One of the most impressive feats by The Daily Show with Jon Stewart (other than their run of consecutive Emmy wins) has been the showâ€™s ability to launch successful spin offs for many of its former contributors. Stephen Colbert received his own late night show that garnered critical acclaim and multiple Emmy Awards while he arguably supplanted his pal Stewart as the king of fake news. Meanwhile recent Daily Show alum John Oliver has received major buzz from audiences, critics, and journalists alike with his weekly late night program on HBO.
Now that Stephen Colbert can begin preparations to take over for David Letterman, Comedy Centralâ€™s flagship program will now lead into a new spin-off that the network hopes will emulate the same success as its predecessor.
Last night The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore made its debut on Comedy Central, taking the 11:30 pm ET slot once occupied by The Colbert Report. Longtime fans of The Daily Show are very familiar with Wilmore, who was a frequent gust contributor and dubbed â€œSenior Black Correspondentâ€ by Jon Stewart. Heâ€™s a funny individual and understands the demands of the format, so its no surprise he was picked to fill the new void left by Colbertâ€™s departure.
And as a first show goes, Wilmore had successes and a few hiccups.
Viewers who are fans of his dark, blunt comedy were not disappointed. His zingers had zing while the wit that made him popular was on full display. It is nice to see a program where it is all about him. His punchlines were spot on during the first act, as it seems like he has assembled a very capable writing staff that understands his humor. It may not be a complete reinvention of the format, but he looks capable and comfortable nonetheless.
The second act was a little rockier. As had been circulating in the months leading up to The Nightly Showâ€™s debut, Wilmore chaired a roundtable discussion with four guest panelists. It felt like an odd mix of Comics Unleashed and the weekly Sunday roundtable discussion from This Week. It seemed that Wilmore and guests alike were less comfortable in a segment that felt a bit jumbled. Even the camera angles throughout the discussion were a bit off, with many awkward shots of people’s backs and nonverbal expressions.
This is theÂ part of the format that needs more adjustment. Obviously the success of this actÂ of The Nightly Show is heavily dependent on the guests, but for now itâ€™s a work in progress should get better with time. Wilmore and his writers should be able to adapt questions and direction to give the segment more structure.
The finalÂ act was a bit in which Wilmore posed a single closed question to each of his panelists with the stipulationÂ that they â€œkeep it real.â€ The questions were fairly entertaining, eliciting some harsh but funny answers that are all in line of Wilmoreâ€™s humor, and the punishment of having â€œweak teaâ€ thrown at you for giving an answer that does not meet the audiencesâ€™ approval is pretty hilarious. In comparison, the reward for â€œkeeping it realâ€ is an underwhelming square sticker with the name of the bit printed on the front. A bit like this needs a more comical reward, but otherwise has great potential.
All in all, it was not a bad first night. This is less of a review and more of first reaction to the program. The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore is in its infancy and the first night jitters are over. As time goes on, the show will find its voice and settle into its style. Wilmore should be proud of how his first night went and look at the positives. While some bumps occasionally popped up existed, they were few they were few in number and will iron out with time and practice.