D. L. Hughley

Comedian, Actor, Political Commentator, Radio Host, & Author

“One of the most beautiful things in the world I've ever seen or heard is people laughing, even when there seems to be so little reason for them to laugh.”

Comic actor D. L. Hughley has been considered an overnight sensation since his ABC/UPN sitcom, The Hughleys, became an instant hit in 1998. However, since 1991, Hughley has been a stalwart of the African American comedy circuit. As he watched fellow performers such as friend, Chris Rock, begin to achieve wider success, Hughley admitted that he occasionally lost his focus. But Hughley’s perseverance ultimately paid off, and he earned offers for two HBO comedy specials, and a spot as the first host of Black Entertainment Television’s ComicView.

D.L. Hughley

Precarious Road To Success

Darryl Lynn Hughley was born March 6, 1964, in Los Angeles. His mother, Audrey Hughley, was a homemaker and his father, Charles Hughley, worked as a maintenance employee for Delta Air Lines. Growing up in the Compton area of Los Angeles, an environment that did not emphasize the potential rewards of achievement, Hughley quickly fell through the cracks. He was a class clown, he explained to Ebony, “because I felt intimidated and didn’t know the answers.” Sucked into gang life by the age of 12, Hughley was a member of the notorious Los Angeles gang, the Bloods.

He was kicked out of high school in the tenth grade and never returned. Of his gang membership, Hughley told People Weekly, “I watched people do a great deal of physical harm to each other.” He added, “You know its wrong, but you don’t have the courage to be different.” In the early 1980s, a gang incident gave him the courage he needed to break away. Hughley’s cousin, a member of the rival Crips gang, was killed and his body dumped on his mother’s doorstep.

In a 1997 interview with the Ann Arbor Michigan Daily, Hughley said, “It was a terrible thing. And what was even worse was that he was in a rival gang. … So I couldn’t even go to his funeral, or I might’ve been shot.” Fearing what the future might hold, Hughley explained to People, “I was afraid I’d do something you can’t walk away from.” Finally realizing that he wanted to be a productive member of society, he quit the Bloods.

Hughley went to work in the circulation department of the Los Angeles Times as a telemarketer, where he met his wife, LaDonna. The couple married in 1986 and had three children, daughters Tyler and Ryan, and son Kyle. Hughley’s telemarketing job with the newspaper eventually evolved into a position as circulation manager. Referring to his job with the Los Angeles Times, Hughley told Newsweek, “I worked there ten years, had all my kids there, bought my house there and used all their medical insurance until I left to do… [comedy]. Most people had odd jobs trying to make it. I had a real job.”

Turned To Comedy

Although Hughley was earning a steady income as an assistant circulation manager, the family was faced with a financial crisis when LaDonna experienced complications during a pregnancy. “The rent check bounced,” Hughley told People in 1998. “We had no food in the house, and the electricity was cut off. I remember thinking, ‘I will never let this happen again.’” Hughley recalls the date he first ventured out on stage in search of an audience: February 14, 1988. “There was no turning back,” he told the Michigan Daily, “When they put that microphone in my hand, I knew stand-up would be my life.”

After three years of local engagements, Hughley quit the Los Angeles Times to pursue comedy on a full-time basis. He was asked to host auditions for HBO’s One Night Stand series, and appeared on HBO’s Def Comedy Jam. Hughley’s second HBO special, according to Ebony, “was nominated for a CableACE Award for Best Comedy Special and became one of the cable network’s highest-rates specials ever.” In 1995, he was cast as Marlon on the doomed CBS series, Double Rush.

Over the next few years, Hughley continued to work the comedy circuit, routinely selling out venues throughout the United States. He rose through the comedy ranks with comedians such as Kennan Ivory and Damon Wayans, Martin Lawrence, and Chris Rock. Hughley watched with envy as his colleagues achieved movie deals and greater fame. “I wondered what I was doing wrong,” he told Jet. “I wondered what I was doing or not doing to get invited to the party. It was tough to stay focused.”

Hughley continued to work hard, and he was eventually able to move his family from Baldwin Hills to the upscale West Hills neighborhood in 1996. For the first time in his life, he was living amid white people. This situation provided comic opportunities for Hughley.

In 1997, Hughley, along with his agent, created a comedy showcase to which they invited executives from all of the major television networks. The material in the showcase consisted of stories from Hughley’s real-life experiences in the suburbs. The comedy showcase was a tremendous success, and Hughley was offered several opportunities to create a new television show.

D.L. Hughley

Scored A Hit

When The Hughleys debuted on ABC in 1998, it was an instant hit. Hughley wrote seven of the first season’s 23 shows, and served as co-executive producer along with Chris Rock and Matt Wickline. Although there were allegations of racism in some of the scripts, Hughley dismissed these concerns. “Some white people think I’m a racist. Some Black people think I’m a racist,” he told Jet.

“But I’m not doing the show from anybody else’s voice but mine. I hope people understand that I’m telling it the way I see it. It’s just my experience.” Hughley credited the show’s success to the fact that it focuses on family issues and concerns that are universal. As he told Ebony, “Every group has its own idiosyncracies, but at a certain point we are all human. We all have the same aspirations… We all want to keep our cable on. We all want our kids to eat. My comedy is very ‘relatable’‐that’s one of the greatest things I’ve ever been told.”

In addition to acting, writing, and producing, Hughley enjoys spending time with his family, swimming, and listening to jazz. He also continued to pursue other projects as well, releasing a comedy album in late 1999, and touring through the end of the century with the toprated” Crown Royal Kings of Comedy Tour.” Hughley is both exhilarated and grateful for his success. “I’m truly blessed,” he told the Michigan Daily. “I love what I do. I’ve been all over the world, and I’ve even performed before [President] Bill Clinton. How can I not like what I do? There’s nothing better.”

Quick Facts

Birth Date:
March 6, 1963

  • D.L. Hughley
  • D.L. Hughley
  • D.L. Hughley


BIO: Realdlhughley.com + Wikipedia.com
PHOTO: YouTube.com + Phresh.cc + Netflix.com + Tumblr.com + BET.com

Last Updated

January 2022

Original Published Date

January 2022

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