Black News, Entertainment, Style and Culture - HuffPost Black Voices
iOS app Android app More
April 19, 2015

The Last American Slaves

Hulton Archive via Getty Images

How Not to Compliment a Black Girl

The next time you want to compliment a black girl, compliment her like you would compliment any other human -- because that's all she is. Human.

Man Carrying Knife And Bible Fatally Shot By St. Louis Police

Jon Belmar
Scott Olson via Getty Images

Capitol Hill Lawmakers Meet The 'Malala Of Africa'

Boko Haram
Dan Kitwood via Getty Images

Spike Lee's 'Chiraq' Film Title Draws Backlash From Local Officials

Spike Lee
ASSOCIATED PRESS

What People Are Really Saying When They Complain About 'Black Lives Matter' Protests

Black Lives Matter
ROBYN BECK via Getty Images

Obama Torches Republicans Over Loretta Lynch Delays: 'This Is Embarrassing'

Barack Obama
Mark Wilson via Getty Images

16-year-old Amandla Stenberg Schools Everyone On Cultural Appropriation

Amandla Stenberg
Alberto E. Rodriguez via Getty Images
Global Black Voices
 

Thousands Displaced After Deadly Anti-Immigrant Violence In South Africa

Durban
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Teachers More Likely To Label Black Students As Troublemakers

Dv1644056
Public domain

R&B Singer Johnny Kemp Dead At 55

Johnny Kemp
YouTube

Time's Most Influential List Includes Kanye, Kim K And Laverne Cox

Kanye Time 100
Time Magazine

Obama Wants Americans To Pay Slavery Reparations, Says Fox Host

Charles Payne
Fox Business Network

#BlackWorkMatters: 'It's A Fight For The Dignity Of Workers'

Fight 15
BYP100 Vimeo

Volunteer Deputy Who Killed Unarmed Black Man Speaks Out

Robert Bates
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Michael Jai White Writes A Letter Of Apology To His Ex-Girlfriends

Michael Jai White
Frederick M. Brown via Getty Images

Protesters Against Police Brutality Begin 9-Day March From NYC To DC

Justice League Staten Island
Twitter/Linda Sarsour
HuffPost Reports

Former NBA Player Explains In Detail How Millionaire Pros Go Broke

Youtube
YouTube

'I Literally Went Back to Zero': Woman Sacrificed Everything for This One Reason (VIDEO)

Milajamimfromdriftwood
I'm From Driftwood / YouTube

Racist Posts On NY Cop Blog Raise Ire At Time Of Tension

Nypd Car
Spencer Platt via Getty Images

Harry Reid Says He'll Force A Vote On Loretta Lynch If GOP Doesn't Act 'Very, Very Soon'

Harry Reid
Chip Somodevilla via Getty Images

The Awkward Black Girl Who Is Going To Change Television

Issa Rae
Issa Rae

FOLLOW HUFFPOST

    1. HuffPost
    2. Black Voices
    1. HuffPost
    2. Black Voices
    1. HuffPost
    2. Black Voices
    3. View all RSS feeds

Kendrick Lamar Just Revealed Who He Thinks The Best Rapper In The Game Is

Kendrick Lamar
Arthur Mola/Invision/AP

Amber Rose Reveals Why She's Not Interested In Joining 'Fashion Police'

Amber Rose
Jason Merritt via Getty Images

The New 'Bold & Beautiful' Face Of Transgenderism

Bold And Beautiful
Gilles Toucas/Bell-Phillip Television Productions

Kanye's Old Pal Says The Superstar Hasn't Changed Over The Years -- Almost

Rhymefest
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Undergoes Coronary Bypass Surgery

Kareem Abdul Jabbar
ASSOCIATED PRESS

People Are Calling This The Alley-Oop Of The Year

Alley Oop
Vine

You're Definitely Gonna Want To Swipe Right On This

Jamie
ABC

Manny Pacquiao Got A Punching Bag With Floyd Mayweather's Face On It

Punching Bag
Patrick O'Neal

Watch Jay Z's New Video For His Blue Ivy Song 'Glory'

Jay Z Glory
Tidal

Ludacris Performs 'Awkward' Gig At Tribeca Film Festival Opening

Ludacris
Jamie McCarthy via Getty Images

LeBron James Sarcastically Picks Kevin Love As NBA MVP

Kevin Love Lebron James
Mike Lawrie via Getty Images

What It Was Like To Watch The 'SNL' Doc With Its True Star

Leslie Jones
Robin Marchant via Getty Images

Laverne Cox, Jordana Brewster And More Go Nude For Allure

Laverne
Norman Jean Roy/Allure

WATCH: Tyson Beckford Treats Interviewer To Impromptu Lap Dance

Tyson Beckford
HuffPost Live

Crazy Eyes & Poussey Debate Vee's Fate In New 'OITNB' Season 3 Clip

Poussey
Netflix

Ready For More Ice-T And Coco On Your TV? It's Happening

Ice T
Ilya S. Savenok via Getty Images

Curtis Granderson: Shortage Of Black Baseball Players Is A 'Big Problem'

Curtis Granderson
Mitchell Layton via Getty Images

Ice Cube On N.W.A's 'Reality Rap' And 'Straight Outta Compton' Movie

Ice Cube
Jason Merritt via Getty Images

Black Films And Talent At The 2015 Tribeca Film Festival‏

Spike Lee
Tribeca Film Festival

The Spooky Experience Whoopi Goldberg Had While Working At A Funeral Home

Whoopi Goldberg On Master Class
OWN

Stephen Curry Hits 77 Threes In A Row At Practice

Twitter
Twitter

Tweet

strong>Jozen Cummings: Do you get a lot of people who come up to you and say, "Hey, you're the black guy on 'The Daily Show'"?
Wyatt Cenac: It's always a little weird for me, because when they hired me they said, "Oh, we're not hiring you to play that role. We just want you to be a correspondent, so you can do stories that don't necessarily have anything to do with race." So when people say I'm the black correspondent, there's a part of me that's like, 'Nah, I'm just a regular correspondent. Open your minds, people! This is Dr. King's dream! He talked about 'The Daily Show' -- how one day there would be black correspondents and Muslim correspondents and white correspondents, all living together.'

JC: Is there any obligation to be that "black voice" -- as with your 2009 'Daily Show' bit about rappers who have been affected by the recession with real-life rapper Slim Thug (see below)? What's the voice you try to have among the other correspondents?
WC: That is part of my voice -- that's the stuff I find interesting. I don't know if I feel any pressure to pitch that [sort of material] as much as it just reflects my sense of humor. The way I see things is through that prism. I think the mistake a lot of people make is that they put it through a race prism, when it's not about that at all. I grew up as a kid in Dallas, Texas, where my friends listened to a lot of hip-hop, and I listened to a lot of hip-hop. That's as much my generation as it is a racial thing.

The Daily Show - Slim Thug Feels the Recession
Tags: Daily Show Full Episodes,Political Humor & Satire Blog,The Daily Show on Facebook



JC: In your stand-up and in the things you write, are you conscious of when your work is being put through that race prism or do you try to present work that transcends race?
WC: It definitely crosses my mind, because my race is a part of who I am. In one sense, it's very easy to get mired in that. At the same time, the reality is if you look at me, you see a black person, so in that way race will always be there no matter what. It's like, "Oh it's the black correspondent." Well, no, I'm just a correspondent, but regardless of how I present it, people will always attach a racial element to it. But this is my story: A kid who's black, who grew up in Texas, who is of West Indian descent. There are very specific aspects of my experience that are not the "black experience" and to me, that's what transcendent is.

JC: Anything behind the straight-to-the-point title of your stand-up special, "Wyatt Cenac: Comedy Person"?
WC: Yeah, I'm not great at titles -- they tend to be the most basic thing I can think of. Also, in stand-up it's really easy to categorize people. I remember going to clubs in L.A. where there might be a woman comedian doing the show, and a lot of times the host would introduce her like this: "Who's ready for a lady?" And, you know, to put that qualifier there, there's something very strange about that. Also, at that time, if you wanted diversity at the club level, it was Monday nights at the Improv -- that was black night. At the Laugh Factory it was 'Chocolate Sunday' and 'Refried Fridays' and 'Stir Fried Thursdays.' So I think [my decision surrounding the title] might have played into that a little bit.

JC: So you understand race is always going to be a part of the way people describe you, but you hate when people use it to describe you?
WC: I'm just somebody doing comedy like the next person. If you think it's funny, great. That was the point. But putting a qualifier on it -- that this is a black person doing comedy or this is a lady doing comedy, that always used to skiv me out. For a while, when I would do a club, a lot of times I would have the host intro me with "Who's ready for a lady?" just to call out how stupid it was.

JC: But in the 1990's black comedians kind of embraced that whole black comedian/comedy thing. There was BET's 'Comic View' and 'Def Comedy Jam.' Do you see having those stages as an advantage?
WC: I think it's great that those platforms were there, but there's an aspect that seems like Hollywood either doesn't look at a show like 'Comic View' or if they just think, "They're over there, they're taken care of." I don't know what that mindset is, but it seems [they think] they don't need to worry about booking black comedians on 'The Tonight Show' or whatever bigger shows there might be, because [we're] taken care of. That's a question worth asking Hollywood at large.

JC: How did you avoid being put in that 'black comedy' category? You're more associated with 'The Daily Show' and your stand-up televised debut is on Comedy Central, not BET.
WC: Well, there's also the alternative [comedy] world, and I very quickly got put into that world. There aren't a lot of minorities who get put in that world. Me, Craig Robinson, W. Kamau Bell -- there are comedians who got placed on that track, and it's a weird thing, because I remember in L.A. there were black shows that were like The Big Black show and it was always a struggle for me to get into that world, because I'd already been put on this other track. And on this other track I'm at X level, but then if I wanted to do the 'Mo Betta' Mondays" at the Improv, it didn't matter what level I was at in the alternative world. I had to start from ground zero and earn their trust and pay dues in that world.

JC: What has being on 'The Daily Show' done for you personally and professionally?
WC: Well, the first thing it did was allow me to pay my rent [laughs]. I wasn't really doing that before I got the gig. Right before I got the job, I had to move out of my apartment because I couldn't pay for it and my car got repossessed. But beyond that, it's definitely helped me with opportunities to do stand-up around the country.

JC: What about opportunities from your role in 'Medicine For Melancholy,' in which you played the male lead in a story about two people who hang out the day after a one night stand?
WC: There are people who know me solely from that movie who have no idea I work for 'The Daily Show,' and there are people who know me from 'The Daily Show' who have no idea about that movie. It's been very interesting trying to bridge those worlds a little bit more.

JC: Is having both projects on your resume an advantage?
WC: Right now, I use it to my advantage to meet ladies [laughs].


JC: That's what most men would do.

WC: No, sadly it doesn't help me. It helps producers and writers on 'The Daily Show' -- they're able to get dates, but being on-air talent on 'The Daily Show' seems to have the opposite effect.

JC: What's your relationship like with Jon Stewart, host of 'The Daily Show'?
WC: Pretty professional. Our job is one where we're constantly on the move, working on the next thing and outside of work he's a father of two and he's hanging out with his kids. I've avoided hanging out with my children [Ed note: Cenac doesn't have children.] I don't acknowledge their existence [laughs]. Outside of work, we don't hang out that often because if we did he'd say, "Shouldn't you be more responsible with your kids?" And I'd be like, 'Shut up, old man! You don't know me!'

JC: Has there ever been a bit you had trouble selling the 'Daily Show' team?
WC: The Slim Thug thing actually, that was something I had to push. It was a world where I felt there were a lot of jokes, but I remember we pitched it a couple of times and there were three different producers that had been on it at some point. I think around the third time, there was more to the story but it was one of those things initially they thought, 'Do people really want to see something about rappers dealing with the recession?' But eventually, it got through.

JC: Tomorrow night, when your special airs and you're on television as a stand-up comedian for the first time ever, where are you watching the show? Party at Wyatt's?
WC: I think I'm going to crawl under my bed. I've watched it so many times because I've been editing of it and honestly, what I think I'm going to wind up doing is going to see Donald Glover, who is a very funny comedian, he's on the show 'Community,' and he's taping his special tomorrow night at the Music Hall of Williamsburg. I don't know if I could do a party. If I did a party, I'd just be sitting there watching people watching me and saying, "You didn't laugh as loud as I thought you should!"
Tagged as: BET, Comedy Central, Comic View, Craig Robinson, Def Comedy Jam, Donald Glover, Jon Stewart, Medicine For Melancholy, Slim Thug, The Daily Show, Wyatt Cenac
Email This

Comments: (8)

Add a comment

Page 1 of 1

Add a Comment

Please keep your comments relevant to this blog entry. Email addresses are never displayed but they are required to confirm your comments. When you enter your name and email address, you'll be sent a link to confirm your comment, and a password. To leave another comment, just use that password."

More on Black Voices

Follow Us

Most Commented Articles

Daily Drama

The Best Clips From TV's Hottest Shows


More Daily Drama >>

Bossip

feed

The Urban Daily

feed
Around the Web