"Keep it 100!"
February 5, 2015 9:39 AM   Subscribe

The Fearless Comedy of The Nightly Show With Larry Wilmore [The Atlantic]
"Wilmore's show seems to be in service of such conversations rather than easy, quick jokes. Not that it isn't consistently funny—but it's finding the humor in dark topics, and finding a way into talking about issues many Americans at home might not be able to broach."

The recipe is as follows:

- Opening monologue/commentary from Mr. Larry Wilmore
- Round-table discussion with guests/panel about topic of the day.
- "Keep it 100%" Q& A session. Like truth or dare without the dare. Questions are pointed and frequently challenge the particular panellist's politics/point-of-view. Guests who "Keep it 100!" receive applause and a snazzy sticker. Guests who calculate and 'hum and haw' receive weak tea-bags and live audience derision.
- Larry Keeps it 100%, Larry closes out the episode by answering a question submitted through social media (twitter/facebook). The topic of the next day is also announced.

Mr. Wilmore has tackled a number of issues thus far:

- State of the Black Protest
- Money in Politics
- Allegations Against Bill Cosby
- American Sniper
- Vaccines
- Obesity
- Gay Marriage
“I’m not doing a show where I’m setting up comics to do jokes,” Mr. Wilmore said in an interview earlier that day. “What’s driving this is, we’re finding things out, we’re making discoveries.” ...“it’s urgent and it’s disposable, simultaneously.” ~ New York Times Inteview
posted by Fizz (34 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
I am loving the hell out of this show. The show is tackling interesting and tough social/cultural/political topics. The panel is diverse: politicians, activists, comedians, celebrities, etc. Some round table discussions are better than others, but the show is still finding its feet and I have faith. I am already making it a part of my "before I go to bed"-routine.
posted by Fizz at 9:42 AM on February 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

I've been watching this show every night, and have been enjoying it so far.
posted by surazal at 9:43 AM on February 5, 2015

I've been amazed at how quickly The Nightly Show found its voice. Wilmore is still a bit rough around the edges (or maybe that's his chosen on-screen persona), and the show isn't running smoothly in a groove yet... But within its first week, it went from wobbly to firm, and it's only going to get better.

I've been disappointed with how one guest (out of four) seems to get passed over during the round-table discussion segment in the past couple of shows, but it's easy to see how this would happen during an 8-10 minute segment with a lot of dominant personalities around a table. I hope Wilmore is watching his own prior episodes and will learn how to give that one person a chance for input other than just during the Keep It 100 segment.

Otherwise, I'm truly truly impressed with this show, and look forward to it being around for a while. It feels so different from anything else, and it also feels like something we need right now, culturally.
posted by hippybear at 9:48 AM on February 5, 2015 [3 favorites]

hippbear, The comparison I've been making is that it's like a better version of Real Time with Bill Maher.
posted by Fizz at 9:51 AM on February 5, 2015 [4 favorites]

I'd compare it more to Politically Incorrect, which is a subtle distinction, but an important one in my mind.
posted by hippybear at 9:53 AM on February 5, 2015 [3 favorites]

(I watch Real Time every week, too, so yeah, I get what you're saying.)
posted by hippybear at 9:53 AM on February 5, 2015

My favorite part of the show is the Keep it 100 segment and his final surprise question from Twitter. The opening monologue is really good too.

I guess the only downside to the show is the panel part of it feels a bit too much like Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher, circa-1990s. I don't know how they can get away from that, they always have someone from "the other side" and they always have at least a couple comedians in the panel to keep it lively, but for some reason the discussions aren't always good because the opposing viewpoint people they bring in are so polarizing they don't end up with a conversation and instead just spout talking points.

I guess I wish everyone was more human in those panel segments.
posted by mathowie at 9:53 AM on February 5, 2015 [5 favorites]

You're absolutely right. It's Politically Incorrect before Bill turned smarmy and arrogant. Or has Bill always been that way. That's another topic all together. Either way, I'm loving this show and I think it will get better with time.
posted by Fizz at 9:55 AM on February 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

I also really like the show, but mathowie's point is valid. The short time frame for the discussion doesn't allow for much other than quick talking points, but the times it goes beyond this have been worthy and revealing. The most recent example I've watched (I DVR 'em and watch when I can) had a fat activist and a wheel-chair bound comic discussing fat bias and whether fatness should be considered a disability, and the disabled comic made the point that if there was a lifestyle change that allowed her to get out of her wheelchair, she would make it.
posted by Mental Wimp at 10:01 AM on February 5, 2015 [2 favorites]

I've been thinking they should drop the panel to three guests instead of four - one comedian, two experts. That way the serious points can be made and the comedian can get their jokes out without as much overcrowding.

Also, if you're going to bring on an anti-vaxxer, then have the pro-vax panelist be prepared to counter any conspiracy theories rather than just letting that FDA "whistleblower" thing hang out in the open like that. Grrrr.
posted by Think_Long at 10:05 AM on February 5, 2015 [9 favorites]

Alternately, last night's episode on Black Fatherhood, which eschewed the opening monologue to allow for panel discussion for the whole show... I think that worked really well, too.
posted by hippybear at 10:08 AM on February 5, 2015 [3 favorites]

Love the show, agree that the roundtable format is problematic with only a 22 minute show. Clearly, the correct solution is for Wilmore to jump ship for former colleague John Oliver's network, take Bill Maher's time slot, and let Jessica Williams host the Nightly Show.
posted by tonycpsu at 10:09 AM on February 5, 2015 [12 favorites]

I've been very impressed with the show so far, though I foresee finding the format too limiting and stale for four nights a week. I'd like to see a little more variety and switching things up, and yeah, 22 minutes can feel way too short for the show given the panel discussion aspect. Also, I'm still really sad it's not called The Minority Report. Curse you, Fox!

But there's something very appealing about Wilmore, and I was impressed at how quickly the show established its voice. I was expecting some more wobbles and awkwardness, but there's been surprisingly little of that. It feels simultaneously new and settled.

Also, I so appreciated Wilmore's show on Cosby, because somehow it really did feel like a bold stance to have someone on a major network say, "he did it and why don't we believe women when they say he did it?" There was something in me that felt so relieved to hear someone unflinchingly support those women.
posted by yasaman at 10:10 AM on February 5, 2015 [4 favorites]

Keep it 100 is so good, I wish they would make it a regular segment on Meet the Press. But Wilmore would probably just end up depleting all his tea bags on waste-of-space host Chuck Todd.
posted by Atom Eyes at 10:12 AM on February 5, 2015 [5 favorites]

Agree with tonycpsu-- I have been enjoying Nightly so far, but I think the brevity of the panel format is not giving the show enough room to explore these issues (at least, the way I'm wanting them to). It's really hard to fit monologue + panel + Keep it 100 anyway, and if there's more than one comedian it can be really hard to dig in. 10 more minutes (or a briefer intro maybe) would help a lot.

But I'm realizing it must be a real art to devise a good panel.

Also I really hope Jessica Williams gets a show soon-- I would watch the heck out of that.
posted by actionpact at 10:40 AM on February 5, 2015

I've been feeling more of a Tough Crowd with Colin Quinn vibe moreso than any Bill Maher. But that show's been off the air for over a decade, so I don't know how accurate my memories of it are. But, like Tough Crowd, I like how much the panelists engage with each other, and I like how there's more of a focus on "realness" than on "rightness".
posted by DGStieber at 10:42 AM on February 5, 2015 [2 favorites]

I thought of Tough Crowd too, but if I recall, it was 100% comics on that show.
posted by dr_dank at 10:45 AM on February 5, 2015

Also: Collin Quinn. Meh.
posted by tonycpsu at 10:51 AM on February 5, 2015 [2 favorites]

I guess the only downside to the show is the panel part of it feels a bit too much like Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher, circa-1990s. I don't know how they can get away from that, they always have someone from "the other side" and they always have at least a couple comedians in the panel to keep it lively

The Daily Show used to be solely actors and pop stars (it's hard to imagine Stewart interviewing Spice Girls today), but today he can book almost anyone. If Wilmore is successful and able to get up close to Stewart/Colbert levels of relevance, he'll be able to book more substantial, thoughtful people. Right now, he's just dragging in people he knows and whomever is in the Comedy Central parking lot.
posted by spaltavian at 10:52 AM on February 5, 2015 [2 favorites]

I like Larry Wilmore a lot, but I do not like this show at all. As said, the idea of a panel awkwardly discussing things they aren't experts in while using teen jargon has already been done. And the issues are hot buttonish but rarely explored in depth like on John Oliver's show. It's just the same "Hey here's this thing you have already heard about and here are some opinions about it you already share".

But moreover, first you have to be funny. I could deal with it being not innovative if it was really funny. And the jokes just aren't there yet in any segment. I hope they have time to develop (time that the similarly left wing but way funnier political comedy show Totally Biased was not given). Because we could surely use a show like this one, but, definitely a funnier and more relevant one. Maybe it will become that show! But I wouldn't bet on Comedy Central being any more dedicated to this concept than they were to, say, Chocolate News.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 10:58 AM on February 5, 2015

I'm loving this show so far and I hope it continues to thrive. My concern is that the time slot is going to get pretty dicey this coming fall. Personally, I'll just DVR Larry and watch the opening half hour of Colbert, then maybe a quick check to see which comics are on @Midnight (mandatory viewing: Ron Funches). But I fear The Nightly Show will suffer when Colbert starts up on CBS.
posted by Ber at 11:02 AM on February 5, 2015

The panel discussion itself CAN work -- take a look at the "Black father" panel. Granted, they were given extra time, but I also think it worked because they deliberately did not bring in a contrarian like they had for (for example) the vaccination panel. Maybe it was the particular guests, but what we got was a thoughtful discussion where they listened to each other as well as spoke. I agree with mathowie -- ditch the contrarian.
posted by Mogur at 11:18 AM on February 5, 2015 [3 favorites]

I have found this show incredibly patchy. Some monologues have been good (the comedian guests during the monologues not so much), some panels have been good, but it is wildly inconsistent. It seems to be very dependent on the topic and the panelists — and even then, as many have said, it is almost always too short for a real discussion to take place. (I guess I'm in the minority here, but I think Keep it 100 is pointless; it is really "Answer the way the crowd wants you to/as controversially as possible and be rewarded with cheers" and rarely offers anything genuinely insightful or adds anything to the discussion. I wish they would use that time for more panel instead).

BUT I do find myself still tuning in most nights (or, well, increasingly on Hulu the next day, I must admit), because it does always feel like I might hear a voice or perspective that I wouldn't anywhere else on TV, and that is exciting.
posted by retrograde at 11:36 AM on February 5, 2015

My concern is that the time slot is going to get pretty dicey this coming fall.

I wonder what percentage of the Daily/Nightly/@Midnight audience actually watches the show in the normal 11-12:30 timeslot? I don't stay up that late, and usually watch them all the next day on Hulu. Unfortunately, I won't be able to watch the Colbert Late Show that way, because (being a CBS show) it won't be on Hulu.
posted by Strange Interlude at 11:39 AM on February 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

I watch Comedy Central when I'm having breakfast. My routine used to be Daily Show, Colbert Report.

I'm giving the Nightly Show a chance, but I'm not really liking it, especially the panel discussion. I watch the first bit and then switch to the last episode of @Midnight.
posted by Pendragon at 11:40 AM on February 5, 2015

I've only seen the Vaccines episode so far, and thought it was incredibly strong for a show as fresh-out-the-gate as this one is, and that Wilmore is a very natural interviewer/leader-of-the-round-table/whatchamacallit.

One thing that particularly struck me was that there was a woman on the panel to defend the anti-vax side of things, and Wilmore managed the trick of being completely respectful towards has as a guest and human being, while never pretending to respect her opinion. Moreover, he seemingly set this example for the rest of the panel as well. Nifty trick, that.
posted by Navelgazer at 11:58 AM on February 5, 2015

I want to like it, and I watch it for the moment because it's in between Stewart and @midnight, which I watch while I'm doing my late-night prep work stuff (so sometimes I fade out anyway), but so far I'm not really feeling it. The best show so far, to me, was the black fathers. I think the on-the-street segment was better than most monologue stuff has been, and I don't care much for the final question from twitter either.

The panel depends so much on who's on it - though I will say they've had some pretty interesting guests, and I'm kind of intrigued by their own regular contributor - is it Mike Yard? - so there's potential. But I don't see Wilmore as a great host...

Now, Jessica Williams, yeah, that would be good.
posted by mdn at 12:20 PM on February 5, 2015

I really like it -- it was strong out of the gate, and while it's still trying to figure out its pacing, I love that it has its own voice and perspective. Larry Wilmore gets to do his own thing. Some of the shows have been hit or miss, but that's any show.

I loved Colbert Report and I liked how far off into the weird it went as it progressed, but The Nightly Show just feels more relevant to the issues we're dealing with in the world now. I'm excited to see it grow and settle into what it needs to do.
posted by darksong at 12:53 PM on February 5, 2015

I like it so far (we usually save a few episodes of Stewart and this to watch later on) but I can see the format wearing thin.

Wilmore is a pro. He has been on and around TV for ever. I am glad that he is getting this opportunity.
posted by Danf at 12:54 PM on February 5, 2015 [2 favorites]

Great show, possibly empowered by the success of John Oliver to be more "Real", but becoming So Real that it must be a true shock to the biggest fans of Colbert. CC is taking a big risk here and I just hope they stick with it well after the first inevitable ratings 'disappointment'. I just wish it could've kept its original intended title: "The Minority Report", but a Spielberg TV pilot permanently killed that meme.
posted by oneswellfoop at 2:38 PM on February 5, 2015

I've watched every episode since the debut. Some have been stronger than others but I've enjoyed most, laughed here and there, and I think I'll keep it in my daily media diet.
posted by gen at 4:16 PM on February 5, 2015

I enjoyably watch it until the Keep it 100 segment comes on, which I find unbearable. That section feels forced and is by any measure less witty than the rest of the show.
posted by AndYouWillKnowUsByTheTrailOfBread at 7:02 PM on February 5, 2015

Yesterday's show was fun and interesting, probably the best so far.

Jessica Williams is fantastic and definitely needs her own show. Political? Sketch? Daytime? Maybe she could take over for Stewart? He seems tired of doing the show, anyway.
posted by Ik ben afgesneden at 8:41 PM on February 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

I had heard of this show, but hadn't seen it yet. This is awesome. Thanks, Fizz.
posted by Sleeper at 3:27 AM on February 7, 2015

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