If Larry Wilmore is nervous about the launch of “The Nightly Show” a week from Monday, he didn’t show it during his Q&A Saturday at the Television Critics Assn. press tour in Pasadena, Calif.
Wilmore described the half-hour show that will fill 11:30 p.m. slot vacated by “The Colbert Report” on Comedy Central as a hybrid of “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” and “Politically Incorrect.” The first half of the show will present a look at some key events of the day, while the second half will feature a roundtable discussion with a handful of participants that he promises will go “without a net.”
“The panel discussion will deconstruct events,” Wilmore said. “We’ll have a nice balance of the scripted element and the non-scripted.”
The show has a handful of contributors that will not serve as correspondents in the same way “Daily Show” features them — Wilmore himself was the show’s “senior black correspondent” for years — but more as contributors of comedic bits and perspective.
Wilmore and “Nightly Show” exec producer Rory Albanese and head writer Robin Thede emphasized that the show aims to add a different perspective on news and events to latenight.
“I’m not interested in doing a show where I give my opinion and people react to my opinion. Our show is more about the discovery of things. I want people who will teach me something,” he said. “We’ll have people on who maybe get their minds changed” after discussing a particular issue.
Wilmore was of course asked about his reaction to the carnage in Paris this week after the killings of 12 members of the staff of satirical magazine Charlie Hedbo by extremists in retaliation for printing cartoons they deemed offensive to Islam.
“It’s very tragic and I think we are all affected,” Wilmore said, noting that his staff and the “Daily Show” team was rattled by the incident.
“They’re starting to kill satirists just as a brother’s launching his show,” Wilmore said. “The timing of that is a bit scary.” More seriously he observed, “I give those guys in France a lot of credit for the type of courage” they demonstrate with their publication.
Wilmore cited the Charlie Hedbo massacre as an example of a deadly serious event that would be tackled on the show. “Not every topic is going to be a laugh-generating topic,” he said.
Albanese is a “Daily Show” vet who predates Jon Stewart’s arrival as host. As such, he was the natural choice to help get “Nightly Report” off the ground. Thede is a comic performer and writer with a varied background that includes working on numerous awards shows and live events, as well as the recent Queen Latifah talk show and Kevin Hart’s BET comedy “Real Husbands of Hollywood.”
Wilmore first saw Thede performing in a sketch comedy group and had tracked her career. “I was already wanting to hire Robin and she came in and blew us away with her vision for what she wanted” for the show, Wilmore said.
The Jan. 19 premiere date coincides with the Martin Luther King Jr. federal holiday. The timing was dictated by the calendar and “The Daily Show’s” production schedule more so than a conscious effort to coincide with the national holiday honoring the African-American civil rights leader.
“I had a dream that a brother needed to work on that day,” Wilmore joked.