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TV Review: ‘Chocolate News’

[IMG:L]No, it’s not a news show about the confectionery-turned-antioxidant wonder–although that might’ve proved more interesting. Rather, Comedy Central’s Chocolate News (premiering Oct. 15 at 10:30/9:30c) is, per host David Alan Grier’s monologue description, “The only source for pure uncircumcised realness from an Afrocentric perspective.”

I won’t touch most of that synopsis, but it’s safe to say that the “realness” claim is something of an exaggeration.

Chocolate News is essentially part fake-news show, a la The Daily Show, and part sketch-comedy show, a la Chappelle’s Show–to compare it to a couple of Comedy Central family members.

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However, that inevitable comparison renders Chocolate News somewhat inferior, because the writing isn’t on par with that of The Daily Show, and Grier, much like the rest of the world, doesn’t approach the charisma and sheer likability that Chappelle possessed as host/performer of his eponymous show.

But Chocolate is a decent addition to Comedy Central’s otherwise, um, vanilla lineup, and it has an occasional bright spot. The one that sticks out in the premiere episode is a sketch featuring Grier as Maya Angelou, to whom he bears quite a resemblance (in the sketch)! On the flipside, a sketch about a fake rapper named Phat Man unsurprisingly falls flat.

Grier, as always, is very hit-or-miss. He’s in full-blown In Living Color mode here, which is good…for a while. It does grow tiresome, and the same can be said about the longtime comedian’s tendency to become overly animated when delivering a punch line. It’s the same old story with Grier: great in small doses, grating in anything more. Unfortunately, a half-hour, once-a-week show isn’t quite a small enough dose.

All in all, Chocolate News brings with it an edgy concept (and even edgier title!) but only delivers part of the time. If you find yourself bored on a Wednesday night while waiting for The Daily Show come on, give it a shot; otherwise, it’s hardly must-see.

Grade: C

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