Larry Wilmore Strikes Serious Tone With Ferguson Protests Discussion on ‘Nightly Show’ Premiere (Video)

Comedy Central late-night premiere discussion on protests was a stark contrast from Stephen Colbert’s buffoonery

Last Updated: January 20, 2015 @ 9:08 AM

Larry Wilmore’s replacement for “The Colbert Report” debuted on Martin Luther King Jr. Day after “The Daily Show” on Comedy Central, and it marked a notable departure in tone. Whereas Colbert’s comedic alter ego was a blustering buffoon, Wilmore was all about “keeping it 100,” or keeping it real.

While there were jokes and humorous moments, for the most part his was a far more serious affair than either “Colbert” or Jon Stewart‘s “Daily Show.”

Rather than a single guest, Wilmore followed the lead of shows like “Real Time with Bill Maher,” presenting a panel of guests that he kept on the show through two segments to talk about a single topic. Monday night’s show focused on the various protests that have occurred in the past year, including the Ferguson protests that grew violent.

As with all daily programs — or “Nightly” in this case — it remains to be seen exactly what kind of show Wilmore will settle into as “The Nightly Show” progresses. But for the most part, Wilmore is a seasoned comedian who knows the kinds of topics that interest him.

He did have a few verbal stumbles along the night, which could have simply been the nerves of hosting his very own show for the first time. Plus, coming on in the enormous shadow of what Stephen Colbert built in the timeslot over so many years had to be daunting as well.

For his first panel, Wilmore was joined by comedian Bill Burr, Senator Cory Booker, rapper Talib Kweli and Indian actress Shenaz Treasury, who is apparently on the “Nightly Show” staff as well.

In his first recurring segment, he called for his guests to “Keep It 100,” answering pointed questions with complete honesty. If they did to the audience’s satisfaction, they got a sticker. If they didn’t they got a teabag. Only Sen. Booker was slammed with tea bags when he said he had no interest in becoming president.

As for Wilmore, his “Keep It 100” question came from his staff, asking him his last racist thought. It was wondering if a white woman on the street thought he was going to rob her. Future questions will come from the viewers of the show.

For Tuesday night’s show, Wilmore will discuss the rape allegations surrounding Bill Cosby, so he’s definitely coming out of the gate with some heavy topics.

Watch Monday night’s debut: