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."

Interviewee(s)
Highlights
Larry Wilmore on creating The Bernie Mac Show
Larry Wilmore on the In Living Color writers room, and on some of his favorite sketches
Larry Wilmore on hosting Barack Obama's final White House Correspondents' Dinner
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
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
Larry Wilmore on the cancellation of The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore, and on covering the rise of Donald Trump
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
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
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
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
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
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

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
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
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
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

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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Shows

A.k.a. Pablo

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Larry Wilmore on auditioning for a.k.a. Pablo

Bernie Mac Show, The

View Show Page
Larry Wilmore on creating The Bernie Mac Show
Larry Wilmore on the style of The Bernie Mac Show
Larry Wilmore on the network reaction to and notes on The Bernie Mac Show
Larry Wilmore on The Bernie Mac Show being single camera with no studio audience
Larry Wilmore on working with Bernie Mac on The Bernie Mac Show, and on what made the show stand out
Larry Wilmore on winning an Emmy Award for The Bernie Mac Show
Larry Wilmore on leaving The Bernie Mac Show

Black-ish

View Show Page
Larry Wilmore on writing for Insecure and Black-ish

Daily Show with Jon Stewart, The

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

Emmy Awards, The (Primetime and Daytime)

View Show Page
Larry Wilmore on being nominated for an Emmy for writing on In Living Color
Larry Wilmore on winning an Emmy Award for The Bernie Mac Show

Facts of Life, The

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

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

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

Gong Show, The

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

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
Larry Wilmore on the In Living Color writers room, and on some of his favorite sketches from that show
Larry Wilmore on not wanting to be a performer on In Living Color, and on what he learned as a writer on that show
Larry Wilmore on being nominated for an Emmy for writing on In Living Color
Larry Wimore on the legacy of In Living Color

Into the Night

View Show Page
Larry Wilmore on writing for Into the Night

Jamie Foxx Show, The

View Show Page
Larry Wilmore on writing for The Jamie Foxx Show

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

Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore, The

View Show Page
Larry Wilmore on dealing with audience feedback on The Nightly Show
Larry Wilmore on how he came to host The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore, and why he was chosen by Jon Stewart to host
Larry Wilmore on figuring out what The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore would be
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
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
Larry Wilmore on The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore what was ultimately about, and on the show covering feminist issues
Larry Wilmore on the cancellation of The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore, and on covering the rise of Donald Trump
Larry Wilmore on the legacy of The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore

Office, The

View Show Page
Larry Wilmore on being a consulting producer on The Office
Larry Wilmore on what it was like for him to return to performing on The Office

PJs, The

View Show Page
Larry Wilmore on co-creating The PJs starring Eddie Murphy
Larry Wilmore on the writers of The PJs, and on the diversity of the writing staff
Larry Wilmore on criticism of The PJs for portraying racial stereotypes
Larry Wilmore on standards and practices notes for The PJs, and on leaving the show after it switched networks

Seinfeld

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

Show, The

View Show Page
Larry Wilmore on writing for The Show

Sister, Sister

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

Stand Up Spotlight

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

Advice

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

Barack Obama

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

Censorship / Standards & Practices

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

Creative Influences and Inspiration

View Topic
Larry Wilmore on his comedic influences
Larry Wilmore on mentors or examples in his career

Diversity in Television

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

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

Emmy Awards

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

Minorities

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

Pivotal Career Moments

View Topic
Larry Wilmore on his comedic influences
Larry Wilmore on mentors or examples in his career

Television Industry

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

Television and the Presidency

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

Comedian

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

Performers

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

Producers

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

Show Creators

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

Writers

View Profession
Larry Wilmore on dealing with pilot season
Larry Wilmore on writing for Sister, Sister for showrunner Sy Rosen, and on learning to write for a sitcom
Larry Wilmore on his writing and editing process
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
Larry Wilmore on appearing on Stand Up Spotlight with Rosie O'Donnell, and on his then-emerging interest in politics
Larry Wilmore on writing for Sister, Sister
Larry Wilmore on become a co-producer and writer on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
Larry Wilmore on writing for The Show
Larry Wilmore on writing for The Jamie Foxx Show
Larry Wilmore on co-creating The PJs
Larry Wilmore on creating The Bernie Mac Show
Larry Wilmore on writing for Whoopi, and Beverly Hills S.U.V., and on appearing on The Office
Larry Wilmore on becoming a writer and correspondent on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
Larry Wilmore on writing for Insecure and Black-ish
Larry Wilmore producing and hosting The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore

Music Shows & Variety Shows/Specials

View Genre
Larry Wilmore on writing for In Living Color

Talk Shows

View Genre
Larry Wilmore on writing for Into the Night
People

Jamie Foxx

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

Eddie Murphy

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

Bill Nye

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

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

Barack Obama

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

Sy Rosen

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

Jon Stewart

View Person Page
Larry Wilmore on becoming a writer and correspondent on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
Larry Wilmore on how he came to host The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore, and why he was chosen by Jon Stewart to host
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

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

Flip Wilson

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

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