Comedy Central has released the first promotional video for The Nightly Show, stoking expectations and (hopefully) excitement for the show set to replace Colbert. Colbert is a tough act to follow, but new host Larry Wilmore has the experience to do a good job, or at least that is what people are hoping. Wilmore is not a big name to most people despite his experience and that is something the new promo plays with.
Most of the jokes in the new promo are pretty predictable Comedy Central Daily Show-style fare. No one knows who Wilmore is, the show is like the Daily Show but at night, the black guy is not so surprisingly excited about a show for fat people rather than one for black people and the waitress having to sit through a monologue by Wilmore really just asked if he wanted coffee. So far, so unoriginal. Despite its lackluster skit, the promo has not dampened expectations for The Nightly Show. If anything, it has made them even more keen.
If the promo is just mediocre, then the show could really make a splash. In some ways, the promo has told people what they already knew, but it has introduced Wilmore to the screen and started the process of getting people used to him. It is a good first step and he plays with it well. But what can he really do? Judging from what he has already done, it could be a lot. He was the co-creator of The Bernie Mac Show and wrote episodes for The Office and In Living Color. He has won a Peabody and an Emmy. He is no slouch when it comes to comedy television.
Anyone else with his pedigree might be a frontrunner in the race for success, but he is being read as something of an underdog in this process. Gawker wrote a piece about Wilmore in which the new Nightly Show host was painted as a “butler” for Jon Stewart and was only being allowed into the Comedy Central political comedy mansion because of the senior host’s graciousness. That seems to underestimate Wilmore quite a bit. His record in show business belies that analysis. The man has chops and no one should ignore that fact.
It is true that he has not had the huge success of a Colbert or a Stewart or even a John Oliver, but Wilmore’s Nightly Show chance is a big break and being a relative unknown does not mean he is doomed to fail. Sure, the promo seems a little dull and predictable. Sure, no one knows who Larry Wilmore is. Yes, following Colbert is a really tough job. But viewers can help the Nightly Show succeed by remembering that Wilmore is a comic in his own right and whatever he does will be different from everyone else because he is different from everyone else. He is bringing an experience and a perspective that no one else doing this kind of comedy has. He has earned this spot and no one just let him have it. The new Nightly Show promo is just the first chance the network gets to stoke people’s excitement and keeping their expectations in line with what they already know might be a good strategy at this point.
Opinion By Lydia Bradbury