Racism, politics and Donald Trump… Larry Wilmore calls bull**** on it all
“Like Jon says, if there’s bull****, we want to call it out.”
Larry Wilmore inherited the 11:30 late-night spot this year, and he’s using it to real talk America. On set of The Nightly Show, Wilmore appears unafraid to eviscerate or crack wise about anyone or anything — whether he’s delivering powerful commentary on black fatherhood, or comparing the 2016 elections to Game of Thrones.
Wilmore, who used to be The Daily Show‘s “senior black correspondent,” has stepped out of Jon Stewart’s shadow and is building an identity that he describes as “solidly underdog.”
Off set, Wilmore is as quick with a joke as he is when he’s seated behind a desk on the show, even laughing at himself sometimes. Only there’s no writer’s room backing him up. It’s just Larry. He is smooth, but self-reflective — at one point pushing himself back from going into a tangent about identity politics. And he rejected the notion that he, as a black man commanding an audience in late-night, had any sort of civic responsibility to talk about race.
But a comedic one? That’s a different story.
Late night looks so different today than it did in 2012 — there’s no Jon Stewart, no Letterman, no Leno. How do you see your role in that space?Hopefully we’re doing stuff that nobody else is really doing — looking at culture from our distinct point of view, taking the point of view of the underdog. We always feel like any major event that happens in this country, there’s probably race, class or gender — one of those three things — at the heart of it, and we just try to shine a light on that and give it a platform.
Let’s talk about race. What responsibility, if any, do you feel you have to unpack some of the rhetoric surrounding race in this campaign?I don’t look at it so much as a responsibility. It’s kind of just what we do. I don’t feel any civic responsibility or that type of thing; it’s more of a comic responsibility. Like Jon [Stewart] says, if there’s bull****, we want to call it out. That’s what we’re doing, and luckily for us there’s a lot of humor in there, too. One of the challenges of the show is that we are on Comedy Central. Some things are so tragic that you don’t know what’s funny in it, and some things are so ridiculous you don’t know if it’s worth talking about it. There’s always this fight to figure out what actually is worth including in our show.
How do you deal with those tragic or sensitive situations? Obviously, one that that you’ve dealt with that sticks in my mind is Charleston.Each one is kind of different, you know? I remember Jon didn’t even do comedy that night. He just commented on how tragic it was. But I was really struck by the coverage of it. Here is an incident that clearly was racial. The guy even said it as he shot them. And even in this instance, Fox couldn’t admit it. They had an agenda of it being a religious thing, which still would have been tragic, but it just wasn’t that. The refusal to see something that clearly was a racial incident really just … I couldn’t believe it. So we decided to build a show around that point of view.
Can you give us a view inside the room, how you and your team grapple with how to address those kinds of moments?I always try to find the humanity in it. What is the story? How do we really feel about it? Is there a story in there that is not being told? When the whole stuff was happening in Baltimore, I saw the story about the gang members who apparently were trying to have a truce. I felt like I wasn’t getting good reporting on it so I said, “Hey guys let’s just go down to Baltimore and talk to these guys.” We ended up getting some of them in a diner and having a conversation, which was fantastic … I felt like this isn’t on television, so let’s do it.
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SOURCE: Mashable – Juana Summers