And a writer will lead them: The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore debuts

in Non-Fiction by

It’s a time of great confusion amidst late-night TV. Two Jimmys and a Seth have settled into their time slots, but David Letterman is on his way out. Stephen Colbert has been tapped to replace Letterman, but he won’t make his Late Show debut until September. And Craig Ferguson, along with his robot pal Geoff and his pantomime horse Secretariat, are gone completely. (Don’t even talk to me about that one. I’m not dealing with it well.)

Into this chaos marches Larry Wilmore, former Senior Black Correspondent of Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show on Comedy Central. Starting January 19, Wilmore takes over The Colbert Report’s post-Stewart slot with a new entry, The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore.

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Wilmore’s background in show business is as broad and diverse as the news stories he’ll serve up in The Nightly Show’s monologues. A dropout from California State Polytechnic University, Wilmore began his show biz career writing and performing stand-up comedy. Then, in 1990, he decided to try his hand at writing and producing television. First came a job writing jokes for a late-night show hosted by Rick Dees, and then a gig writing for the breakthrough series In Living Color.

Eventually, Wilmore shifted to sitcoms, writing for shows such as Sister, Sister and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. He also co-created, wrote and produced The PJs (with Eddie Murphy) and The Bernie Mac Show, the latter of which netted him a Peabody Award, a Humanitas Prize, and a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing of a Comedy Series.

In the meantime, Wilmore also kept a hand in performing, appearing in such acclaimed shows as How I Met Your Mother and The Office. He also wrote a book of comedic musings, I’d Rather We Got Casinos, and Other Black Thoughts. In it, he ponders such questions as whether Black History Month’s 28 days of trivia can make up for centuries of oppression against African-Americans. “I’d rather we got casinos!” he writes.

In 2006, he landed his position with The Daily Show as Senior Black Correspondent, making his trademark wry commentary on racial issues within the United States. In 2014, Wilmore was hired to run the hit ABC sitcom Black-ish, but when it was announced that Colbert was moving to CBS, Wilmore instead opted to accept an offer to move into the former Colbert Report host’s time slot.

Originally tabbed The Minority Report with Larry Wilmore, the show’s name faced a challenge from Fox, which owned the title after using it for a 2002 Tom Cruise sci-fi flick. The name of Wilmore’s show was changed to The Nightly Show, which, according to its host, is more accurate (appearing right after The Daily Show), and more representative of the diverse subjects it will address.

Wilmore’s new show will feature monologues on the news of the day, followed by in-studio comedy segments and taped field reports from a team of regular correspondents. Episodes will conclude with a discussion amongst a panel of guests, during which Wilmore will balance humor and serious conversation.

Can Wilmore deliver a winner for Comedy Central? Given his track record, along with the success of both The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, it’s a safe bet that The Nightly Show will give us yet another excuse to stay up late and show up for work overtired the next day.

Michael Ruscoe is a writer, teacher, and musician living in Southern Connecticut. He is the author of the novel, "From the Stray Cat Files: You’ll Do Anything," the anthology, "Baseball: A Treasury of Art and Literature," and numerous educational texts. An instructor at Southern Connecticut State University, Ruscoe is also lead singer and songwriter for the indie band Save the Androids! In his spare time he earns karma for his next life by ardently following the New York Mets. The proud father of two children, Ruscoe also cares for and supports a pair of goldfish, who, in all honesty, are not very good conversationalists.