5:27pm PT by THR staff
Comedian W. Kamau Bell: It's Time for a Black Host in Late-Night Broadcast TV
Comedian W. Kamau Bell isn't happy about the state of late-night TV.
The comedian recently took to the Internet to express his disappointment about the lack of diversity among the talent as several late-night shows are getting (or have already gotten) new hosts.
"Every time a late-night job becomes available, people on social media and websites like this one get to play Fantasy TV Exec!" he wrote in an essay titled "The Unbearable Whiteness of Late Night" on BuzzFeed. "And we toss around overqualified, non-white guy candidates like Aisha Tyler, Maya Rudolph, Wayne Brady, Tina Fey, Margaret Cho, Ellen DeGeneres and Chris Rock. Occasionally, I even get thrown into the mix. And for a little while, it is exciting to think of the possibility of these shows … until we actually hear the announcement."
He went on to say that while he isn't criticizing the hosts themselves, he believes that there are many equally talented black personalities.
"Don't get me wrong. I'm super excited to see what Stephen Colbert does with The Late Show," he wrote."He's unquestionably a comedy genius. But you can't tell me that Wayne Brady wouldn't do as good a job as Jimmy Fallon."
Bell — who hosted his own late-night talk show, FXX's Totally Biased With W. Kamau Bell, from August 2012 to November 2013 — added that he thinks James Corden, the new host of CBS' The Late Late Show, will be "great."
"And even if Corden isn't great right away — and this is what usually separates white guys from the rest of us — he'll get a chance to work out the kinks and get it right," he wrote, arguing that Arsenio Hall wasn't given an entirely fair shot his first time in late night.
"The mainstream story is that with David Letterman moving to CBS, Arsenio was going to lose a gang of CBS affiliates that were airing his show, and he knew he wasn't going to be able to compete with Jay Leno and Dave," Bell wrote. "But the barbershop story is that once he interviewed the then-uber-controversial Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, advertisers left and 'THE MAN' canceled his show. Being simultaneously a black man and a person who had a short-lived late-night show, I tend to believe both."
He ended his essay by making a plea to viewers to "seek out those [diverse] voices and go meet them where they are," such as Tyler's podcast Girl on Guy or Netflix, new home of Chelsea Handler. He also issued a plea to such talent to continue looking for new ways to reach the audience via methods like the aforementioned.
"Late-night TV is big business and wants the biggest audience possible," he wrote. "And the people who run it believe they have evidence the biggest audience comes with a white guy. And it will probably remain that way … at least until 2042," the year it's predicted that the white majority in the U.S. will be outnumbered by Americans of other races.