The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore premiered on January 19th. It is the replacement program on Comedy Central for The Colbert Report. It airs immediately following The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.
I am a huge fan of The Daily Show and was also a huge fan of The Colbert Report before it shut down in December so Stephen Colbert can take over The Late Show on CBS later this year. Both shows were essential viewing for me. I was sad when The Colbert Report came to an end.
Larry Wilmore was one of the "correspondents" on The Daily Show for the past few years and did many funny bits. I had high hopes that his new show would fill the void left when The Colbert Report shut down. So far that hasn't happened.
I watched all four shows this week before I sat down to write this review. I kept hoping it would get better. It had some funny stuff but the panel discussion in the second half of each show is a train wreck. The overall format reminds me of HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher. Larry opens the show alone with some topical humor in the form of a newscast. He is then joined by four guests, actually three guests and one member of the show's cast/staff, at the desk. Larry asks each of them questions and the others are free to chime in. It is not as much of an open discussion as on Maher's show and seems much more structured. The staff member is there purely for comic relief.
At the end of the panel segment is something Larry calls "Keeping It 100" in which he asks each panel member a ridiculous question. The audience, and Larry, determine whether the answer is 100% truthful or something less. It's a keeping it real kind of truth or dare. He asked one panel member who is part Latina and part Black which group she would identify with if she had to choose only one. He asked a Cuban-American if he would kill Fidel Castro if he was alone with him in a room. What purpose do these hypothetical questions serve? How many heavy hitters will join the panel if they think Larry will ask them an embarrassing personal question? I think it's a stupid bit.
There will probably be many tweaks to this show. Maybe the things I dislike will be eliminated or at least reduced. Larry is a funny guy but so far I don't think the show is. After the first week, I would give the show a C-. That's a B for the opening segment and a D- or F for the fake panel segment.
I realize that I am not anywhere near the demographic that this show is aimed at so I'm sure they are not concerned what the old farts think. I'll tune in again every so often to see how the show evolves but it is not must see TV.