D.L Hughley noted on Thursday night that “a boo and a cheer should feel the same” for a celebrity. But it was all cheers for the caustic comedian in Alumni Hall that night as he entertained questions from the audience and spoke on President Barack Obama, the economy and his own experiences.
Hughley, who was recently chosen as the first comedian to host a show on CNN, has garnered attention with his abrasive comedy, his sitcom “The Hughleys,” and his work with Comedy Central, BET and HBO.
Sponsored by Multicultural Affairs, the event filled Alumni Hall with students, faculty, and many from around the area. Prior to his lecture, Hughley took the time to speak with Quinnipiac’s student news outlets.
“Everytime I come to a school I always feel like a liar because I never went to school,” Hughley, who did not receive a high school diploma, said.
But the well-spoken comedian paralleled intelligence with work ethic, noting he would often read a Stephen King novel or USA Today while on the road as a young comedian.
“You have to have the element of out-working people,” Hughley said. “Talent is relative, and opportunities are small.”
After saying a few words following his introduction by Black Student Union president Carla Brown, Hughley welcomed questions from the audience, beginning with a young girl named Twila.
“Why do you think it’s important for kids like me to understand the impact of Obama?” she asked.
Hughley responded by telling her that she had “limitless possibilities.”
“The more people see things, the more they want to believe in it,” he said. “You can shape your own destiny.”
Questions ranging from his comedic career to his daughter to political correctness followed, and Hughley did not mince his words.
“Political correctness is the bane of our society,” Hughley said. “Everyone’s afraid to be vilified for the way they feel. All you can be is you. If you can’t be yourself, then who are you?”
Hughley has received mixed reviews with his CNN show “D.L. Hughley Breaks the News,” especially within the black community due to his aggressive observations of Obama and American politics.
“Nobody’s a deity,” he said of Obama. “That is what I want people to understand–it will only be as good as we make it.”
But within Quinnipiac’s Alumni Hall, Hughley received nods, applause, and a few “Amens,” with his words.
“There’s a huge potential for people to be disappointed and disillusioned (with Obama). Everybody’s whimsical right now, but we have to be sober in our assessments,” he said.
At the same time, Hughley was very pleased to have Obama in the presidential seat.
“I’ve never seen such a time as this where there was such fear and such hope for the future,” he said. “Men like me, who never believed this was possible, now have a Romantic notion of the country that didn’t exist before. The inauguration was the first time I felt inspired to hold and wave an American flag.”
And while Hughley spoke clearly and decidedly, he maintained his comedic nature–observing that in modern politics, “black people are in style.” Michael Steele, an African-American recently elected to head the Republican National Committee, was a “poor man’s Obama,” Hughley joked.
But his thoughts on America’s future were very serious.
“This is where empires either rise or fall,” he said. “This (time) will determine where America is going.”
Hughley’s biggest qualm lay in the American mindset.
“We have to let go of the notion of American exceptionalism,” he said. “We tend to think history starts and ends with us. America has to become a part of the world community if we want to succeed.”
Following more than an hour of questions and answer, Hughley’s final advice to those in attendance was simple.
“If you ain’t living on the edge, you’re taking up too much space,” he said.