When last we spoke to D.L. Hughley, one of the Original Kings of Comedy, he was a "finalist" for the host's chair on The Late Late Show. He told TVGuide.com then that if the CBS gig didn't work out, he planned to somehow be in late night. Turns out, his plans came through: Tonight his new talk show, Weekends at the D.L., premieres on Comedy Central (airing Friday through Sunday at 11 pm/ET). The comedian, whose sitcom The Hughleys aired from 1999-2002, is now an unscripted man. Weekends features comedy sketches, musical acts and guests, and, in a format somewhat akin to Politically Incorrect, the celebs du jour will engage in roundtable discussions. When we called Hughley at his Los Angeles production offices, his usual easygoing manner was evident. That is, until he was caught having an early lunch.
TVGuide.com: Congratulations on the new show. But obviously, it must have been a bit discouraging back in December when you didn't get The Late Late Show.
D.L. Hughley: Well, first off, I didn’t believe I would get the job. We [Hughley and David Letterman's production company] are just different kinds of people. But I really do respect the medium of late-night talk. It’s what I’ve always wanted to do.
TVGuide.com: You had another talk show in 1990. What have you learned about being a good host since then?
Hughley: I’ve learned a ton. I’ve learned that the more experiences that you have and the more varied those experiences are, the more apt you are to be able to connect with an audience. But you gotta know yourself comedically, and I just didn’t in 1990.
TVGuide.com: What type of comedy segments will Weekends have?
Hughley: One of the first things we’re going to do is... Hang on one second. [Answers cell phone] "Hey, honey... OK, baby... I'm doing the interview. I'll see you when you get here... All right. Love you... I’m eating a salad, but it’s just a salad... Yes. Love you." [To TVGuide.com] That was my wife.
TVGuide.com: She asked what you were eating?
Hughley: [Slight pause] Yes. My wife was supposed to be here, like, an hour ago and told me not to eat. But I’ve been starving since this morning so I had to sneak a salad.
TVGuide.com: I thought maybe she was saying, “You’ve got to eat healthy, D.L.!”
Hughley: No, [it was more like] “Listen, dammit, you better not be eating.” [Laughs]
TVGuide.com: Now you were saying about comedy bits...?
Hughley: We have a lot of pieces that we’re very excited about. So many CEOs are going to jail, but they don’t really know how to act in prison. So we’re making a prison film to help them acclimate — a "Do and Don’t Do If You’re a CEO in the Penitentiary." And we did a bit where Comedy Central made me take a psychological evaluation before I started the show because ever since [Dave] Chappelle [postponed production of his show], they’re more selective when they hire the brothers. [Laughs]
TVGuide.com: Do you know Dave Chappelle?
Hughley: Absolutely. But [the bit] isn’t a knock on him. It was a stab at the nervousness of the network. I think it’s the funniest thing when you joke with your boss.
TVGuide.com: You and Chappelle have both been around for a while. Do the comparisons get a little frustrating?
Hughley: Not to me. You get your shot when you get your shot and you make the most of it. He's done a good job, and I'll do a good job.
TVGuide.com: Why the Politically Incorrect-esque roundtable format?
Hughley: I've watched too many times where you have one guest on and the energy is always kind of the same. You can’t tell whether you’re watching them on Jay or Conan... Generally celebrities have a film or a book [to plug], and it always looks like they’re never happy to be here. We want a throwback to the old shows where people did late night television because they wanted to be on the show with the host. We want people to have fun, come in and drink wine and talk about what they wanna talk about.
TVGuide.com: Will you really be drinking wine on the show?
Hughley: Absolutely! We will be drinking wine.
TVGuide.com: You still do a lot of touring. Do you ever get sick of the grind?
Hughley: I never get sick of performing my material. I get sick of my own voice sometimes. I don’t like to talk a lot. People are like, “How are you a comic and you don’t like to talk?” But sometimes, literally, the sound of my own voice drives me crazy. Even when I’m just reading something, I’ll try to have another voice. Like the one I use all the time is James Earl Jones.
TVGuide.com: You should really look into that, D.L.
D.L: Actually, I wanna be James Earl Jones. [Laughs]
TVGuide.com: A solid goal. Before you go, what kind of salad is it that you're not supposed to be eating right now?
Hughley: It’s chicken. [Laughs] Chicken Caesar.
TVGuide.com: Um, you know that’s practically a full meal...
Hughley: I only ate the lettuce! And chicken for spice....Well, now I feel like I’m really explaining myself. "I only ate the lettuce!"