A Hater’s Valentine to The Real Husbands of Hollywood

Today is Valentine’s Day and I am currently feeling very amorous feelings.  Mainly because the Wednesday crowd at Helium bought over $100 of CDs and “Live Angry” wrist bands last night.  So headed into a big weekend at Helium positive vibes are flowing from my usually cynical and negative pen.  If you need to hear me trash Valentine’s Day then feel free to check out this week’s Righteous Prick Podcast on iTunes or Podomatic.  But since I spend so much time trashing so much of the comedy business (rightfully and righteously so) I thought why not take a break to praise something (besides myself) in comedy that took me completely by surprise: The Real Husbands of Hollywood.

The show, on BET (not Bearded Entertainment Television – that is Comedy Central) stars Kevin Hart, the super successful comedian from Philadelphia who is having a monster last couple of years.  Full disclaimer, I don’t really enjoy Hart’s comedy.  I think it is heavy on friendly persona and tag lines and short on everything else (at 5’2″, dark, rich and friendly Kevin Hart will never be mistaken for me).  But who gives a sh*t – the man is making money and is at least not using instruments or puppets to make it.  Co-starring on the show are the loud comedian JB Smoove, actor Duane Martin, singer Robin Thicke, actor Boris Kodjoe and Mr. Mariah Carey, Nick Cannon.

Everyone on the show except Martin would give me reason to be annoyed or a hater.  JB Smoove generally annoys me with his loudness and buffoon-like black man portrayal on “white” shows like Curb Your Enthusiasm; Nick Cannon headlines comedy clubs (please correct me if he is a “real” comedian and I will stand corrected); Kodjoe is married to Nicole Parker who made me happy in Boogie Nights; and Robin Thicke is married to Paula Patton who almost made Tom Cruise’s brilliant sprinting in Mission Impossible 4 an afterthought.

If Vegas were making odds on me hating the show based on all that information they would be 1:100 odds.  Well, in one of the biggest upsets in entertainment history I enjoy the show.

The show is smart – a detail-oriented parody of the reality shows of VH1 and Bravo that plays with the conventions of the “genre” if we can call the Ebola virus of television programming a genre.  Confessionals get overheard by other characters, the editing and music are just slightly exaggerated versions of the genre’s standards and the characters even borrow a little bit of Modern Family/The Office/Parks and Recreation looks to the camera (but only sparingly since people are starting to get a little bored of that trend).

But what makes the show extra funny, to me at least, is that many of the guys poke fun at themselves in ways that people like me would hit them with.  Hart furthers his brand as likable by making himself the butt of most jokes.  He is no Jim Carrey when it comes to physical comedy, but he is still pretty damn good at it.  JB Smoove is toned down (slighlty) and all but defended himself on the show during a fight by claiming that he is on all sorts of white shows and that white people love his sh*t.  And Cannon, who is perceived as Mr. Carey, goes out of his way to be a power player and to be the foil to Hart.  Martin was mocked for never being able to be cast in a movie that did not involve basketball and Kodjoe was mocked as an unemployed pretty-boy.  This may seem like a simple formula – laugh at self-deprecating celebrities, but it is executed really well.  It feels like a silly guilty pleasure, which it is, but it is also very smartly crafted.

What is really shocking about this show to me though, is that it is not on Comedy Central.  Kevin Hart is the most successful comedian working right now and JB Smoove hosted Russel Simmons comedy show a few years ago on the network.  Was the show just pitched to BET or did Comedy Central reject it?  Or low ball Kevin Hart?  Just seems weird that a funny show, with popular comics would not make it onto the network.  But I guess black guys in their 30s and 40s do not really fit into any demographic that Comedy Central is trying to appeal to.  So do yourself a favor when you are done cutting yourself during an episode of Kroll Show (chuckled at the first episode, have not been able to finish an episode since) and check out Real Husbands of Hollywood On Demand.

Back to hating next week.