Black News, Entertainment, Style and Culture - HuffPost Black Voices
iOS app Android app More
December 19, 2014

Donations Pour Into Ferguson Church Destroyed In Protests

Flood Christian Church
Scott Olson via Getty Images

Percent Of Americans Who View Racism As Top Problem Skyrockets

Ferguson Protests
Scott Olson via Getty Images

Lawyers Stage 'Die-Ins' To Call Out Broken Legal System

Lawyer Die In Los Angeles
ROBYN BECK via Getty Images

What Happens When We Send Minors To Adult Prisons

Black Jail
Dietmar Klement via Getty Images

Al Sharpton Calls For Action Against Sony Executive

Al Sharpton
Raymond Hall via Getty Images

Michael Brown's Father: 'I'm Real Tired Of Our Kids Getting Misused And Abused'

Michael Brown
Michael McLaughlin/The Huffington Post
HuffPost Reports

Scott Walker Ready To Call In National Guard To Respond To Dontre Hamilton Protests

Scott Walker
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Obama Talks About His Own Experience With Racial Profiling

Barack And Michelle Obama
Kevin Mazur via Getty Images

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz Takes Powerful Step To Discuss Race With Employees

Starbucks
Zhang Peng via Getty Images

14-Year-Old Wrongly Convicted Of Murder Exonerated 70 Years Later

George Stinney
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Key Witness In Michael Brown Case May Not Have Actually Seen Him Die, Report Says

Darren Wilson
AP

Family Of North Carolina Teen Says He Was 'Lynched'

Lennon Lacy
The Washington Post via Getty Images

The Passing of Natural Hair Pioneer Titi Branch

Titi Branch
Getty

America's Oldest Black College Could Face Financial Collapse

College
Creatas Images via Getty Images

Jon Stewart Hits Back After Hannity Calls Jay Z A 'Crack Dealer'

Jon Stewart
Comedy Central

UPenn Fraternity Suspended For Using Beyonce Blow Up Doll In Photo

Blowupdoll
Phi Delta Theta

Obama Applauds LeBron James For Wearing 'I Can't Breathe' T-Shirt

Lebron James Obama
Mark Wilson via Getty Images

How Giving Cameras To Formerly Homeless Detroiters Also Gave Them A Voice

Lucretia Portrait
HuffPost

49ers Player 'Terminated' Amid Sexual Assault Investigation

Ray Mcdonald
Thearon W. Henderson via Getty Images

Cop Designs 'Breathe Easy, Don't Break The Law' T-Shirts

Breathe
Facebook: South Bend Uniform Co.

Hillary Clinton: 'Black Lives Matter'

Hillary Clinton
Kevin Mazur via Getty Images

An Open Letter to Penn's Phi Delta Theta Fraternity for Their 'Beyonce' Blow-Up Doll Holiday Card

Racism
chris2766 via Getty Images

U.S. Wealth Gap Hits Record High

Pew Research Center
Pew Research Center

Protester: We Can't Be Silent When Women Are Shot By Police

Aura Rosser
Aura Rosser

NFL Player Emotionally Explains Why He Won't Apologize For Protest

Andrew Hawkins
Joe Robbins via Getty Images

Group Slams Bill Cosby For Comment About 'Black Media' Coverage Of Rape Allegations

Bill Cosby
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Race In Film: 'Criminality From People Of Color Is Viewed As Inherent'

Breakfast At Tiffany
Paramount Pictures

John Crawford III's Family Sues

John Crawford Iii
ASSOCIATED PRESS

9 Absurd Justifications For Police Killings Of Unarmed Black Males

Protests
AP

How School Suspensions Disproportionately Target Black Girls

Black Teens In Class
Weston Colton via Getty Images

Bill Cosby's Daughter Addresses Sexual Assault Allegations

Bill Cosby Daughter
Bryan Bedder via Getty Images

When White People See Themselves With Black Skin, Something Interesting Happens

African American Face
JGI/Jamie Grill via Getty Images

Teen Boy Fatally Shot While Defending Twin Brother During Robbery

Demario Bailey Shot
Photo provided

Cleveland Police Union Refuses To Back Down From Criticism Of NFL Player For Tamir Rice Shirt

Andrew Hawkins
Diamond Images via Getty Images

Artist Collective Takes Responsibility For UC Berkeley Lynching Effigies

Noose
Jan Stromme via Getty Images

Student Allegedly Pulled Over For Playing 'F--k The Police'

Fuck The Police
YouTube: New Yenc

Artists Explore The Many Influences Of Ebony And Jet Magazines

Jet

Protesters Chain Themselves To Oakland Police Headquarters

Oakland Police Flag
bjay707 / Instagram

This Is What It Looks Like When New York City Erupts With Cries For Justice

Millions March Nyc
Emily Kassie

Bill Cosby Says He Expects 'Black Media' To Remain 'Neutral'

Bill Cosby
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Police Nationwide Alter Tactics, Bolster Arsenal After Protests, Killings

Protests Police
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Black Churches Pray In Protest Of Police Brutality

Black Church
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Half of Black College Students Graduate $25,000 in Debt

Tamir Rice's Mom: I'm Looking For A 'Change For The Nation'

Tamir Rice

VIDEO
John Crawford's Girlfriend Aggressively Questioned After Fatal Shooting

Joe Crawford Iii
H/O

'It Doesn't Matter Where You're At -- People Have Guns Everywhere'

Newtown Anniversary
Twitter: VPCGLA

Shakeup In Haiti

Lamothe
HECTOR RETAMAL via Getty Images

NBA Veteran Graduates From College, Nine Pro Seasons Later

Jarrett Jack Nets
Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Pamela Wright's Son Was Shot Dead A Month After Newtown. This Is Her Story.

Pamela Wright
Everytown For Gun Safety

The Ezell Ford Autopsy Report Casts Another Glare on the Autopsy Debate

Ezell Ford
Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Michel Du Cille's Stories Live On

Michel Du Cille
The Washington Post via Getty Images

Mississippi Women Plead Guilty To Hate Crimes

James Craig Anderson
Facebook

In Wake Of Troubling VA Report, Group Promises Nearly 2,000 Homes For Homeless Vets

Homeless Veteran
Bloomberg via Getty Images

After Honoring Eric Garner, LeBron's Voice Could Have Been Louder

Lebron James
AP Photo/Frank Franklin II

Police Arrest Suspect In Shooting Death Of Auburn Player

Jakell Mitchell Suspect
AP

Thousands March On NYPD Headquarters To Protest Police Killings

Washington Square
raphaelangenscheidt/Instagram

These Powerful Signs Illustrate The True Diversity Of The #BlackLivesMatter Movement

Millions March
Sebastian Murdock

Interfaith Efforts Work For Reconciliation In The Central African Republic

Central African Republic
ASSOCIATED PRESS

45 Arrested After Protests In Oakland

Oakland Protests
Elijah Nouvelage via Getty Images

WATCH
Grieving Mothers: My Son Would Still Be Alive If He Were White

Eric Garner
CNN

16 Quotes To Remind America That Black Lives Matter

What Happened When Two Students, One Black and One White, Participated in a Peaceful Protest

Alex Q Arbuckle
Alex Q. Arbuckle

Do You Think Bill Cosby's Rape Allegations Are a Conspiracy?

Sexual Assault
Daniel Korzeniewski via Getty Images

FBI Investigating Hanging Death Of Black Teen

Swingset
Stephen Mallon via Getty Images

'My Name Is Michael Sam, And I Am Unbroken'

Michael Sam Unbroken Video
YouTube

Maine High School Displays Poster Protesting Grand Jury Decisions

Lewiston High School
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Tamir Rice Death Declared Homicide In Newly Released Autopsy

Tamir Rice
Justice For Tamir Rice

Michel Du Cille, Pulitzer Prize-Winning Photographer, Dies At 58

Michel Du Cille
The Washington Post via Getty Images

Undercover Cop Points Gun At California Protesters

Oakland Protesters
Elijah Nouvelage via Getty Images

John Crawford's Family To Join March In Washington

Joe Crawford Iii
H/O

FOLLOW HUFFPOST

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

Beyoncé & Jay Z Do Not Cameo In 'The Interview'

Beyonce Jay Z
ASSOCIATED PRESS

12 Gifts For Dad, The Most Impossible Person On Your Shopping List

Pizza Cone
Amazon

There's No One Reason To Dance. In Fact, Here Are 39 Of Them

Whyidance

The Incredible Christmas Oprah Will Never Forget

Own Oprah Where Are They Now Christmas Kindness
OWN

Jill Scott Set To Receive Major Honor

Jill Scott
Earl Gibson/BET via Getty Images

23 Beyoncé-Inspired Gifts To Make Your Home Look Flawless This Season

Flawless
AManicMonday/Etsy

'Shmoney Dance' Rapper Arrested

Bobby Shmurda
Mike Pont via Getty Images

Vivica Brings Hollywood Glam To The 'World's Leading Luxury Island Destination'

Vivica A Fox
Courtesy of The Britto Agency

The Impact Of 'Black Messiah' on R&B

Dangelo
Mark Metcalfe via Getty Images

NeNe Says No Atlanta Housewives Have Seen 'Cinderella': ‘The Hate Is Real'

Nene Leakes
HuffPost Live

Kendrick Lamar Debuts New Song On 'The Colbert Report'

Kendrick Lamar
NBC via Getty Images

Obama Names His Favorite Movie Of The Year

Obama Smiling
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Analyzing J. Cole's '2014 Forest Hills Drive' And His Place In Hip Hop

J Cole
Leon Bennett via Getty Images

Chris Brown's Bodyguard Sentenced For Assault

Chris Brown Bodyguard
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Model Says Bill Cosby Drugged Her And Licked Her Toes In 2008

Bill Cosby
ASSOCIATED PRESS

45 Fashion Gift Ideas Under $100

Fashion Gift Ideas
Boy Meets Girl/Misguided/Charm&Chain

'Selma' Star David Oyelowo: 'Eric Garner Became An American Problem'

David Oyelowo
Evan Agostini/Invision/AP

Watch Mashup Of Darlene Love Singing The Best Christmas Song

Darlene Love Letterman
CBS Photo Archive via Getty Images

Oprah And Jimmy Fallon Could Almost Make You Not Hate Auto-Tune

Fallon
NBC

Black Captain America Leading Comic Book Diversity

Isaiah Bradley
Marvel

Bill Cosby's Wife Breaks Silence On Sexual Assault Allegations

Camille Cosby
Bryan Bedder via Getty Images

Titi Branch, Miss Jessie's Co-Founder, Dead At 45

Titi Branch
Getty

Angela Davis Explains How The 'Prison Industrial Complex' Profits From Black People

Angela Davis
Keystone-France via Getty Images

PHOTO: 'Selma' New York Premiere And Afterparty

Selma After Party
Dave Allocca/Starpix

'Selma' Director Ava DuVernay Slams Racist Sony Emails As 'Sad'

Ava Duvernay
Jim Spellman via Getty Images

Oprah On Protests: 'Y'all Are Not The First To Do It '

Oprah Winfrey
Evan Agostini/Invision/AP

9 Reasons Why No One Compares To Figure Skater Surya Bonaly

Surya Bonaly
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Naomi And Jourdan Land Major Campaign

Burberry Campaign
© Copyright Burberry/Testino

Listen To D'Angelo's First Album In 14 Years

Dangelo Singer
Paul Natkin via Getty Images

This Roller Skating Man Just Elevated The Ring Bearer Game

Wedding Entrance
Steve Conway Photography/Instagram

BrotherSpeak: Exploring The Lives Of Black Men

Black Man Mouth
BananaStock via Getty Images

The Lack Of Black Emoji Has Sasheer Texting Some Strange Things

Sasheer Snl
NBC

'Selma' Cast Wears 'I Can't Breathe' Shirts At Premiere

I Cant Breathe
Ray Tamarra via Getty Images

The 22 Best Movies Of 2014

Best Movies 2014
Paramount/Sony/IFC/Fox/Disney

Mayweather Says He Wants To Fight Pacquiao, Finally

Mayweather Pacquiao
AFP via Getty Images

VIDEO
Raven-Symone Gives Mentor Debbie Allen A Heartfelt Surprise

Raven Symone Debbie Allen
AOL Originals

Dave Chappelle Says He Was Once Choked By The Police

Dave Chappelle
Dan Steinberg/Invision/AP

WATCH
Beverly Johnson Describes Being Drugged By Bill Cosby

Beverly Johnson
HuffPost Live

Beyoncé Releases Powerful Short Film About Fame

Beyonce
Beyonce

Little Girl Takes Mic From Reporter, Delivers A Spot-On Broadcast At Target

Little Girl Target
My Fox Houston

Nicki Minaj Goes Full Dominatrix In New 'Only' Video

Nicki Minaj
Vevo/YouTube

Terry Crews Is Definitely One Of Our Favourite Feminists

Terry Crews
Allen Berezovsky via Getty Images

Beyonce Braves The Cold In Leggy Dress

Beyonce
Monica Schipper via Getty Images

Kevin Hart Responds To Slam In Sony Email Leak

Kevin Hart
Star Shooter/MediaPunch/IPx

Foreclosure?

Jermaine Dupri
Marc Serota/Invision/AP

Daddy-Daughter Duo Bust Serious Moves In Adorable Old School Dance Battle

Father Daughter Dance Battle

Watch Shaquille O'Neal Use An Easy-Bake Oven Like An All-Star

Shaq Easy Bake Oven
The Watercooler

Hip-Hop Moguls Urge NY Governor To Reform Justice System

Jay Z Gov Cuomo
Daniel Barry / Office of the Governor

Dr. Dre Is The Highest-Paid Musician of 2014

Dr Dre
Mike Coppola via Getty Images

'Scandal' Star Reveals Drug Abuse

Columbus Short Scandal
Eric McCandless via Getty Images

Watch Shonda Rhimes' Totally Empowering Women In Entertainment Speech

Shonda Rhimes
Invision for The Hollywood Reporter

The One Role Queen Latifah Has A Desire To Fulfill

Queen Latifah
C Flanigan via Getty Images

Kendrick Lamar Teams Up With Reebok

Kendrick Lamar Reebok
Reebok

Police Ask To Interview Floyd Mayweather For Murder Suicide Case

Floyd Mayweather
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Netflix To Produce Nina Simone Documentary

Nina Simone
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Gugu's Breakthrough Win!

Gugu Mbatharaw
Tristan Fewings via Getty Images

Wyatt Cenac on Being Alternatively Black and Funny

Comments (8)

Wyatt Cenac, Comedy Central, Wyatt Cenac: Comedy Person, The Daily Show

Comedian Wyatt Cenac is black. People who watch him on 'The Daily Show' know this. Those who have seen him in the movie 'Medicine For Melancholy' know this. And anyone who tunes in to watch his one-hour stand-up special 'Wyatt Cenac: Comedy Person' on Comedy Central tonight at 11 p.m. EST will certainly notice as well. But when he presents his work, whether as a stand-up or an on-air correspondent, Cenac tries to be simultaneously conscious and transcendent about race.

We talked with him about his views on the segregated world of stand-up comedy, 'The Daily Show' sketch that almost didn't air, and why he won't watch his stand-up special with friends.<
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.



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!"

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."