If you’re not watching this man — Larry Wilmore on The Nightly Show (on Comedy Central network) — then you should. Because it’s good for you (laughter and best medicince, right?) and because if you’re not watching, your missing something potentially important.
When Colbert left his Report for the Big Microphone at CBS, Wilmore moved into his old slot, cushioned behind Jon Stewart for the first 6 months while he developed his own voice, and now helping The Daily Show adjust to its new, South African host. Which means both the Daily and the Nightly are now commented on by black men — one American black, and one African black. And they are two exceptionally different sensibilities. Trevor Noah brings a bit of how the rest of the world sees U.S. and our news to the table along with a wide world view — and Larry Wilmore brings a big dose of our blind spot(s) to dinner.
You know how people are always saying, “It’s time we have a conversation about ____ (and ____ is usually race, or gun control, or waste & greed, or child hunger, or whatever… but lately —race)??? Well, Larry Wilmore has hit the ground talking — and the conversation is underway. He brings the notion of what makes us all different and what makes us all the same out front and in public, with hardly any hesitation. And less and less hesitation as we all (regardless of race) discover that it’s always better to know more than to hide or whisper and know less (yes, white people, I’m talking to us/you/whoever.) I can’t even count the things I know after a few months of open conversation with Wilmore and his diverse table of commenters that I not only never knew — but never had a way to know. He’s taking the conversation about race (and everything else) on 4 nights a week — in small, funny, heartfelt and intelligent bursts of words and emotions and empathy and sympathy.
Some nights I’m totally surprised by his or his guests’ perspective. Most of the time it just adds depth and context to what I already know to be true. Occasionally I realize I’ve completely missed the point, or just don’t understand or share the reference — like being on the outside of a private joke, trying to laugh anyway. (Not sure if I’m just not cool enough for the room, too old, or if it’s the Asperger’s/autism boxing me in….) Whatever the case, this is not an old school “chat show.” People occasionally show up to hawk their latest book-movie-tour-special-record etc. But most of the time — they’re on this stage to talk and think and play off each other and crack wise, each in their own funny or smart(ass) way.
The table of guests every night is interesting — like that list of 5 people you’d like to have over for dinner. It’s interesting when it’s all black men from different backgrounds/professions. It’s interesting when it’s all women political voices and Larry. It’s interesting when it’s all comedians — and when Wilmore’s the only one. But everybody from Neil deGrasse Tyson, Mike Yard and Norman Lear; to Busta Rhymes, Sarah Silverman, and Bill Nye the Science Guy is at the table. And though it took a while for the voice to become clear, it has in the last few months taken shape. While very (very) few shows are outright about race and racial issues — almost all shows and guests comment on, or correct, or emphasize some subterranean part the conversation. This is not a “black” show or about “black” news — but it doesn’t ignore or try to hush the different perspectives and experiences at the table, either (or at home watching on television or on a computer screen.)
If you’re not watching — you should be. Mostly because it’s very entertaining. That many comedians and intelligent writers in one studio its always a good idea.
But also because the conversation is underway and it’s a good conversation to be eavesdropping on. No matter what race you count yourself, or what political party or what religion. If you are vegetarian or omnivore. Hipster or retiree. Urban or farmland. Gay, straight, or yet to make up your mind…
–>Find a monitor and watch, listen, and be part of the conversation.