Though Larry Wilmore had always hoped to be a performer, his early career was as a comedy writer. He wrote for shows like The Fresh Prince of Bel Air and In Living Color, and created The Bernie Mac Show. He moved in front of the camera as The Daily Show’s “senior black correspondent” in 2006. So when Stephen Colbert ended The Colbert Report last year, Comedy Central tapped Wilmore to host the replacement show.
The Nightly Show premiered in January. In the beginning, Wilmore struggled to hit his stride. “People are holding your feet to the fire immediately,” Wilmore tells Fresh Air’s Terry Gross. “It was so difficult those first couple of months. I mean, you’re just in the middle of the storm, just trying to figure out how to do the show.”
Wilmore is a self-proclaimed nerd — and proud of it. He practices magic, loves space and cites Woody Allen and Monty Python among his comedy influences “It used to be that the black comic figure had to have this bravado and always showed strength,” he says. “Now there’s a comic figure where it’s okay to just be a nerd and be black.”