‘ComicView’ Series Revival Aims to Support Next Generation of Comedians: ‘Instrumental in Growing the Black Comedy Scene’

It’s been over 30 years since the original “ComicView” made its debut on BET, helping launch the careers of several comedians, including D.L. Hughley, Sommore, Cedric the Entertainer and more. Now, fellow alum Kevin Hart and his production company have the goal to do the very same thing with Hartbeat’s revival of the stand-up comedy series.

“It was so instrumental in really growing the Black comedy scene for so many years,” Bryan Smiley, Hartbeat co-president and chief content officer, told TheWrap. “We wanted to keep the DNA of what a great stand-up is intact. It is very much an art form that is tried and true. We’re just kind of updating the look of it, the feel of it. But that said, we brought back people that really understood the structure of stand-up comedy. And for us, because you haven’t seen it in so long on television, really think we’re reintroducing that to a new generation of people as well.”

The idea for the comeback of “ComicView” — now titled “Comic View” — came from Hartbeat co-president and chief distribution officer Jeff Clanagan, who has produced several of Hart’s productions, including his high-grossing comedy special “Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain.” Clanagan, who serves as the executive producer for “Comic View,” pitched the show’s return in 2022.

“Jeff Clanagan said, ‘What if we brought that back? We should be supporting the next generation of comics, whether that’s fresh voices or even voices that have been around a long time that we haven’t seen in a while,” Smiley said. “Kevin loved it, I loved it and we went to BET with it. Over the course of a year or so, we found the path forward with the project.”

The original “ComicView” aired 1992 to 2008, with an initial revival in 2014.

This time around, “Comic View” welcomed today’s comedians: Jay Pharoah, Tacarra Williams, Bresha Webb, Jess Hilarious and DC Young Fly. However, longtime comics like Tommy Davidson and Tony Roberts are also slated to hit the stage, and the show will host the televised stand-up debut of Grammy-winning rapper Tip “T.I.” Harris. Plus, Mike Epps (“The Underdoggs”) delivers as host.

“A lot of the people that performed on this run, we’ve been in business with a long time, or people that Kevin has known a long time,” Smiley explained. “It was a combination of people in our Hartbeat ecosystem, and also people we just think are hilarious and need a stage to perform.”

Smiley also shared that he’s proud to be able to bring back a show that meant so much to communities of color.

“I remember watching it as a young adult on television, and it was that go-to show every night … It was just a fun, safe place to laugh on your couch, and I think that’s true for a lot of families across America, especially a lot of families of color. So honestly, it’s been a real privilege and honor to watch it come back to life in the way that gives that experience to people who are now adults in our current time.”

“Comic View” had a four-episode premiere on BET+ on March 14. Watch the trailer, below:

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