Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore

by Holly West

Have any of you been watching The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore? The topic hasn't really come up in my FB or Twitter feeds and I'm curious whether the show is making any sort of impact.

To be certain, Larry Wilmore, the former Senior Black Correspondent on The Daily Show, had big shoes to fill when he took over Stephen Colbert's time slot on Comedy Central. And admittedly, the show isn't as good as the Colbert Report, but that doesn't mean it doesn't deserve a place at the table. It's a different show with different goals. The question is whether it's achieving them.

First, it's a comedy show and yes, it's funny. I'm genuinely entertained by Wilmore and I like hearing what he has to say. Not everything he does hits the mark, but then that's the case with most comedy, I'd say. So goal accomplished.

What about its wider aims?

People like to say we need to have a "conversation" about race in this country. I think that's true, but nobody seems to know where to start. Personally, I think a good place to begin the dialogue is for white people to quit having knee jerk reactions to the subject of racism. Take a step back and really listen without being defensive. I assure you, black people know that not all white people are racist. You don't have to keep saying it. Just please listen to what people who've experienced racism first hand have to say and try to take it in.

Wait, how did this post become about me and my own views about race? That's not what I meant to talk about.

What I like about The Nightly Show is that Larry Wilmore is actually trying to have a conversation about race. The show isn't only about race, but the subject comes up rather frequently. It's focus is the news of the day with an emphasis on social justice and politics. There's no denying that the tone of the show is "liberal," but it's less divisive than say, Real Time With Bill Maher. It will no doubt offend a few of the more conservative among us, but there's no pleasing everybody, is there?

There are problems, of course, with attempting to address complex subjects in a half-hour comedy format. Often, it barely scratches the surface of topics that require some deep consideration from multiple view points. At best, the show serves as a starting point for discussion. At worst, it glosses over important points without giving both sides a chance to speak their piece.

It remains to be seen whether The Nightly Show will become a cultural phenomenon like the Colbert Report and The Daily Show. They probably need to up their game with more high profile guests before and perhaps dig a little deeper into certain topics without skewing the narrative too far to the left. Its strength lies in is its potential to ask hard, legitimate questions without being so polarizing that the opposite side shuts down.

Is that even possible in a show that is, at it's heart, a comedy? Its predecessors managed to achieve it to a large extent, even if The Daily Show has been written off as being for college students and stoners. Regardless, I'd like to see Larry Wilmore and The Nightly Show succeed.

1 comment:

pattinase (abbott) said...

Thanks, Holly. THis has made me much more curious to take a look.