W. Kamau Bell came to Summer TV Press Tour to talk about his late-night talk show’s move from FX to FXX in September, and got asked what was missing from the on-TV debate during the George Zimmerman trial. “What was missing…is white people doing this,” he said — then he began to nod his head and keep his mouth shut. “That’s your Listening to Racism face,” Bell said, addressing the mostly white Television Critics Association, and presumably also white on-air news/comedy talent.
“You need to listen to the story before you come to conclusions. The worst thing to say to a person of color is, ‘I don’t think that’s racist.’ I don’t think that’s your area. You can have an opinion but I don’t think you are the final word. That’s what’s missing, white people. You’ve got a lot of jobs” but should not have the ‘I know what’s racist’ job. I know what’s imperialism – that’s your job.”
FX’s weekly late night talk show Totally Biased With W. Kamau Bell debuts as a daily late-night strip at 11 PM on FXX, Wednesday, September 4.
Bell, who acknowledged his original TV hosting aspiration was “rent and health care” now has a first-week guest wish-list that includes Denzel Washington, televangelist Joel Osteen, Rush Limbaugh, and Oprah. A daily show is better, he said, because on a weekly you can “talk yourself out of a dangerous idea…a provocative idea you just would have done” were the show aired daily. “For comics, less time to think is generally a good thing.”
Bell insisted he does not see Jimmy Kimmel, who recently moved to 11:30 PM on ABC, or Jimmy Fallon, who’s taking over for Jay Leno on NBC’s Tonight Show early next year, as his competition. “They’re over there, and we’re driving our car over here…Those guys grew up watching Carson and Letterman and saying, ‘I want to be that guy’,” he said, describing his show as “the most high-end Sunday morning local-affairs show on television.” That said, he admits he wished he’d thought up Slow Jam the News, instead of Fallon. Other than that, “we exist in our own world.”