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Weekends at the D.L.

D.L. Hughley is a smart, thinking comedian, as evidenced by his appearances on panels on “Real Time With Bill Maher” and his act in the movie “The Original Kings Of Comedy.” It’s too bad that his own show, “Weekends at the D.L.,” airing 11 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights on Comedy Central, shows only small flashes of that intelligence, and instead falls into the trap of cleaving to the late night talk show format without doing anything inventive with it.

Like Craig Ferguson, a likable enough presence who took over for Craig Kilborn on “The Late Late Show” on CBS, Hughley seems compelled to stick to a format, perhaps while he gets more comfortable as a late night host. Unfortunately, the pieces of “Weekends at the D.L.,” a 30-minute show, seem borrowed from others -- like the panel discussions Bill Maher uses and in which Hughley himself has taken part and appeared much sharper; filmed sketches about race that mostly fall short of the edge displayed by Dave Chapelle on his show; and a regular monologue that comes off too much like the voices of Hughley’s writers and not enough like his own voice.

In the panel segments, Hughley isn’t as incisive and involved as Maher is, so he doesn’t bring as much out of the panelists -- on one of the first three shows, Lewis Black simply turned to material from his own act to keep the discussion going. Hughley has made it a trademark of this show to drink wine and smoke on camera at points in the show, maybe to make it feel like the viewer is at a comedy club. But this could be part of the show’s problem -- that this slows Hughley down. Just a guess.

  

   

     

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