‘Chocolate’ conversation

Comedy Central has a new satirical fake-news show Chocolate News, according to its official Web site, features a black perspective on “inherently urban pop culture topics” — but everyone and everything is fair game. Host David Alan Grier promises Chocolate News isn’t just another The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

The Oracle: In the first episode of Chocolate News, you parodied Maya Angelou. How do you prepare to spoof people?
David Alan Grier: Maya Angelou I first did on Saturday Night Live when I hosted it. When I went to host SNL I thought you just went there and they treated you like you were a star and they wrote everything for you, but you get there a couple days early and meet with everybody and they were all “what impression do you do?” and “we can’t wait to hear your materials.” I was like, “I thought you wrote the material.”

So I was sort of making a joke when I said I do Maya Angelou. First off, no one had ever done it, so I couldn’t fail. And No. 2, I thought no one would want to see it. And immediately they go, “wow, that’s a great idea,” so I got stuck by my own mischievousness and that’s where it started.

When I was a kid, when I would look at Maya Angelou, she always looked like when she smiled she had had a stroke or something, it looked to me to be so painful, the smile.

And that’s where it started. But also it was great fun to poke fun at sacred cows, and she is one of the biggest ones. No one is going to say, “Wow, that poem she just read didn’t make sense,” so it’s a way to make fun. I love her, but she is still funny.

O: Do you think Chocolate News is more of a sketch comedy show like Saturday Night Live or a news parody show like The Daily Show?
DAG: No, it’s a sketch show. We never set about to try and do The Daily Show. The difference is The Daily Show takes news directly of the day and they do it every day and (Chocolate News) is really sketch. We have to do it in advance.

We are trying to describe it as more along the lines of a news magazine. And we are poking fun of shows like Tavis Smiley, shows that are obviously and conspicuously constructed to serve the African-American community. And that is one of things we are making fun of, the really self-conscious. It’s a sketch show.

O: Have you gotten any responses from the people you’ve spoofed or made fun of on the show?
DAG: I went on Tavis’ show last week; I rephrased it and said I was paying tribute to him. But Maya Angelou hasn’t rolled up on me or anything.

Also one of the things with the show is we really wanted to create people, create characters and create things. It’s not going to be a lot of impersonating. I did do Maya Angelou, but it’s not going to be about impersonating Barack Obama. It would be more about doing a sketch about his crazy half brother that no one has seen, but still being able to attack the issue but coming at it that way.

Chocolate News airs Wednesdays at 10:30 p.m. on Comedy Central.