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He proved a surprisingly capable actor with a welcome screen presence and his observant comedy translated well to the sitcom genre.
He was encouraged by his barber to enter a stand-up comedy contest, which led to bookings on the so-called 'Chitlin Circuit'. Hughley's good-natured barbs were well-received and he proved popular with audiences, notably in appearances on HBO's popular "Def Comedy Jam". Hughley served as the inaugural host of BET's "Comic View", staying with the show from 1992 through 1994. He reached even more viewers with the highly-rated special "HBO Comedy Half-Hour: D L Hughley" (1994) and as a regular on the short-lived "Double Rush" (CBS, 1995).
He segued nicely from harder-edged stand-up fare to his folksy series "The Hughleys". Though maintaining a good bit of edginess, and sometimes incorporating touchy racial issues, "The Hughleys" was first and foremost a family-driven program and in most ways a very traditional and entertaining sitcom. Written and created by, as well as starring Hughley, the series was based upon his own experiences moving into a predominately white suburb. Co-executive produced by fellow stand-up star Chris Rock, it proved a first-season success, gaining strong ratings and earning critical praise. Hughley's visibility skyrocketed with hosting duties on ABC's holiday special "New Year's Rockin' Eve '99" with co-star Elise Neal, as well as appearing as a presenter on several awards shows, which led to hosting gigs on TV specials such as "VH1 Big in 03" (2003) and the 2003 season of Comedy Central's "Premium Blend."
Hughley also enjoyed some crossover success in film, co-starring in the African American ensemble of the drama "The Brothers" (2001) and voicing the Gadgetmobile in the big screen adaptation of the cartoon detective "Inspector Gadget" (1999), along with supporting roles in "Chasing Papi" (2003), "Scary Movie 3" (2003) and "Soul Plane" (2004).