Larry Wilmore

Writer / Show Creator


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In his three-and-a-half hour interview, Larry Wilmore talks about his early years, developing his stand-up routine, and doing improv. He describes early shows he auditioned for or appeared on, including a.k.a. Pablo and The Facts of Life, and well as appearing on Stand Up Spotlight, and writing for Into the Night. He recounts his time as a writer on In Living Color, and eventually being nominated for an Emmy for that show. He chronicles writing for several shows including Sister, Sister, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and The Jamie Foxx Show, as well as co-creating the animated Eddie Murphy series The PJs. He recalls creating The Bernie Mac Show, and details why he considers it to be his greatest career achievement. Wilmore discusses being hired as a writer and correspondent for The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, which eventually led to his producing and hosting The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore. He speaks of his time hosting that show, finding his voice, its focus on African-American and feminist topics, and finally its cancellation. He talks about hosting President Barack Obama’s final White House Correspondents' Dinner, and the controversy that ensued. He concludes by discussing his writing and producing process, and what he may have in store in the then-future. Jenni Matz conducted the interview in a joint venture with the Writers Guild Foundation on May 9, 2017 in North Hollywood, CA.

"What excites me is finding stories. It’s that journey that is very exciting to me. I’m very interested to know what stories are going to find me and I’m very interested to know what stories I’m going to find."

Highlights
Larry Wilmore on creating The Bernie Mac Show
09:08
Larry Wilmore on the In Living Color writers room, and on some of his favorite sketches
03:09
Larry Wilmore on hosting Barack Obama's final White House Correspondents' Dinner
10:04
Larry Wilmore on working on Black-ish with Kenya Barris, and why he was chosen by Jon Stewart to host The Nightly Show and what he wanted to accomplish on that show
08:35
Larry Wilmore on working with Jon Stewart on The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore on the content of the show, and on the Bill Nye incident
06:56
Larry Wilmore on the cancellation of The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore, and on covering the rise of Donald Trump
03:57
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his early life and influences; on television he watched growing up, and on what The Flip Wilson Show meant to him as an African-American kid; on studying theater in college, and on auditioning for The Gong Show as a teen
16:07
On doing his early stand-up comedy routines and on doing improv; on giving stand-up comedy another try, and on auditioning for A.k.a. Pablo; on his first television appearance, on The Facts of Life; on the experience of walking around studio lots when he first got into television
10:15
On changing the lines on The Facts of Life to make them funnier, which led to him doing stand-up full time; on his comedic influences; on his stand-up act
17:36
On transitioning from writing jokes for himself to writing them for other people, and on finding his voice as a comic; on appearing on Stand Up Spotlight with Rosie O'Donnell, and on his then-emerging interest in politics; on writing for Into the Night
14:12
On how he came to write for In Living Color, and on what he learned as a writer on the show; on turning down chances to audition for and be on Seinfeld; on the In Living Color writers room, and on some of his favorite sketches from that show
07:01
On not wanting to be a performer on In Living Color, and on what he learned as a writer on that show; on being nominated for an Emmy for writing on In Living Color, and on the legacy of the show
05:21

Chapter 2

On writing for Sister, Sister for showrunner Sy Rosen, and on learning to write for a sitcom; on dealing with network notes for Sister, Sister, and on what he learned while working on the show; on becoming a co-producer and writer on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and on writing for The Show, and The Jamie Foxx Show
15:43
On co-creating The PJs starring Eddie Murphy; on the writers of The PJs, and on the diversity of the writing staff; on criticism of the show for portraying racial stereotypes, network notes, and leaving The PJs
15:24
On dealing with negative audience feedback on The Nightly Show; on creating The Bernie Mac Show, and on the style of the show; on the network reaction to and notes on The Bernie Mac Show
19:09
On The Bernie Mac Show being single camera with no studio audience; on working with Bernie Mac on The Bernie Mac Show, and on what made the show stand out; on his leaving The Bernie Mac Show
07:25

Chapter 3

On writing for Whoopi, and Beverly Hills S.U.V.; on appearing on The Office and what it was like for him to return to performing
09:00
On becoming a writer and correspondent on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart; on his first shot on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, , and on his persona on the show; on his Showtime show Larry Wilmore's Race, Religion & Sex in Florida
14:26
On writing for Insecure and Black-ish; on how he came to host The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore, and why he was chosen by Jon Stewart to host; on figuring out what The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore would be
14:13
On the challenge of producing as as well as hosting The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore, and on differentiating the show from The Daily Show with Jon Stewart; on working with Jon Stewart on The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore, on the content of the show, and on the Bill Nye incident; on what the show was ultimately about, and on the show covering feminist issues
12:35
On the cancellation of The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore, and on covering the rise of Donald Trump; on the legacy of The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore; on hosting Barack Obama's final White House Correspondents' Dinner
14:57
On his writing and editing process; on the Writers Guild; on considering himself to be primarily a producer, and on his kinship with stand-up comedy
09:02
On what he enjoys about writing and producing; on mentors or examples in his career; on advice, and on information he wished he had when he started in the business
04:31
On changes he's seen in for African-Americans in television; on then-current projects, and on his then-future aspirations; on his proudest professional achievements and regrets
08:28
Shows

A.k.a. Pablo

View Show Page
Larry Wilmore on auditioning for a.k.a. Pablo
01:42

Bernie Mac Show, The

View Show Page
Larry Wilmore on creating The Bernie Mac Show
09:21
Larry Wilmore on the style of The Bernie Mac Show
04:51
Larry Wilmore on the network reaction to and notes on The Bernie Mac Show
03:50
Larry Wilmore on The Bernie Mac Show being single camera with no studio audience
01:38
Larry Wilmore on working with Bernie Mac on The Bernie Mac Show, and on what made the show stand out
02:25
Larry Wilmore on winning an Emmy Award for The Bernie Mac Show
00:55
Larry Wilmore on leaving The Bernie Mac Show
02:27

Black-ish

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Larry Wilmore on writing for Insecure and Black-ish
03:38

Daily Show with Jon Stewart, The

View Show Page
Larry Wilmore on becoming a writer and correspondent on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
04:40
Larry Wilmore on his first shot on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, and on his persona on the show
05:28

Emmy Awards, The (Primetime and Daytime)

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Larry Wilmore on being nominated for an Emmy for writing on In Living Color
01:06
Larry Wilmore on winning an Emmy Award for The Bernie Mac Show
00:55

Facts of Life, The

View Show Page
Larry Wilmore on his first television appearance, on The Facts of Life
01:14
Larry Wilmore on changing the lines on The Facts of Life to make them funnier, which led to him doing stand-up full time
04:37

Flip Wilson Show, The

View Show Page
Larry Wilmore on television he watched growing up, and on what The Flip Wilson Show meant to him as an African-American kid
04:03

Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, The

View Show Page
Larry Wilmore on become a co-producer and writer on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
02:23

Gong Show, The

View Show Page
Larry Wilmore on studying theater in college, and on auditioning for The Gong Show as a teen
03:05

In Living Color

View Show Page
Larry Wilmore on how he came to write for In Living Color, and on what he learned as a writer on the show
02:21
Larry Wilmore on the In Living Color writers room, and on some of his favorite sketches from that show
03:09
Larry Wilmore on not wanting to be a performer on In Living Color, and on what he learned as a writer on that show
02:10
Larry Wilmore on being nominated for an Emmy for writing on In Living Color
01:06
Larry Wimore on the legacy of In Living Color
02:01

Into the Night

View Show Page
Larry Wilmore on writing for Into the Night
03:14

Jamie Foxx Show, The

View Show Page
Larry Wilmore on writing for The Jamie Foxx Show
01:57

Larry Wilmore's Race, Religion & Sex in Florida

View Show Page
Larry Wilmore on his Showtime show Larry Wilmore's Race, Religion & Sex in Florida
04:18

Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore, The

View Show Page
Larry Wilmore on dealing with audience feedback on The Nightly Show
01:07
Larry Wilmore on how he came to host The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore, and why he was chosen by Jon Stewart to host
03:51
Larry Wilmore on figuring out what The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore would be
06:43
Larry Wilmore on the challenge of producing as as well as hosting The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore, and on differentiating it from The Daily Show
03:15
Larry Wilmore on working with Jon Stewart on The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore on the content of the show, and on the Bill Nye incident
06:36
Larry Wilmore on The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore what was ultimately about, and on the show covering feminist issues
02:45
Larry Wilmore on the cancellation of The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore, and on covering the rise of Donald Trump
03:57
Larry Wilmore on the legacy of The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore
00:49

Office, The

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Larry Wilmore on being a consulting producer on The Office
04:48
Larry Wilmore on what it was like for him to return to performing on The Office
02:53

PJs, The

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Larry Wilmore on co-creating The PJs starring Eddie Murphy
05:51
Larry Wilmore on the writers of The PJs, and on the diversity of the writing staff
03:42
Larry Wilmore on criticism of The PJs for portraying racial stereotypes
02:10
Larry Wilmore on standards and practices notes for The PJs, and on leaving the show after it switched networks
03:41

Seinfeld

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Larry Wilmore on turning down chances to audition for and be on Seinfeld
01:30

Show, The

View Show Page
Larry Wilmore on writing for The Show
01:28

Sister, Sister

View Show Page
Larry Wilmore on writing for Sister, Sister for showrunner Sy Rosen, and on learning to write for a sitcom
03:45
Larry Wilmore on dealing with network notes for Sister, Sister, and on what he learned while working on the show
04:13

Stand Up Spotlight

View Show Page
Larry Wilmore on appearing on Stand Up Spotlight, and on his then-emerging interest in politics
06:33
Topics

Advice

View Topic
Larry Wilmore on advice, and on information he wished he had when he started in the business
01:51

Barack Obama

View Topic
Larry Wilmore on hosting President Barack Obama's final White House Correspondents' Dinner
10:11

Censorship / Standards & Practices

View Topic
Larry Wilmore on standards and practices notes for The PJs, and on leaving the show after it switched networks
03:41

Creative Influences and Inspiration

View Topic
Larry Wilmore on his comedic influences
04:12
Larry Wilmore on mentors or examples in his career
00:41

Diversity in Television

View Topic
Larry Wilmore on the writers of The PJs, and on the diversity of the writing staff
03:42
Larry Wilmore on changes he's seen in for African-Americans in television
01:55

Donald J. Trump

View Topic
Larry Wilmore on the cancellation of The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore, and on covering the rise of Donald Trump
03:02

Emmy Awards

View Topic
Larry Wilmore on being nominated for an Emmy for writing on In Living Color
01:06

Minorities

View Topic
Larry Wilmore on the writers of The PJs, and on the diversity of the writing staff
03:42
Larry Wilmore on changes he's seen in for African-Americans in television
01:55

Pivotal Career Moments

View Topic
Larry Wilmore on his comedic influences
04:12
Larry Wilmore on mentors or examples in his career
00:41

Television Industry

View Topic
Larry Wilmore on standards and practices notes for The PJs, and on leaving the show after it switched networks
03:41
Larry Wilmore on advice, and on information he wished he had when he started in the business
01:51

Television and the Presidency

View Topic
Larry Wilmore on hosting President Barack Obama's final White House Correspondents' Dinner
10:11
Larry Wilmore on the cancellation of The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore, and on covering the rise of Donald Trump
03:02
Professions

Comedian

View Profession
Larry Wilmore on doing his early stand-up comedy routines and on doing improv
04:28
Larry Wilmore on his comedic influences
04:12
Larry Wilmore on his stand-up act
08:47
Larry Wilmore on transitioning from writing jokes for himself to writing them for other people, and on finding his voice as a comic
04:25
Larry Wilmore on considering himself to be primarily a producer, and on his kinship with standup comedy
01:38

Performers

View Profession
Larry Wilmore on doing his early stand-up comedy routines and on doing improv
04:28
Larry Wilmore on his comedic influences
04:12
Larry Wilmore on his stand-up act
08:47
Larry Wilmore on transitioning from writing jokes for himself to writing them for other people, and on finding his voice as a comic
04:25
Larry Wilmore on considering himself to be primarily a producer, and on his kinship with stand-up comedy
01:38

Producers

View Profession
Larry Wilmore on considering himself to be primarily a producer, and on his kinship with stand-up comedy
01:38
Larry Wilmore on what he enjoys about writing and producing
01:59

Show Creators

View Profession
Larry Wilmore on what he enjoys about writing and producing
01:59

Writers

View Profession
Larry Wilmore on dealing with pilot season
01:57
Larry Wilmore on writing for Sister, Sister for showrunner Sy Rosen, and on learning to write for a sitcom
03:45
Larry Wilmore on his writing and editing process
03:37
Genres

Comedy Series

View Genre
Larry Wilmore on auditioning for A.k.a. Pablo, and on his first television appearance, on The Facts of Life
09:19
Larry Wilmore on appearing on Stand Up Spotlight with Rosie O'Donnell, and on his then-emerging interest in politics
06:33
Larry Wilmore on writing for Sister, Sister
07:58
Larry Wilmore on become a co-producer and writer on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
02:23
Larry Wilmore on writing for The Show
01:28
Larry Wilmore on writing for The Jamie Foxx Show
03:54
Larry Wilmore on co-creating The PJs
15:24
Larry Wilmore on creating The Bernie Mac Show
25:27
Larry Wilmore on writing for Whoopi, and Beverly Hills S.U.V., and on appearing on The Office
09:00
Larry Wilmore on becoming a writer and correspondent on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
10:08
Larry Wilmore on writing for Insecure and Black-ish
03:38
Larry Wilmore producing and hosting The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore
27:56

Music Shows & Variety Shows/Specials

View Genre
Larry Wilmore on writing for In Living Color
12:26

Talk Shows

View Genre
Larry Wilmore on writing for Into the Night
03:14
People

Jamie Foxx

View Person Page
Larry Wilmore on writing for The Jamie Foxx Show
03:54

Eddie Murphy

View Person Page
Larry Wilmore on co-creating The PJs starring Eddie Murphy
05:51

Bill Nye

View Interview Page
Larry Wilmore on the Bill Nye incident on The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore
03:27

Rosie O'Donnell

View Person Page
Larry Wilmore on appearing on Stand Up Spotlight with Rosie O'Donnell, and on his then-emerging interest in politics
06:33

Barack Obama

View Person Page
Larry Wilmore on hosting Barack Obama's final White House Correspondents' Dinner
10:11

Sy Rosen

View Person Page
Larry Wilmore on writing for Sister, Sister for showrunner Sy Rosen, and on learning to write for a sitcom
03:45

Jon Stewart

View Person Page
Larry Wilmore on becoming a writer and correspondent on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
04:41
Larry Wilmore on how he came to host The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore, and why he was chosen by Jon Stewart to host
06:44
Larry Wilmore on working with Jon Stewart on The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore on the content of the show, and on the Bill Nye incident
06:36

Donald J. Trump

View Person Page
Larry Wilmore on the cancellation of The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore, and on covering the rise of Donald Trump
03:02

Flip Wilson

View Person Page
Larry Wilmore on what The Flip Wilson Show meant to him as an African-American kid
02:08

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