Larry Wilmore has had a long career as a standup comic and writer/producer for shows like The Office and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, but his big breakout was as the “senior black correspondent” on The Daily Show. In January, he debuted as the host of Comedy Central’s The Nightly Show, which now fills Stephen Colbert’s vacated 11:30 p.m. slot. The show features Wilmore’s own daring, satirical take on news, and he is winning critical praise for his willingness to tackle controversial subjects such as racial stereotypes, wealth inequality, and Islamophobia.
We asked Wilmore how he stays focused and inspired. Here’s what he said:
Where or how do you seek out creative inspiration?
I don’t have any artificial way of getting inspired. My inspiration is my deadline, you know? Like people say, Larry, why do you write? And I say, because I have a deadline. And if I didn’t, I’d probably never get anything done. “You can’t reschedule Monday” is one of my sayings.
One of my biggest sources of inspiration is human behavior. I love human behavior, how people act and react and interact . . . that’s probably my chief source of inspiration.
What is one thing about your job that you think would surprise people?
That would surprise people? Probably just how involved it is, all day long. There’s no minute of rest all day long. There’s so many things you have to accomplish during the day in order to make the show, because there’s two big parts of it. The scripted, comedic part, and then the unscripted conversation. You have to be prepared for both of those. So it’s nonstop preparation. It’s not like you come in [stretching], like, Alllrighhtt . . . what time are we taping? Six? Okay, I’ll be back at 5:30. See you guys later, I’ll just make this shit up as I go.
What’s your favorite Twitter or Instagram account and why?
I wish I could answer that, but if I had time to have a favorite Twitter or Instagram account, I’d never get anything done.
This is my favorite tweet by far: Before we premiered, somebody said, “Larry Wilmore, I hope you and your shit show fails.” And I’m like, hold on a second, give me a chance to make my shit show first. I mean, they said this before we were even on the air! I’m like, are you kidding me? Criticism is hilarious to me–that I would be criticized before I was even on the show! I would never wish somebody would fail before I even saw it. [And] even if I didn’t like it, I wouldn’t say, “I hope it fails!” Why would someone hope that I fail? And then [feel the] need to tell me that, too. It was amazing to me.
What are some things you do to refresh your mind when you’re in a rut?
Who outside of your field inspires you the most and why?
I’m always inspired by the small stories I see about people who are doing the right thing with no attention given to it. I used to watch Charles Kuralt on CBS’s Sunday Morning show, and they used to have all those stories. Also, when I see people around the world in the most dire situations doing stuff. Malala [Yousafzai], what she went through . . . man, if you’re not inspired by that, there’s just something dead inside of you. What they have to face in that part of the world, it’s just ridiculous. And then on a personal level, my kids inspire me all the time.