Although it has been enjoyable having @midnight on a half hour earlier on Comedy Central's weeknight programming, it's time to get things back to normal. The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore is officially taking over the 11:30 pm time slot on Jan. 19 (The Colbert Report's old spot — *sniffle*), so will Wilmore play a fake character for The Nightly Show like the host of the former show did? Nope (sorry to those who really, really miss Colbert).
Wilmore, best known to the Comedy Central-watching world as the "Senior Black Correspondent" on The Daily Show will not be following in Stephen Colbert's shoes; The Nightly Show will feature Wilmore as Wilmore — no extreme caricature necessary. As Wilmore told the The New York Times, "I'm not just taking positions because they’re funny. What’s funny is generated from how I actually feel about something."
Wilmore's promos for The Nightly Show have him promising that the show is "like The Daily Show — but nightlier." So prepare for a show that is more Daily Show than Colbert Report. In an interview with New York Magazine, Wilmore said, "The fact of me being there sure makes it about race in some way, but that’s not what the show’s about. We’re not doing a race show or 30 minutes of Senior Black Correspondent. It is me doing a show the way Jon Stewart does his show."
As much as I love Colbert and his fake persona, I'm happy that Wilmore is staying true to himself. Obviously, it's a formula that works as Stewart has shown us. Just like Wilmore (who Stewart personally chose to replace Colbert), Colbert started as a correspondent on The Daily Show before doing The Colbert Report. Colbert was consistent with his outrageous character when delivering news between the two shows. So it makes sense that Wilmore keeps the character he has previously shown us on The Daily Show — himself.
Of course, this isn't CNN (which Stewart is very grateful for) — it's Comedy Central. So The Nightly Show will deliver the news with a comedic edge like its predecessor. According to The New York Times Wilmore's show's format will "regularly feature a panel discussion: a scripted comedy version of what is seen on Sunday-morning talk." Although the show will be fine-tuned as it goes, there will be "players" instead of "correspondents" (but will function very much like The Daily Show correspondents) and Wilmore will most likely start each show with a take on the news from behind his desk (à la Stewart and Colbert).
If the show seems like it may suffer from some sort of identity crisis, it's more that Wilmore is just open to being flexible. News shows and comedy depend on being able to change. As information comes in, our perception of the news changes; jokes sometimes land, sometimes don't. "The show is not going to look the same on Day 1 as it will on Day 10 or on Day 100," Comedy Central president Michele Ganeless told The New York Times. "It will continue to evolve."
And Wilmore and company showed they could already roll with the punches when the show changed its name. Originally, the show was called The Minority Report with Larry Wilmore, but when it was announced that a TV pilot based on the Steven Spielberg film The Minority Report was being planned, the showrunners decided to go in a different direction to minimize confusion. The New York Times reported that Wilmore considered Meet the Rest since he considers his show to be "a cousin of Meet the Press," but the name The Nightly Show won. (Particularly because it fits so well in between The Daily Show and @midnight, chronologically speaking.)
So The Nightly Show will be a change for Colbert fans, but it's a welcome one. And at the very least, @midnight can get back to its regularly scheduled time. It is in the damn name after all.