Larry Wilmore was born in Los Angeles on October 30, 1961. He left college to pursue an acting and stand-up comedy career, getting his start writing for TV. Early success allowed Wilmore to create his own shows, such as The PJs and The Bernie Mac Show, the latter earning Wilmore an Emmy award. In 2006, he joined The Daily Show as its "senior black correspondent," where the comedian became a national presence. When Stephen Colbert left Comedy Central for CBS, Wilmore filled the time slot with his own late-night talk show, The Nightly Show With Larry Wilmore.
Background and Early Career
Larry Wilmore was born in Los Angeles on October 30, 1961. He went on to attend Damien High School, an all-male Catholic school in La Verne, California, where he was his class’ president. After graduation, Wilmore went to California State Polytechnic University in Pomona, where he majored in theater. Before long, Wilmore dropped out to pursue acting and stand-up comedy.
Wilmore began his show-business career when he landed a writing job on the Rick Dees talk show Into the Night in 1990. The following year, Wilmore landed a writing gig on the comedy sketch show In Living Color, which would go on to become a huge success. (Besides launching Wilmore’s career, the show put actors Jim Carrey, Jamie Foxx and the Wayans brothers on the Hollywood map.)
Writing for In Living Color led to a string of writing credits for Wilmore, such as the comedy series Sister, Sister.
An Established TV Presence
In 1999, Wilmore created the first of his two shows: the animated comedy The PJs, which was co-created by and starred Eddie Murphy. The show found moderate success and ran for three seasons, but Wilmore would strike gold with his next creation, The Bernie Mac Show. Over its five seasons, Bernie Mac was nominated for an array of awards, among them two Golden Globe nods, with BET and Peabody wins. Wilmore specifically won a 2002 Emmy in the category of Outstanding Writer for a Comedy Series.
In addition to his writing credits, Wilmore produced several programs during the 1990s, including The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and The Jamie Foxx Show. Wilmore continued to produce more comedies, among The Office, making appearances on the latter show as well.
'Daily Show' and Beyond
In 2006, Wilmore stepped in front of the camera, when he became The Daily Show’s “senior black correspondent.” Reporting on news, society, pop culture and sports, Wilmore filtered it all through his own comedic lens and gained a steady following as a key cast member on the hit show.
While with The Daily Show, Wilmore began popping up in other acting roles, appearing in the film Dinner for Schmucks (2010) and in the TV series Love Bites (2011) and Happy Endings (2011). He has also had his own 2012 Showtime special, Larry Wilmore's Race, Religion, & Sex and authored the 2009 book I’d Rather We Got Casinos and Other Black Thoughts.
Wilmore also served as executive producer of the ABC sitcom Black-ish. In the spring of 2014, it was announced that the producer/actor would host his own show on Comedy Central, filling the time slot left vacant by Stephen Colbert when he left the network to host The Late Show with Stephen Colbert on CBS.
"I’m beyond excited to have this chance to continue my relationships with Comedy Central and the brilliant Jon Stewart," Wilmore said in a statement. "I love the city of New York and promise to only wear my Laker t-shirts when I’m layering."
Wilmore's show, produced by Jon Stewart's production company, premiered on January 19, 2015. While the show received critical praise for using comedy to confront difficult social issues involving race, class and gender, it struggled with ratings, and in August 2016 Comedy Central announced its cancellation. Wilmore addressed his audience about the news during a broadcast of the show.
“Our show was at its best when the news was at its worst,” Wilmore said, “and I am so proud that we were able to take on real issues and hopefully say something powerful while making people laugh on some very, very dark days. My only regret is that we won’t be around to cover this truly insane election season.”
He added a punchline: “Although on the plus side, our show going off the air means one thing—racism is solved! We did it! We did it!”
In an interview with New York magazine, Wilmore reacted to the show cancellation. “It's television, and it's how it gets measured — numbers,” he said. “It's very disappointing because you can only do the best show that you can do, and if the stars don't align, I can't argue back at them, saying, "No, you're wrong, the numbers are great." What can I really say? I'm not angry at them. I'm disappointed that it didn't work out well.”
Wilmore, who called his 2016 election coverage "Blacklash 2016: The Unblackening,” also said in a statement: “I’m really grateful to Comedy Central, Jon Stewart and our fans to have had this opportunity. But I’m also saddened and surprised we won’t be covering this crazy election or ‘The Unblackening’ as we’ve coined it. And keeping it 100, I guess I hadn’t counted on ‘The Unblackening’ happening to my time slot as well.”
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