When Stephen Colbert exits the Comedy Central line-up in December, there will be a huge void to fill. But the “Colbert Nation” may have a likely replacement in that time slot when The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore premiers in January. The new show will focus on news and popular culture just like Colbert and Jon Stewart’s show does, but it will have a focus on the underdog. Larry Wilmore, the “Senior Black Correspondent” on The Daily Show, has the comedic chops to pull the show of, as well as the perspective needed to truly represent minorities in the late night line-up. But what can viewers expect from Colbert’s replacement and will The Nightly Show be able to fill those very large shoes?
The important thing to remember is that Wilmore is no Stephen Colbert and his show will not be the same format. Despite being in the same time slot, using the same studio, the same office spaces and the same subject matter, this will not be The Colbert Report 2.0. The appropriation of almost all the Colbert operating spaces has not gone unnoticed by Wilmore, who joked that he would also be moving into Colbert’s house and driving his car. Still, he insists that the show will be original and have its own modus operandi when it comes to examining the issues. Wilmore envisions it as a comedic Meet the Press, a very different format from the monologue nature of Stewart and Colbert.
But that idea may be subject to change. The show is being put together in a very short time span, meaning that many details are still up in the air. Even the title for the show was subject to change. Originally it was supposed to be called “The Minority Report,” but that had to be changed when another television series based on the original movie was announced. Rather than force viewers to use the full title, The Minority Report with Larry Wilmore, every time, the show’s managers decided to change the title.
This is just one example of the huge amount of work that still faces the show before its January 19 premier. Once Colbert signs off for the last time, his set will have to be demolished and a new set for The Nightly Show will have to be constructed. That is a big task which has to be completed in a mere month. With the Christmas and New Year’s holidays, it may be even more difficult to do, but Wilmore is optimistic and says he is up to the challenge.
What is more daunting for Wilmore is the fact that he succeeds Stephen Colbert in that time slot. After nearly a decade of stellar comedy and numerous awards, Colbert’s absence from the Comedy Central schedule will be keenly felt and no one is more aware of that than Wilmore. Nevertheless, the fact that he is not Colbert may stand him in good stead. As an African-American, he is bringing a much needed minority perspective to the late night line up and he is adamant that the focus will be on the many underdogs who do not have a platform from which to speak. As Wilmore put it, “It’s a show about underdogs, and that happens in a lot of different forms, whether it’s race, gender or whatever.” This may be a refreshing perspective after Colbert’s unashamedly top-dog performance as a satirical Conservative.
As the replacement for Colbert, The Nightly Show will have a lot of expectations to live up to and what it does with its time will be of great interest to many. The success of John Oliver as a newcomer to the comedic news genre is a positive for Wilmore, but he faces a different set of challenges. He is a replacement and replacements are subject to the high expectations that their predecessors have left in the audience’s minds. Wilmore seems to have a good handle on the situation, however. He is daring to be different, to be his own unique voice and to be funny at the same time. The time slot may be the same, but Wilmore’s The Nightly Show will definitely be something new.
Opinion By Lydia Bradbury