‘The Nightly Show With Larry Wilmore’ Offers up Laughs — and Sincerity

The sign above the 50th Street train stop says it all: “The Nightly Show: Evenings at 11:30 p.m. after The Daily Show. No pressure.” With that two-word quip, The Nightly Show highlights what it does best: being as honest as it is clever. To fill Emmy Award-magnet Stephen Colbert’s former time slot – which just happens to be following 19- time Emmy winner Jon Stewart’s time slot – seems like a whole lot of pressure for a new comedy, yet The Nightly Show isn’t trying to fill anyone’s shoes or “replace” anybody. Instead, Larry Wilmore and his team are carving their lane through their own approach: sincerity. The Nightly Show With Larry Wilmore is a breath of fresh air by being the most sincere new show in comedy… and it’s hilarious.

Black Nerd Problems sat down with three brilliant minds behind the show and asked them the tough questions the world wants to hear: Who rides with you in a zombie apocalypse?

(The answer: The zombie apocalypse team includes Richard Sherman, and four iterations of Samuel L. Jackson: Pulp Fiction Samuel L. Jackson, Mace Windu Samuel L. Jackson, The Negotiator Samuel L. Jackson and Snakes on a Plane Samuel L. Jackson.)

The main man in front of the camera, Larry Wilmore, has been in comedy a long time, and you loved his work before you even knew it was him who wrote it. Since performing at talent shows in his teens and sneaking into comedy clubs underage where he once saw comedy legend Richard Pryor, Wilmore saw signs – “indicators,” he calls them – that comedy would be the passion he would pursue in his career. That decision led him to writing for classic comedy shows like In Living Color, and later becoming the creator, writer and executive producer of The Bernie Mac Show. Wilmore spent years behind the camera before deciding to step in front, and now with his own show, he’s bringing a new feeling of candor and endearment to news-based comedy.

“We are the transfer student that was bused in from another neighborhood that everyone’s getting to know,” Wilmore said on defining the identity of The Nightly Show

Keeping with the themes of the show, Black Nerd Problems tested Wilmore with a “Keep It 100” question:

BNP: Before a new Black character joins The Walking Dead, an old Black character has to be killed. If comedy were The Walking Dead, which Black celebrity would you kill for your show to be successful? Keep in mind: the success would be on par with the person you kill. So if you kill (Bill) Cosby, your show would adopt his current public disapproval.

“I love her to death; she’s my girl, but… sorry, I’m going to have to poison (TV director and producer) Shonda Rhimes’ tea.”

The boss of “Keep It 100” did just that, and, fortunately, Wilmore won’t have to slip Rhimes the nightshade for his show to be successful. With a strong start as host, along with endless opportunities for discussing topics and highlighting new perspectives on his notably diverse panels, The Nightly Show is getting comfortable in its home on Comedy Central. Kick back on the sofa and pay attention – I expect the “transfer student” team will have Emmys of their own.

Source: Jordan Calhoun. To read more about BNP’s interview with the masterminds behind the The Nightly Show With Larry Wilmoreclick here

How Larry Wilmore’s Program Is Diversifying Nightly Talk Shows

Comedy Central has had its turn at bat trying to add a little color to late night. The short-lived Chappelle’s Show will live on forever in our hearts despite its host, shrewd comedian Dave Chappelle, getting out early while the getting was good (if you ask him, at least). David Alan Grier’s news satire, Chocolate News, made its best effort but wasn’t quite smart enough for an audience still in withdrawal from the Chappelle magic. The network’s most successful attempt at late night was Mind of Mencia and that show had more hate-watchers than a Dallas Cowboys home game (and about the same effectiveness). They just couldn’t seem to find the right formula.

Who would have thought that all you needed in the end was Stephen Colbert’s old time slot, a Daily Show alumnus and a fairly gimmickless format? Add all these together and you get The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore (originally meant to be titled The Minority Report). At first glance, the comedian’s new late-night follow-up to The Daily Show does a lot to mirror its big brother, hosted by Jon Stewart. You get a sharp, savvy monologue that’s half “A” block news rundown, half standup routine, and highly effective at both.

The real treat here is a raw fearlessness not seen on Comedy Central since Saint Chappelle himself. Not the “Senior Black Correspondent” Daily Show fans have grown to love nor a black version of Colbert’s hyper conservative caricature (modeled after Bill O’Reilly), Wilmore is unburdened by any mandate to play a character. When he expresses his disenchantment with Al Sharpton (“You don’t have to respond to every black emergency! You’re not Black Batman!), it’s not a well-landed Stewart gag that he’ll waste tweets clarifying later. When he stops to place extra exclamation points on his attitude toward Bill Cosby’s Dead Sea Scrolls’ worth … because “laundry lists” are too short … of rape allegations (“That motherf***er did it!”), that’s him talking.

The courageousness goes even further as The Nightly Show follows Wilmore’s well-crafted monologue with a panel discussion. Unless you count those “after-party” shows that talk about the popular show everyone just watched like Talking Dead, panels are rarely done with late-night comedians (with the exception of Bill Maher) because it means they control less variables for a funny show. And make no mistake, the panelists are not mere ringers. From cerebral hip-hop artist Talib Kweli and comedian John Leguizamo to news personality Soledad O’Brien and columnist Jamilah Lemieux, these are opinionated people of mention that give as good as they get.

Read more from Oz Longworth at Black Nerd Problems