When Bill Maher was asked by Details magazine to name the best guest hes ever had on either of his shows, Real Time With Bill Maher or Politically Incorrect, it didnt take the provocateur long to name D.L. Hughley.
Ive had a myriad of guests, but D.L. is great, Maher answered. Hes smart, funny and prepared.
Thats why Hughleys live shows are so entertaining. The underrated comedian, who will perform Friday through Sunday at Goodnights, is engaging, humorous and, perhaps best of all, unpredictable.
You never know what type of unsparing political or social commentary Hughley will deliver when he hits the stage.
The eloquent Hughley loves to gets political, and he does just that with his first book, I Want You to Shut the (Bleep) Up: How the Audacity of Dopes Is Ruining America, which hit shelves last summer. In the book, Hughley, 50, offers funny and serious views of how American culture is circling the drain.
Were like Rome when it was falling, but with Twitter, Hughley said on the phone from Los Angeles. Were like children who dont want to hear anything negative, and our leaders are so distant and bellicose.
What makes Hughley so compelling is that he has such an original voice.
Im my own person, Hughley said. But I have to say I had more fun than I ever thought I would have with the book. It was not like stand-up is for me. Its not a natural thing for me. I never had so much fun being uncomfortable.
The charismatic entertainer has experience dealing with uncomfortable environments. Hughley grew up on the hardscrabble streets of south-central Los Angeles. He was part of the gang culture but somehow survived, worked as a sales rep at the Los Angeles Times while raising three young children, and made a name for himself as a stand-up comic and actor.
Hughley, who was one of the four comics featured in the Spike Lee film The Original Kings of Comedy, has routinely done the right thing.
He was the star of the long-running ABC/UPN sitcom The Hughleys and part of a pair of short-lived gems: co-starring in the Aaron Sorkin-penned NBC series Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip and later, hosting CNNs D.L. Hughley Breaks the News.
Im proud that all three of those projects were so different, Hughley said. You cant pigeonhole me.
Hughley has also been married to LaDonna Hughley for 27 years. You do what you have to do, he said. You do whats important.
Hughley backs that up by flying home to California to be with his wife and three grown children after his gigs.
I have to go back since when Im away, particularly on the East Coast, it drains my battery, Hughley said. I need to go back.
You never know what Hughley, who has hosted a New York radio show and fills in for Meredith Vieira as host of the syndicated game show Who Wants to Be A Millionaire, will do next.
I trust my swing, Hughley said. I trust it like a golfer. Im open.
I think Ive made some interesting choices. Im always up for a challenge.