He has a very distinct presence
September 15, 2013 12:05 PM   Subscribe

W. Kamau Bell Is Trying To Become A Thing
A few years ago, sick of performing for San Francisco audiences who didn’t want to hear about race or politics, he was ready to quit comedy completely. Now he’s the host of TV’s most diverse, boundary-pushing nightly talk show, which just happens to be the flagship of a new network. No pressure or anything.

Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell on fxx.com and Video on Demand
Previously on MetaFilter: Sarah Silverman talks about the roasting she got at the James Franco roast
posted by andoatnp (23 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
 
this is good. He deserves to become a thing.
posted by sweetkid at 12:31 PM on September 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


He's fantastic and deserves every bit of press or whatever he's getting.

His episode/interview on Aisha Tyler's Podcast is well worth a listen if you're inclined.
posted by Ufez Jones at 12:39 PM on September 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm not the world's biggest Kamau Bell fan, but it's great seeing smart comedians being allowed to expand their horizons beyond the comedy club format, especially following a lukewarm stand-up career (see Maron) and especially when it comes to talking about politics. One glance at mainstream television - Stewart, Colbert, Maher - and it's not hard to see that the only intelligent, independent political and social commentary is coming from comedians. The only people speaking the truth in the king's court these days are the jesters.

Will somebody please give Reggie Watts his own talk show
posted by phaedon at 12:40 PM on September 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


"San Francisco audiences who didn’t want to hear about race or politics"?
Do those exist?
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 12:41 PM on September 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


this is good. He deserves to become a thing.

He really does. And, at least in our household and on our DVR, he's already Totally A Thing. I did a little dance when I saw the once-weekly show is now five nights a week.

The Fella got re-tweeted by W. Kamau Bell yesterday, and we both got kinda ridiculously excited. HI, W. KAMAU!
posted by Elsa at 12:59 PM on September 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


Will somebody please give Reggie Watts his own talk show

The next best thing.
posted by Room 641-A at 1:01 PM on September 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


"San Francisco audiences who didn’t want to hear about race or politics"?
Do those exist?


They're in the Marina.
posted by lamp at 1:03 PM on September 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


They're in the Marina.

They're everywhere. How many Mission-dwellers really want to hear or think about gentrification, for instance?
posted by kenko at 1:10 PM on September 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


"San Francisco audiences who didn’t want to hear about race or politics"?
Do those exist?


San Francisco audiences want to be told how correct they are about race and politics while they complacently drive families and poor people out of the city. They all "have black friends."
posted by JoeBlubaugh at 1:38 PM on September 15, 2013 [11 favorites]


We're a self-selected bunch, obviously, but the audiences I've seen Kamau with (on this side of the W. Kamau Bell Curve turning point he refers to) were into hearing him talk about race and politics. I've been delighted to see him get a bigger audience (regretting only that he stole away all my wife's and my other favorite local comics to be his writing staff.)
posted by Zed at 1:41 PM on September 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


But more on-topic:

W. Kamau Bell is great and three cheers to the FX people for recognizing a great voice. His writers (like Janine Brito) are great, too. I love that this show will go anywhere but not "go anywhere" in that Jeselnik "I'm SO OFFENSIVE!!!!HAHA" way.
posted by JoeBlubaugh at 1:41 PM on September 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


The Silverman piece is more accurately about the roasting she received FOR the Frano roast
posted by Bwithh at 1:52 PM on September 15, 2013


I'm glad they needed fodder for FXX otherwise I suspect he'd be a canceled thing. Go Kamau Go! He's a cool guy obviously, and I like his style, more Hmmhahaha than belly laughs. Fits well with Louie.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 2:00 PM on September 15, 2013


Also I know a couple of his writers and they are the opposite of the Harvard White Boys club that writes so many TV shows.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 2:02 PM on September 15, 2013


"San Francisco audiences who didn’t want to hear about race or politics"?
Do those exist?


It seems to be a context thing, not so much at a comedy show, but as Kamau showed do it in a 1 hour one man show and we're totally cool about it. Its all marketing.
posted by bitdamaged at 2:08 PM on September 15, 2013


I'm glad they needed fodder for FXX otherwise I suspect he'd be a canceled thing.

If they were that desperate, they'd still be retooling Brand X. I suspect that Totally Biased would be 4.5 nights a week (Sundays is a clip-show-plus) on FX if they hadn't expanded. Having a nightly talk show (as loosely as you can associate TB and Bell with that format) makes you more of a Real Network these days (see also TBS and Conan).

The Silverman piece is more accurately about the roasting she received FOR the Frano roast

The jabs that No More Nr. Nice Gay threw at her were all of the same ilk as the jabs the other roasters were throwing at her.
posted by Etrigan at 2:29 PM on September 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


Will somebody please give Reggie Watts his own talk show

I'd settle for weekly Free Jazz Odyssey.
posted by lkc at 4:09 PM on September 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


In sorta related news, Key & Peele's comedy show about race and politics and other things will be returning for its third season this week. Here, a few more of the best college athletes in the nation get ready for the madness.
posted by fuse theorem at 4:42 PM on September 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


Here, a few more of the best college athletes in the nation get ready for the madness.

Lost it at "Cartoons Plural".

(Also, Buzzfeed has content which does not consist of numbered lists of photographs? Since when?)
posted by jcreigh at 4:53 PM on September 15, 2013


The article doesn't mention his podcast, The Field Negro Guide to Arts and Culture, with Vernon Reid of Living Colour. Between Totally Biased and touring gigs and whatnot they don't exactly put out shows like clockwork—53 episodes in about three years—but a new one was released just this week! It's a nice, slow-paced two guys talking format. Both of them sharp and thoughtful. Sometimes it's over an hour talking about The Avengers or Harry Potter, sometimes it's Trayvon Martin. I've just noticed that in the iTunes podcast directory it's filed under Philosophy.
posted by mumkin at 7:30 PM on September 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


I caught one episode of this once and really liked it! So after seeing this thread, I thought I'd watch tonight and start recording the series. Right off the bat the episode opens with a joke in which the intended punchline seemed to be "transgender people exist--we are Officially in the Future!" and the actual punchline received by the audience was "transgender."

Yeah. I will be reading instead tonight.
posted by byanyothername at 9:49 PM on September 15, 2013


That was the "Mixtape" weekly recap -- they pick a few bits from the Monday-Thursday show, add in some "bonus material" and let one of the writer/performers host it. I am utterly fucking mystified why they chose that "Host stumbles through Trans 101 with audience member" bit to start off the Mixtape -- it was totally divorced from the context of possibly the least Trans 101 interview (with Laverne Cox from Orange is the New Black) I've ever seen: no questions about "When you were male" or "What was your birth name" or dismissal of her point that she doesn't like fans to just come up and touch her, because as a black trans woman, some stranger laying hands on her is not always a prelude to a nice thing.

So you might want to give it another chance. That was only their second Mixtape episode, and I hope at least one member of the writing staff is going to come in to work this morning saying, "Why was that the lead-in?"
posted by Etrigan at 2:16 AM on September 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Thanks; I'd planned on giving it another chance (the previous episode I saw with Alex Wagner was excellent), but I wasn't really steeled for that lead in and kind of felt weird for the rest of the night. Having a little context makes it feel less laughing-at-you jokey, but airing it without context was a bad idea.
posted by byanyothername at 8:25 AM on September 16, 2013


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