Comedian Charlamagne Tha God hasn't been shy about wanting to be a late-night television host, and he's about to get his wish. Starting tonight, the hip-hop radio personality and budding star of the MTV2 program Guy Code will host a show named Charlamagne and Friends. The five-night MTV2 miniseries leads up to Sunday's MTV Video Music Awards, which are marking their 30th anniversary with a crammed slate of performers.
Charlamagne doesn't seem to be intimidated by the task of hyping one of the biggest nights in the entertainment business. "It’s what I do. I’m always talking about pop culture and what’s going on in the world," he told PolicyMic. "Now it’s just an extension of that, with the cameras rolling. For radio, I have to get up at 3:30 in the morning. Here I just have to stay up.”
Charlamagne's referring to his lead spot on "The Breakfast Club," a morning radio show on New York's Power 105, on which he's chopped it up with nearly every major name in hip-hop. This week, however, Charlamagne won't have his radio cohosts, DJ Envy and Angela Yee. It's all on him. “My thoughts are the catalyst for everything that we’re speaking on,” he says. “This time, it’s me as the focal point.”
Still, a little help from his friends won't hurt. Charlamagne and Friends will feature appearances from 2 Chainz, Big Sean, Nick Cannon, New York Knick Iman Shumpert, and a trove of comedians from Guy Code and its sister show, Girl Code. Charlamagne and Friends will also be bolstered by animated shorts on MTV Other that feature Sean, Cannon, and rapper Joe Budden.
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Charlamagne notes that he's watched the VMAs for years, and was invited to the show last summer, where he made friends with Katy Perry's management over his Alicia Keys impression. Surreal as his ascent may be, his preparation for the show remains minimal.
“I’m preparing for it the same way we all do: being a junkie with my iPhone and with Twitter," he says. "The only thing I’m really watching out for is not offending anyone performing, because then they’ll pull out, and I’ll probably end up getting fired. Just tell me who I can’t slander!”
There's unlikely to be much reservation from Charlamagne, who's known for his vocal opinions, and for rants about everyone in Hollywood. His musings on Miley Cyrus caught fire on YouTube this spring, and if Charlamagne and Friends is anything like his radio work, viewers can expect it to raise a few eyebrows.
“If you ever want to see a real person on television, please tune in," he laughs. "I drive a 2004 Cadillac Escalade that’s paid for, and I’m four thousand miles past needing an oil change. Man, that’s how regular I am. I’m just a person that sits around that has the same opinions as you. I’m in the barbershop and on the street. I’m expressing the same opinions and the same political beliefs and the same potentially dangerous rhetoric that the regular American is."
Charlamagne and Friends premieres at midnight EST on August 20, and runs through Saturday.