Robin Thede, the former head writer and panelist for “The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore,” has teamed with Jax Media to field an independently produced pilot for a weekly comedy news program.
“The Rundown with Robin Thede” is described as a fast-paced half-hour look at the week’s headlines, celebrity newsmakers, social media buzz and pop culture trends. New York-based Jax Media is set to shoot a pilot on Monday that it aims to begin shopping to buyers by the end of this month.
Chris Rock, a friend and mentor of Thede’s, is helping her develop the series along with Jax Media’s Lilly Burns and Tony Hernandez.
Thede has been working on the concept for “Rundown” ever since “Nightly Show” was canceled by Comedy Central in August. Thede was initially recruited by Wilmore to serve as head writer on the show but she quickly became a regular on the show’s roundtable panel. “Rundown” is designed to showcase Thede’s skills on both sides of the camera.
“Some people only know me as a comedian, and some people only know me as a writer,” Thede told Variety. “This marries the best of those things. This show blends field and studio comedy and plays to my strengths as a writer and performer. I want to create a (show) that is unlike anything else on the market.”
Thede envisions “Rundown” opening with a skit spoofing a major event of the week, followed by an in-studio segment in which she “flies” through jokes about the week’s news. The show will be largely focused on Thede albeit with contributors for the sketch segments. She also wants to do field “investigations” on subjects that interest her.
Although politics has been the dominate theme for comedy-variety shows for the past two years, Thede plans to cast a wider net.
“We don’t have a narrow focus just on politics,” Thede said. “I believe people have an equal interest in politics and pop culture, breaking news and silly celebrity stories. … I don’t want to be preachy or angry but I definitely will bring my opinion to topics I’m passionate about.”
Jax Media is bankrolling the pilot in order to present prospective buyers with “proof of concept” of Thede’s vision, said Burns, Jax’s VP and head of development.
Jax has a strong track record of working with female-led comedies. The company is home to TBS’ “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee,” Comedy Central’s “Broad City” and “Inside Amy Schumer,” among others. Jax is known for its skill in helping auteur comedians work within the confines of tight cable budgets.
Burns and Jax president Hernandez were quickly sold on Thede’s idea for “Rundown.” Thede’s background is a mix of writing, acting and live performance. She became friendly with Rock after working with him as a writer on the 2014 BET Awards, which Rock hosted.
“Robin’s unique. She brings a very specific perspective to the news and she’s also fun and warm and bubbly,” Burns said. “She’ll still be hitting politics and important issues but with fun and pop-y elements to make it really funny.”