Radio personality Charlamagne Tha God has built an audience of more than 4.5 million listeners a week for his provocative observations on daily headlines, politics, trends and pop culture. Now the author, podcaster and co-host of syndicated radio morning show “The Breakfast Club” is stepping up to a new microphone on Comedy Central.
The ViacomCBS channel has given a series order to “Tha God’s Honest Truth With Lenard ‘Charlamagne’ McKelvey.” The weekly half-hour show, to premiere Sept. 17 at 10 p.m. ET, promises to revolve around Charlamagne’s “culturally fluent take on social issues” and also feature sketches, interviews and “social experiments.”
“Tha God’s Honest Truth” hails from MTV Entertainment Studios. Rachael Edwards (“Nick Cannon Presents: Wild ’N Out”) is showrunner and executive producer. Stephen Colbert and Chris Licht of CBS’ “The Late Show,” Aaron McGruder, Karen Kinney, James Dixon and Norman Aladjem are also executive producers.
Charlamagne, aka Lenard McKelvey, had short-lived roles on talk and comedy shows for MTV and MTV2 a decade ago, a which allowed him to build a relationship with Chris McCarthy, the longtime MTV executive who now oversees Comedy Central and other ViacomCBS brands as president-CEO of MTV Entertainment Group.
“This is one of those moments where I can show you better than I can tell you,” Charlamagne said of the “Tha God’s Honest Truth.” “This is the third talk show Chris McCarthy has done with me and those shows prepared me for this opportunity. My South Carolina brethren Stephen Colbert is the ultimate co-sign in the late-night space and he wouldn’t co-sign no bullshit! We are going to win an Emmy next year for best lighting direction I can feel it!!!”
Charlamagne has made a career out of his contrarian reputation, calling himself at various times the “prince of pissing people off,” the “ruler of rubbing you the wrong way” and the “architect of aggravation.”
In his Charlamagne Tha God persona, McKelvey has been a rising voice for some time. “The Breakfast Club,” the radio program that originates from New York’s Power 105 station and he co-hosts with DJ Envy and Angela Yee, marked its 10-year anniversary last year. Charlamagne signed a lucrative pact with distributor iHeartMedia that called for him to launch the Black Effect Podcast Network and serve as the company’s senior creative officer of culture and content programming.
Last year Charlamagne also created a book imprint through the Atria Books arm of Simon & Schuster. He scored a best-seller in 2017 with his first book, “Black Privilege: Opportunity Comes to Those Who Create It,” and in 2018 with “Shook One: Anxiety Playing Tricks on Me.”
“Charlamagne knows exactly what he wants to do with this show – which is smack the audience upside the head every week and make sure they’re paying attention to the world around them,” said McGruder, creator and producer of “The Boondocks” franchise. “He is keenly aware of the power of his voice and always looking to use it to maximum effect, which requires both talent and courage.”
Charlamagne became a sensation on radio in the 1990s in his native South Carolina. He worked with Wendy Williams on radio, which brought him into the cable comedy world with stints on MTV comedy game shows “Guy Court” and “Guy Code.” In 2014 he hosted MTV’s short-lived “Charlamagne & Friends” talk show, and the following year he tried a weekly MTV2 late-night berth with “Uncommon Sense With Charlamagne.”
But over the past decade, he came into his own in the audio arena. The daily radio spot and the popular podcast “The Brilliant Idiots” helped establish Charlamagne as a cultural gatekeeper for the hip-hop community. He has made nine appearances as a guest on Colbert’s “The Late Show,” which helped spark the partnership on the Comedy Central series. The two share the common trait of being natives of the Palmetto state. The man who grew up as Larry McKelvey has been vocal in his work about his formative experiences in his native Moncks Corner, S.C.
“For too long, the town of Moncks Corner, South Carolina has been underrepresented in late night,” Colbert said. “I look forward to all the ways in which the fearless, peerless Charlamagne is going to change the game.”
The pact with Charlamagne also brings Colbert back to Comedy Central, the outlet where he got his break as a correspondent for “The Daily Show” and had a 10-year run as host of its late-night companion, “The Colbert Report,” which wrapped in December 2014.
Charlamagne’s “thought-provoking and uninhibited observations both get under people’s skin and open their minds, which is why we are thrilled to be doing this show with him and equally thrilled to welcome back the Dean of Late Night to Comedy Central, Mr. Stephen Colbert,” said McCarthy.
Charlamagne is repped by ICM Partners, KK Entertainment and Del Shaw.