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A 'Chocolate' perspective

The Baltimore Sun

The presidential candidacy of Sen. Barack Obama has already inspired several in-depth explorations of race, ranging from CNN's Black in America documentary in July to Ted Koppel's report The Last Lynching, which aired on Discovery Monday.

Tonight on Comedy Central comes a new sketch magazine comedy series, Chocolate News. Created by and starring David Alan Grier, it's a no-holds-barred exploration of contemporary life from a distinctly African-American perspective.

As Grier himself describes it at the start of the pilot, "Welcome to the Chocolate News, the only source of pure, uncircumcised realness from an Afro-centric perspective."

The set design includes blown-up portraits of prominent African-American artists, politicians and performers. None is more prominent than Obama's image.

The pilot is filled with Grier playing various characters, real and imagined. In one sketch, he portrays Maya Angelou reciting portions of poems she has written for the inauguration of either Barack Obama or John McCain. I can't print the punch line of the latter.

This is social satire, and Grier's job is to make a mainstream audience see race and power in new ways. That often involves shock. (10:30 p.m., Comedy Central) ***

LATE-NIGHT GUESTS Actor Martin Short visits the Late Show with David Letterman. Actress Queen Latifah appears on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.

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