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Evanson: Colbert's replacement a smart choice

BY KEITH EVANSON | DECEMBER 05, 2014 5:00 AM

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When I heard Stephen Colbert would leave the “Colbert Report” to replace David Letterman as host of the “Late Show,” I was shocked. I was not surprised that CBS thought Colbert had the chops to replace Letterman, and he is perfect for the role.

His faux-conservative personality, created initially to satirize Bill O’Reilly, had evolved into a platform that was able to bring shortcomings of the U.S. government and pop culture to the light.

His political commentary, although provided through humor, has had a massive effect on culture.
The void left by the departure of Colbert from the 10:30 p.m. time slot on Comedy Central cannot be replaced by just anyone. The quick-witted, improvisational style that Colbert crafted in the famed Second City comedy enterprise is impossible to duplicate.

But, instead of finding a new Colbert, Comedy Central has decided to give America exactly what it needs.

The replacement for Colbert, Larry Wilmore, also known as the “Senior Black Correspondent” on “The Daily Show” with Jon Stewart, is what late night TV deserves.

Let’s just take a look at late-night host shows in evening news time slots. O’Reilly, Megyn Kelly, Anderson Cooper, Rachel Maddow, Chris Matthews, Jimmy Kimmel, Craig Ferguson, Conan O’Brien, and Jay Leno. Notice something here?

Sure, these hosts may have “discussed” topics relating to blacks in America, but how many could properly and accurately assess the issues that affect them every day without seeing racism through rose-colored glasses?

In the coverage of Ferguson this past week, I was greatly disappointed in the lack of insight into the civil injustices that exist in the U.S. legal system. By focusing exclusively on the rioting, many of the hosts missed the point completely.

The only television program I saw that addressed this lack of perspective was, in fact, “The Daily Show,” which is where Colbert made his most notable start and where Wilmore has branched from after writing and acting in several movies and television shows.

The new show to fill Colbert’s spot will be entitled “The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore.” He will be able to address the issues in a way that other show hosts and pundits have failed to do.

If Colbert could effectively use satire and comedy to change the way people thought about politics and mainstream news, imagine how Wilmore will broaden the perspectives of racial issues in modern America.

In a post-Ferguson world, where the issues of race relations have been played down by major media outlets as “not the problem,” Wilmore can shed light on the systematic bias that has held back blacks and other minorities. From housing discrimination to legal bias, America will be awakened by Wilmore.

It is imperative that late-night television has someone such as Wilmore, not just simply to fill our television sets with someone who isn’t white but to address complex issues in America from the perspective necessary for the general public to understand.

The show is slated to start on Jan. 19, 2015, which coincidentally happens to be Martin Luther King Jr. Day. I can’t wait to tune in.


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