of sketch characters within the satiric investigative reports.

The first two segments are rife with hilarious moments (along with the inevitable flops). One studies how skyrocketing gas prices and the tanking economy have forced drug dealers to cut corners, including practicing "bicycle-by shootings." There also is a knee-slapping, envelope-pushing summit conference about "The N-Word" and a report on poet Maya Angelou during which Grier goes in drag to portray Angelou's deliriously over-the-top ode to Sen. Barack Obama.

What makes "Chocolate News" particularly tasty is its impeccable timing. Grier and his fellow producers, including Robert Morton and former WB programming chief Jordan Levin, could not have launched at a more fortuitous time, socially and politically. But the beauty of that is the fact its star and guiding creative force imparts his racial points with such pomposity-smashing irreverence. We get the feeling Grier is much more concerned with scoring a laugh than raising an issue, which makes his well-placed jabs all the more clever.