BET has assembled some bona fide comedy kings – and princes, too — in an all-new, star-studded Tuesday night lineup featuring Kevin Hart’s semi-improv Real Husbands of Hollywood and Second Generation Wayans, a scripted comedy starring (and culled from the lives of) Damien Dante Wayans and Craig Wayans, nephews of the legendary Wayans brothers.
Billed as “the fakest reality show on television,” Real Husbands of Hollywood turns the tables on one of reality TV’s most prolific — and over the top — franchises, putting the newly divorced Hart, Nick Cannon (for the sake of the premise of the show, we’ll call him Mr. Mariah Carey), Boris Kodjoe (Mr. Nicole Ari-Parker), Duane Martin (Mr. Tisha Martin-Campbell) J.B. Smoove (Mr. Shahidah Omar) and Robin Thicke (Mr. Paula Patton) in hilariously man-centric situations that tweak their Bravo counterparts and let the men’s comic talent shine. The half-hour weekly series is an expansion of the popular skit from Hart’s 2011 and 2012 BET Awards hosting gigs.
As is the case with Real Housewives, Husband’s cast and guest stars address the cameras to discuss their counterparts and what’s going down.
Take for example, this clip of a friendly poker game assembled by Anthony Anderson and attended by Hart, Cannon, Jermaine Dupri, Nelly and Bobby Brown. “I started this househusband thing; I was the first one to land me one of the big fish,” says Brown, ex-spouse of late pop superstar Whitney Houston, after a throwdown between Nelly and Hart culminates in Hart stripping off his shirt to reveal the name “Mariah” tattooed across his shoulders — just as Cannon walks in.
“She’s not the only Mariah in the world — I could name another Mariah!” Hart retorts to the camera in an interview clip reminsicient of the Housewives shtick.
He can’t name another Mariah.
“This show actually was something I wanted to do because it’s so different,” Hart told reporters at the TCA Winter Press Tour, currently underway in Pasadena. “Not only is it different for me, but it’s different for BET. We’re mocking what everybody makes fun of on a regular basis. … [We] put a group of men together that are talented enough and aren’t afraid to make fun of themselves.”
As for how much of the show is scripted and how much is big personalities on the loose, Hart explained, “We definitely have an outline, a template, where our writers, our producers, make sure that we have a story. And within that story, of course — because you’re dealing with comedians and you’re dealing with actors who are bringing so much to the material — we have room to improv. … I can definitely say working with J.B. is amazing because the level of improv that you get out of the both of us coming from a comedic background is endless.”
Asked if the show could rely a bit too much on racially-specific humor for its laughs, Smoove — a Saturday Night Live and Everybody Hates Chris vet best known as Leon Black on Larry David’s Curb Your Enthusiasm — shrugged off the naysayers. “We’re all forgetting about that one little portion of what makes entertainment so fun, what makes being a man different, what makes us being comedians and entertainers different,” Smoove said. “Funny is funny and men are going to be men — white men, black men, Indian men. We all do the same stupid stuff over and over again, and that’s why it’s called Real Husbands. We just happen to live in Hollywood.”
“We made it a priority not to go too far within the jokes that we were trying to create,” Hart added. “And we made sure that we didn’t want to offend women or even men or particular races. I think that’s something that BET stands strong behind because that’s not what their network is about, nor is it what this show is about. … It’s about making fun of what we see on a regular basis. So all you’re doing is looking at men who were put in the situation to react. That’s it.”
And, said Hart, the real lives of the cast and “guest husbands” give them plenty of organic material to work with.
“The personnel that are involved in our show becomes our situations,” he said. “Boris, who’s known to be an attractive man — we feel like his time is past. Nobody thinks you’re attractive anymore, Boris. That becomes something to talk about. Nelly being a rapper, he’s into weights. You know, stop lifting. It’s too much. J.B. speaking — he spits a lot. Let’s talk about it. Robin being with Paula Patton — we feel like it’s not fair because Paula Patton should be with one of us. These are things that we do — self‑inflicted. We create our own problems in our environment, and we react to those problems from the other actors that are involved in the show.”
Even Cannon was perfectly happy to send up his home life with Carey, whose stint as a judge on Season 12 of American Idol begins Wednesday night on FOX. In fact, he had such a good time filming a limited story arc that he signed on to Real Husbands as a regular, making Hart a happy man.
“Nick Cannon coming on board was the best thing to happen to us, because Nick was only supposed to do a couple [episodes],” Hart said. “But because Nick started to do the show and he saw what the show was and how excited we were, he got that much more excited on his half, and he brought things from his personal life to us. He wanted us to incorporate things about him and Mariah in the show because it’s things that people have said about him for so long. So he said, you know what. If people are saying it, why not make fun of it and make it even more crazier than what it already is to him.”
Despite the A-list crew — and “guest husbands” that include Jay Leno, Modern Family‘s Ed O’Neill (a Hart and Smoove favorite), Faizon Love, Common, Trey Songz, Cedric the Entertainer and Shaquille O’Neal — Hart said egos only entered the picture as part of the story line.
“Being that it’s a fake reality show and we’re mocking what these real reality shows are, of course there’s egos involved — I mean, that’s where the fun comes from,” he said. “[But] the reason why we were able to do so much and get so much out of the personnel that’s involved in the show is because we don’t have egos within our own beings. Boris and Robin and J.B. and Nelly and Nick and Faizon and so many more guests that we had come along, we all put our egos aside, and we all said, ‘Hey, we’re coming here for the same reason. That’s to make a great show. So let’s do that the best way we can by making fun of ourselves.’
“Nobody was exempt.”
Real Husbands of Hollywood premieres Tuesday, Jan. 15 at 10pm on BET.
BET photo by Chad J. Wilson