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How Larry Wilmore Navigates His New Show Through the Trump Era

Andrew Wallenstein
·2-min read

Wringing laughs out of the political headlines these days can be tough given how bleak the news is, but Larry Wilmore is up to the task.

The veteran writer/producer/performer recognizes the awful truth about the comedy business on the latest episode of the Variety podcast “Strictly Business.” “Unfortunately, when the world is going bad, it’s good for us,” he observed. “It’s a not a nice combo platter.”

Listen to the podcast here:

Wilmore is bringing his brand of topical humor to the talk-show genre with his self-titled program on the Peacock streaming network, which premiered last month with his focus on the latest White House dramas too crazy to ignore. But don’t confuse “Wilmore” with his previous Comedy Central series, a more joke-driven affair than his latest work, which he likens to a humorous version of the PBS news program “Firing Line.”

In this episode, Wilmore also traces his evolution through a TV-industry career spanning three decades, from his early attempts to get Black-themed TV shows taken seriously, as he did with his breakthrough work on “The Bernie Mac Show” and “The PJs,” to his work shepherding the next generation of Black comedic voices who are well on their own way to success, including Issa Rae and Robin Thede.

He’s gratified Black creatives are making huge strides in Hollywood these days, but sees room for improvement. Said Wilmore, “There’s definitely a lot of progress that’s been made, but we were so far back, there’s still a ways to go.”

The interview with Wilmore was recorded Oct. 15 as a keynote conversation at the Variety Entertainment & Technology Summit.

“Strictly Business” is Variety‘s weekly podcast featuring conversations with industry leaders about the business of media and entertainment. A new episode debuts each Wednesday and can be downloaded on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, Stitcher and SoundCloud.

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