Max Ufberg looks back at the first week of The Nightly Show:
So far, [host Larry] Wilmore has already mocked the Academy Awards, poked fun at Al Sharpton, and taken down Bill Cosby (“That motherfucker did it”). The response has been favorable. Critics have praised Wilmore’s affability and wryness, even his “ideological unpredictability.” He has, as the New York Times’ Alessandra Stanley puts it, “a disarming way of laughing at his own jokes and those of others.” The show’s closing Bill Maher-style roundtable discussion format, while less of an immediate hit, certainly offers long-term potential.
Genetta M. Adams observes that Wilmore “comes at current events in the same manner that brothers at the barber shop or sisters at the hair salon do: straight up and no-holds-barred”:
And even if Wilmore’s takes on topics like Cosby aren’t particularly new, as Slate’s Willa Paskin rightly points out, “There has previously been no black perspective on late night to take these subjects on with such matter-of-fact vigor.” His signature segment, “Keep It 100,” can lead to some squirm-in-their-chairs moments for panelists who have to answer a question honestly or face the prospect of getting some “weak tea”—literally—as they’re handed tea bags. Rapper-activist Talib Kweli had such a moment when he was asked, “When it comes to black images, is hip-hop part of the problem or part of the solution?” …
Variety’s Brian Lowry wondered if The Nightly Show’s format and edgier take on the day’s news would make the show a “no-go zone” for newsmakers and celebrities who wanted to pitch their movies or books. But who cares? The last thing late night needs is another show for celebs to pimp their products.
Rawiya Kameir makes another key point:
One of Wilmore’s most important and praiseworthy attributes is his implicit acknowledgment that “minority issues” are really just American issues, and that they deserve to be treated as such.