Kanye West is many things: rapper, producer, fashion designer and new father, but luckily for all of us, he isn’t a TV star. Back in 2008, Kanye West filmed a pilot episode for an HBO comedy, billing himself as “the black Larry David,” and HBO passed on the project. Now, footage from Kanye West’s HBO pilot has surfaced online, and it makes complete sense that he never made it on TV, considering the footage is borderline unwatchable.
Produced by Larry Charles, the untitled pilot was filmed in 2008 and remained unavailable for years. In 2010, however, actress Alison Quinn posted a clip of the show on YouTube as part of her acting reel. The clip stayed largely dormant for years until sites like Spin and the A.V. Club began dredging it up on Monday.
When the show was still in production, Charles described it as West’s version of Larry David’s HBO hit “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” Kanye even went as far as describing himself as the “black Larry David” when developing ideas for the project.
"What Kanye West said to me the first time, he said, 'I'm the black Larry David.' That's the first thing he said to me,” Charles told MTV in 2008. “So it's like a Kanye-and-'Curb' show, it's kind of improvised about the situations and stuff.”
The comparison to “Curb Your Enthusiasm” makes some sense, but mostly seems forced. In the clip below, Kanye meets up with a sick Make-A-Wish Foundation child, who seems nonplussed about meeting the rapper. Apparently, he’d rather use his wish to meet R. Kelly instead. It’s a decent setup for a “Curb Your Enthusiasm”-style encounter, but West’s acting just comes off as wooden and boring. He just can’t recreate Larry David’s brilliantly neurotic onscreen behavior.
Ultimately, HBO passed on the show, but probably not for the reasons Charles told MTV back in 2008.
"It was really good, but ... I think it was too hardcore for HBO,” Charles told MTV. “Also, HBO's management shifted. HBO doesn't have a good track record when it comes to black shows, and I felt like that may have had something to do with it also. I don't see a lot of shows about that experience at all. This was very entertaining and we showed it to a lot of people. People gave it a very good response, and it seems to be on the shelf right now. The management has shifted at HBO, so we're waiting to see."
Watch a clip of the unaired Kanye West HBO pilot below.