The format for The Nightly Show is pretty straightforward. First, Larry introduces the topic for that night's show (from racism to sports to comic book changes) and delivers a comedic monologue on that topic. Next, he brings on a panel of four people to discuss the topic. After they chat for a while (and a commercial break) comes the "Keeping It 100" segment, where the panelists have to answer a tough question. If they answer honestly, they get a "Keeping it 100" sticker; if Larry or the audience things the guest is equivocating, hesitating, or being less than honest, they get weak tea (and teabags thrown at them). And at the end, Larry has to answer his own "Keeping It 100" question that he's never seen before,
Unfortunately, it didn't take long for that format to fall by the wayside. Often there'll be some sort of comic skit that cuts into the time, so the guests often don't have to Keep It 100. Other times Larry will ask everyone the same question, so while the first person may feel on the spot, the others have plenty of time to think about it before they answer. And it seems like ages since Larry himself has had to answer a question at the end of the show. And even when they follow their format, five minutes for four guests means a far too short amount of time for the guests to talk: They usually only get a few sentences in, and if one person dominates the conversation the others can wind up almost totally left out. And while the guest composition is usually three people agreeing with one dissenter, sometimes they all share the same viewpoint and just support each other totally. That makes for less debate and more self-congratulation.
Fortunately, Larry Wilmore is a good host. He's funny (love his openings), he does keep the conversation going, and while he's hardly a loud-mouthed pundit (like so many news shows have), he does put his opinion out there pretty firmly (as when, during the first week, he said about the Bill Cosby rape allegations, "The mother****er did it").
I wonder if The Nightly Show is still trying, a few months in, to find its direction. I hope it does: Larry is very funny and talented, and he certainly deserved to succeed. For now, though, The Nightly Show is entertaining but more than a little all over the place.
Overall grade: B-
Reviewed by James Lynch