10:22am PT by Lesley Goldberg
Chris Rock on 'SNL,' Hosting Late-Night and Mentoring W. Kamau Bell
Chris Rock and W. Kamau Bell spoke to critics Wednesday about lessons from the FX late-night talk show's first round of episodes and whether or not the stand-up comic/executive producer would want to head to broadcast to take over for one of the incumbent veterans.
Speaking to reporters at the Television Critics Association's winter press tour in Pasadena to promote the Jan. 17 return of Totally Biased With W. Kamau Bell, Bell noted having Rock along for the ride has helped him exponentially, calling him his "foul-mouthed Yoda."
"I don't think anybody is born to be a talk show host," Bell said -- with Rock interrupting to note perhaps Regis Philbin serves as the exception. "All talk-show hosts have a learning curve and I'm still in the middle of it. It's all a bunch of separate skills that no matter what you did before you have to pick them up. The hardest part is putting it all together. If it was all man on the street or interviews it'd be easy but the hard part is putting it all together."
With the next round of episodes starting next week, the series will make the change from half an hour to a full hour, with guests including George Takai, Whoopi Goldberg and Matt Taibbi, with Bell noting he'd love to have Rush Limbaugh on the show.
Asked whether he'd still like to take over a late-night broadcast talk show, i.e. Jay Leno or David Letterman, Rock said he didn't really still want the latter's job. "There's a part of me that wants to do it but I don't know if I could do it all the time," he said, comparing the effort to former NBA star Michael Jordan's ability to score 50 points one night but his unlikelihood to do it two nights in a row. "I just don't care about Lindsay Lohan -- but I want you [Bell] to care about it. To me, if this show is successful it'll be like The View and I'll be like Barbara Walters and I'll come in and do something funny and leave."
Saturday Night Live alum Rock also joked that he was a frequent visitor to the set -- to grab dinner when he's bouncing around comedy clubs solo -- and is a fan of Jay Pharoah. "I think he's funny and he's underused," he said of the actor behind SNL's President Obama. "It took him two years to play the black president? Seems odd."
Perhaps the funniest line of the panel came when Bell was asked what the W in his name stands for and quipped, "The W is Walter, which is my dad's name but Totally Biased With Walter Bell sounds like an insurance program."