“We talk Selma, Ferguson, and Eric Garner. It’s Comedy Central’s worst nightmare – brother finally gets a show in late night TV. But of course he’s gotta work on Martin Luther King Day,” Larry Wilmore said, tonight opening The Nightly Show, on Comedy Central, in Stephen Colbert’s timeslot.
The top of the show featured Wilmore in The Daily Show Senior Black Correspondent mode:
“I am so excited to be here. This is so exciting,” Wilmore said. “There’s so much to talk about – especially if I had the show a year ago. All of the good bad-race stuff happened already. Seriously, there’s nothing left – we’re done.”
In re Oscar snubs for Selma’s director and lead actor, Wilmore complained, “I wish there was a black Hollywood expert who could go to bat for us.” It’s followed by a news clip of Al Sharpton calling for an emergency meeting next week in Hollywood to discuss “possible action around the Academy Awards.”
“Sharpton?! Again!?” Wilmore marveled. “I mean, no one else can represent? Al: slow down, man! You don’t have to respond to every black emergency You’re not black Batman…I mean, look at yourself, Al Sharpton. I appreciate your efforts but you’re literally stretching yourself thin. Take a break… Al. You need to eat food – not just air time.”
Wilmore promised to feature a diverse panel of voices, providing “a perspective largely missing in the late night television landscape.” Tonight’s panel included comedian Bill Burr, Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), and hip hop recording artist Talib Kweli. The panel discussion was pretty standard TV roundtable fare.
It was followed by a segment called Keep It 100 which, Wilmore explained, is his people’s version of whites’ Truth or Dare – “except we don’t have the dare.” That got interesting when he asked Booker if he wanted to be POTUS.
“No,” said Booker, looking disingenuous politician-y. The audience booed in disbelief, and Wilmore threw a bag of weak tea at him. “We are all, especially politicians, far too concerned with position and purpose –” Booker persevered. Wilmore threw a handful of tea bags at him.
As recently as January 10, Comedy Central’s programming chief Kent Alterman had joked, “We don’t have a clip of the show, we don’t even know what the show is going to be, to tell you the truth.” That same day, at Winter TV Press Tour 2014, The Nightly Show’s exec producer Rory Albanese – a veteran of Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show – said they had not yet done any test shows for the show that would take the 11:30 PM timeslot, and that their first test show would not happen until before the debut. It all sounded fun and seat-of-the-pants. Except comedian Dean Obeidallah, earlier today, wrote a piece about being a panelist on one of the show’s tests in which Wilmore had advised his faux guests to keep it “real” – a month ago. Oops.
Back in May, Comedy Central announced it had tagged Jon Stewart’s Senior Black Correspondent to succeed Colbert, once again going to Stewart’s show bench for a host. Stewart created, and the show is produced by his Busboy Prods.