Comedians can tell you that you smell like ass, and they can be brutally honest in doing so, and you will smile and say, “Man they sure are funny!” I mean it is the one job where honesty is expected and can be tolerated. Often the words of a comedian will be used in philosophical discussions and no one will think that it is odd or awkward or wrong. Even when that comedian is not a high school graduate they can still be perceived as the smartest guy in the room. That’s just the way it is with comedy. We all can swallow the pill of racism, ignorance, violence, death, and every other “problem” when the words come from someone who is making us laugh. That says a lot about us. Americans don’t want to face up to the fact that we are no longer the nation that is leading. If someone of “importance” tells us that we need to get it together we basically tell that person to get off of the soapbox, or ‘stop preaching’. When comedians tells us we are a nation of fuck ups, we laugh and say, “Yeah, they’re right.”
D.L. Hughley, with co-author Michael Malice, has created a book that reads like a night of comedy at the Improv. What begins as an analysis of politics, gradually shifts into an analysis of race in America, parenting and ultimately the old stand by for a comedian, self reflection. In “I Want You To Shut the F#ck Up: How the audacity of dopes is ruining America” (an obvious play on the book by President Obama), D.L. does what he does best. He confronts the problems of society with a quick wit that translates just as good in the written form as it did on stage during the Kings of Comedy or in his multiple HBO shows. His take on the political landscape is somewhat predictable, but it’s his moments of insight into his life, much like he does when he’s on stage, that makes this book shine.
I dogeared several pages with the intent of writing the quotes here to share with you what I thought was important. As I started writing this review, I realized that I admired the ability of Hughley to grant me access to what has shaped him as a father, husband, comedian and an American. His stance on guns and what shaped his life and makes him, a self proclaimed Progressive, feel that guns are needed gives clarity to the contradictions that exist for African Americans. Blacks who vote overwhelmingly Democratic are very conservative people. More so than many of the Tea Party or Republicans who claim to be the type of “pull yourself up, by the left wing, homophobic” type of people. However, this conservative side of Blacks is rarely discussed or analyzed especially in regard to how Blacks come to terms with the things that face them in society. D. L. makes it clear that if anyone really took the time to look at why Blacks are how they are, they would see how absurd it is that Blacks are feared. They would also see why Blacks require more assistance. However Hughley stops short of saying that Blacks are needy. Does that make sense? Let me backtrack… When the book begins to look at parenting and how American society, particularly Democratic policies have hindered the responsibility of Black parents, he also makes it clear that the fear and ignorance promoted by the Republican party is the biggest problem with America. He takes to task both sides in analyzing Black America and then he takes Black America to task by devoting a complete chapter to the fact that if Black men would be fathers how much different Black life would be.
His solutions, while comedic in presentation, are real and honest and could help, but even he realizes that comedy ultimately accomplishes nothing. It is in these moments where you can sense his frustration and sense of hopelessness, but immediately he makes another statement that removes any thought that he is a nihilist. His conversation about his family, in particular his son who has Aspergers, shows that even those who are supposedly beyond help are not if they simply face the facts instead of pretending they don’t exist.
I really thought about writing a review with quotes and all of that stuff, but instead I will shut the fuck up and ask you to spend some time with D.L. and read this book. You won’t regret it at all.