SportsChump Whirlwind Comedy Tour, Part Three: D.L. Hughley

Date: Sunday, November 5, 2023

Time: 9:15 pm                                  

Venue: Improv, Ybor City, Florida

Our morning began early Sunday, an otherwise beautiful day in the sunshine state.  With an ailing father in hospice care, our search for laughter continued, like an injection we could not get enough of.  Determined as ever to distract ourselves with laughter, D.L. Hughley became the third big-time professional comedian to hit our town in less than a month.  The plan would not be deviated from.  Hughley was next on our hit list.

Most of us became familiar with Hughley’s material when we first saw him hit the stage on the big screen, in Spike Lee’s hysterically engaging “The Original Kings of Comedy.” Lee’s film featured four of the funniest men in America doing their thing, bringing them into the mainstream.  Hosted by Steve Harvey, the film showed most of America Hughley, Cedric the Entertainer and Bernie Mac for the very first time.  To this day, the movie remains outrageous with viewers continuing to debate which one of these four men is the funniest.  (Hint: it’s Bernie Mac)

I’d never seen Hughley perform live so when his tour bus hit Tampa Bay, I made sure not to miss it.  After all, BCole and I had a purposeful comedy tour to preserve.  After only one opener, Hughley took to the Improv stage, goatee longer and grayer than we’d grown accustomed to seeing.  His face more wrinkled, Hughley is now a veteran of the comedy tour.  He has been at this a long time and remains just as funny as ever.  This man was clearly born to make people laugh.

Joke after rapid-fire joke, Hughley induced the crowd into a state of constant laughter, like a wall of noise.  In fact, dare I say, Hughley’s act had more condensed laughter than the previous shows we’d seen.

That Sunday evening, we saw the fourth and final of Hughley’s sets.  He’d completed two on Saturday night and had two more on Sunday.  The good thing about seeing the last show of a four-set comedy tour, especially with a comedian like Hughley, is that by the time he gets around to his sayonara, the comedian might be tipsy, which D.L. was, and simply not give a care, while still drilling home joke and joke. 

Hughley hit the stage in a beige jump suit, martini in hand, delivery relaxed and downright cutthroat.  That final act, closing his Tampa show and likely tired from the three before it, did not stop him from being on stage for nearly 90 minutes.  After dropping bomb after hilarious bomb, like Chappelle and Clay in the shows we saw that preceded him, Hughley did crowd work with almost the entire front rows proving that, rehearsed or not, Hughley could still kill no matter the topic. 

I can pretty much guarantee you when you see D.L. Hughley live, which I highly recommend you do, you will have more compressed laughter in a sixty-to-ninety-minute period that you will have ever experienced.  Unlikely touring major venues now is a perfect time to catch a master at his craft at an intimate location up close and personal.

Like most classic comedians, Hughley can take a difficult subject and turn on its head.  He openly discussed a family member’s bout with cancer, doing his best to make light of the dreaded disease and its impact on us all.  At one heated point in the show, one patron stood up and walked out, not taking kindly to Hughley’s humor on the topic, both traded barbs on the way out.  I’ll give you one guess who won.  What this heckler failed to realize is that this is what comedians do.  What they also failed to realize is that Hughley has been highly proactive in the African American community, doing his part in trying to determine why certain cancers disproportionately affect certain groups.  Cancer is no laughing matter but if Hughley’s performance art can help fight a cause, and his jokes and storytelling are the way he does that, then more power to the man and those he helps.  Unbeknownst to many (I had to look it up), Hughley has personally generated millions to bring awareness.

Hughley didn’t counter the heckler’s comments with the work he’s done in furthering cancer research.  He didn’t need to.  He knows his role and is perfectly comfortable in it.  He hails from a family that been impacted by the disease and knows he’s doing his part.  This lone blip failed to ruin the evening.  On the contrary, it bonded the room even more as Hughley admitted that without his ability to make light of these issues, he wasn’t sure how he’d cope with how cancer had affected his family and so many others close to him.  BCole and I could relate and appreciate.

The master comedian left the stage to a rousing round of applause.  Getting home after the show, not getting enough of a Hughley fix even after watching him do over an hour-long set, I cued up the Original Kings of Comedy to find that his style hadn’t changed much since the film’s release some 25 years ago. 

Hughley is a comedian still curious about engaging with others, perfecting his craft, and using his platform for a cause.  Simply put, D.L. Hughley remains relentlessly funny and is one of the best comedians in America today.  Do yourself the favor of seeing him if you get the chance.

See: SportsChump Whirlwind Comedy Tour, Part One: Andrew Dice Clay

See: SportsChump Whirlwind Comedy Tour, Part Two: Dave Chappelle

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4 Replies to “SportsChump Whirlwind Comedy Tour, Part Three: D.L. Hughley”

  1. His delivery was amazingly smooth and it felt almost like one of the most amazing conversations rather than a comedy performance. He was phenomenal and I too highly recommend anyone seeing him.

  2. I agree with you about Bernie , he was great.
    D.L. has an edge that I can appreciate.
    Keep smiling brother !

  3. Deac…

    It was good to see Hughley still out there slaying rooms. I wasn’t exaggerating one bit about the non-stop laughs. Great show. Highly recommended.

    And damn was Bernie Mac funny as hell.

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