Why I Didn't Watch Larry Wilmore

(NOTE: Based on time elapsed since the posting of this entry, the BS-o-meter calculates this is 3.618% likely to be something that Ferrett now regrets.)

I meant to watch The Nightly Show With Larry Wilmore.  I’d always liked him on the Daily Show – not loved him, but he always had some good insights and I respected him.  Then his show switched over, and…
I forgot.
Which happens.  I’m slow to put shows on my DVR.  Jon Oliver was on HBO for a solid year before I finally remembered, “Oh, yeah, I can add him.”  I adored Samantha Bee, having linked to her videos three times in my blog, and I still haven’t put her show on record.
But Larry?
He wasn’t viral.
Which is a weird thing to say, but that’s how it worked.  I’d have forgotten about Jon Oliver except that every other week he did some fifteen-minute segment that blew up my Twitter feed and had me saying to Gini, “Oh, you gotta watch this.”  I keep meaning to put Samantha Bee on my DVR because she keeps popping up from time to time when she goes viral, albeit with less frequency than Jon “One Shot, One Kill” Oliver.
I can’t remember a viral Larry Wilmore clip.
Oh, I can remember a number of Tumblr GIFsets going around wherein Larry said something appropriately snarky, but a GIFset is basically a one-liner – which is a good thing, but there’s a difference between a good one-liner and a full set.
Whenever Jon Oliver went viral, he had a solid eight minutes of show that told me, “Okay, when he’s on, he’s worth watching for eight straight minutes.”  When I saw Larry Wilmore going around, his GIFsets told me “When he’s on, he’s good for fifteen seconds of wry exasperation.”
So I never watched.
And now he’s cancelled.
Yet virally speaking, Larry’s got it way better than Noah Trevor, who is theoretically broadcasting but I’ve never seen a friend link to anything he’s ever done.  (I’m sure one of you has, calm your jets, but compared to Larry Wilmore?  Maybe one in a hundred, if that.)  Noah is like the least viral host I can remember.
I’ve never seen a new Daily Show, either.
Those two things are connected: Virality and me watching.
Now that Larry’s cancelled, I realize the bias of preferencing TV hosts who are good at getting snippets out to Twitter and Facebook.  Not every comedian can sum up things in a pithy five-minute video.  It’s entirely possible that Larry Wilmore was really great, and I didn’t watch simply because he didn’t have mastery of a viral medium; that doesn’t necessarily reflect quality.
(It’s also possible that my Twitter and Facebook are too white-skewed – but I get a lot of RTs from Black Twitter, and I didn’t see Larry popping up all that much.  Still, could be me.  Still, if it is me, that means there’s a good chance Larry wasn’t showing through to my segment of White Twitter.)
And, I think, Larry’s handicapped by being black.  Not in the sense you might think; Larry’s angriest moments that I’ve seen on the Daily Show and in the Twitter GIFsets tended to be more eye-rollingly peevish than actually furious.  And I think of the viral videos from Jon Oliver and Samantha Bee, and they were sputtering – but that anger’s often a white privilege, because white people can get angry and cutting and crude and not be tarred as the angry incoherent black man.  Just like Trump can scream and yell, whereas Obama has to be this cool, calculating man because if he loses his crap he’ll get dragged into a lot of stereotypes that will absolutely destroy his message with white America.
(Cue Key and Peele’s “Obama anger translator” routine.  And I watched Key and Peele because they went viral with clips like that, though Key and Peele could be angry through characters they played, not the news-host personality that theoretically reflected them.)
Yet, I think, anger is a major component of virality when it comes to comedy news.  That fury is something viewers react to. And maybe it’s that Larry and Noah express their rage in a much chiller fashion and that’s their personality, not their tone-shifting – but I try to imagine a black Lewis Black, raging and spluttering and calling people idiots, and I don’t see that guy climbing the ranks at Comedy Central.
But viral videos have become one of the things that determines ratings.  It’s the assurance that says, “Hey, this person’s consistently funny, you keep seeing them all around Twitter, don’t forget they’re still here.”  And I eventually remembered Jon Oliver, and I’m gonna throw Samantha Bee on the DVR after I finish this, but Larry Wilmore?
I won’t get the chance, now. ‘Cause I didn’t see you on Facebook enough.
Sorry, Larry.
(Though honestly, I’m hoping Jessica Williams gets her own show soon.  I wonder what her virality would be.)

All Comments Will Be Moderated. Comments From Fake Or Throwaway Accounts Will Never Be approved.