Late night laughs is Deadline’s weekly look at after dark jokes. We focus on the biggest topics in the late night world, the people who rock those shows, and the moments that go viral. Drop me a line at [email protected] with any advice or suggestions.
This week, we hear from Ziwe Fumudoh talking about her new Showtime series, her take on the state of satire and how she’s the latest figure to join the late-night ‘rebirth’. We also take a look at how Jimmy Kimmel Live Quietly climbs in ratings and hears Trevor Noah, who is set to take on a dual role with a new weekly show on Paramount + alongside his daily show.
ZIWE: Pushing the limits of the night
Ziwe Fumudoh is well versed in the late night world, having interned on The daily show and The Colbert report write about The Rundown with Robin Thede and Desus and Mero.
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She built on her YouTube series Baited last summer with a series of Instagram Live videos featuring questions like Alyssa Milano and Rose McGowan (sample question: “how many black friends do you have?”) and now presents her own TV show, Ziwe – from Showtime on May 8.
She calls her brand of comedy “offensive, explosive and satirical”. “I like to push the limits,” she says. “That’s what entertains me.”
Ziwe is certainly pushing the boundaries – joining a night world that is becoming more and more diverse with different points of view. Major shows on the network may still be hosted by white males, but on the fringes, especially on cable and streaming, there’s a freshness of vocals with likes of. Desus and Mero and The Amber Ruffin Show as well as an upcoming show on HBO with Sam Jay.
“I’m excited about the change in scenery because it means I have a TV show,” she told Deadline during Showtime’s TCA Virtual Press Tour. “It’s a privilege to be on the same airwaves as Desus and Mero, Sam Jay and Amber Ruffin. These are all people I admire and collaborate with. It’s gonna be really, really, really awesome. I actually think we’re in a rebirth, but don’t write this down because I’m saving it for my book.
The six-part series, which secured a direct order in October, will feature interviews, musical numbers, sketches, mock commercials, fieldwork and guest stars including Jane Krakowski, Christin Milioti, Jeremy O’Hara and Laura Benanti.
A trailer shown during the session highlighted the sketches, which echo her online racing bait videos, and jokes about a ‘on wheels’ game show with Rosa Parks.
“I’m not looking for controversy,” she said. “I would just like to say some really poignant things with my art. Maybe it’s controversial, but at the end of the day I’m trying to hit the powerful. Part of that is being responsible for my words and knowing when I might have missed the mark of certain jokes because I’m not perfect. I’m fallible, and part of that is being willing to take a risk. Because you can’t have a show that pushes the boundaries without reaching the edge. Sometimes I’ll go, and sometimes I’ll go up the line. And I think the goal is not to exceed too much. “
Ziwe herself presents her eponymous show with Jamund Washington (HBO’s Random acts of theft) defined as head writer and executive producer. Hunter Speese, who worked with Ziwe on Desus and Mero, also performs the show produced by A24 with a writers’ room composed of Cole Escola (At home with Amy Sedaris), Jordan Mendoza (Cry Battle) and Michelle Davis.
“It’s a very small team, but even though we’re small, we’re powerful in intelligence,” she says. “I’ve been performing in New York City since 2015 and all of my writers are both writers and performers, whom I worked with in that capacity before COVID.”
Ziwe says the current state of satire is a “mixed bag.” “Much of the satire is terrible, and it misses the point, which is to target the people in power and undermine them every turn. Sometimes it’s not clear, and that’s where the satire goes wrong, ”she adds. “Conversely, sometimes the satire is really great. I interned at The Onion and would write jokes for The Onion for years and see how popular The Onion is, it’s really encouraging, because I think a lot of the writing that ‘they do is really, really important and good and fun. Ultimately, the problem with satirical writers is that they’re never treated like rock stars. It wasn’t like Jonathan Swift was the hottest guy in the neighborhood.
She adds that satire is also often used to mask more nefarious meanings. “Sometimes when people say things are racist and [then] be accused of racism, they will [say] “Oh, that was satire.” I think people don’t know what the word satire means. Hot grip. Just throw that out there.
Famous directly, Ziwe says she is keen to analyze the gulf between what people say and what they mean, especially when it comes to race, current social situation and events such as History Month. blacks.
“It sounds like lip service, when you get a rep known to be racist, tweeting, ‘Love MLK #truelove.’ It’s like cognitive dissonance. I just ingested it all and then I do the show and recognize that some people get the job done because they generally want to be better people and feel like they have benefited from white supremacy or racism and want to go back in time. and reverse those perks, and then other people are doing it because it’s cool right now. Both perspectives exist and I love to analyze that.
On top of all that, she wants to make people laugh and joke: “I want to be a riddle”.
JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE: QUIET FITTING IN NOTATIONS
Much has been done over the years of the rating battle between The late show and Tonight’s show and rightly so, there has been an interesting tug of war that goes back to the Leno and Letterman days.
However, while many have speculated whether Tonight’s Show with Jimmy Fallon can fill the gap with The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Kimmel Live! goes quietly about his business and works quite well.
In fact, the ABC series increased its viewership for the fourth week in a row and last week posted its most-watched week of the season and its best 18-49 demo performance in over four months.
He was helped by Colbert and Fallon being on hiatus, but over the past three weeks they’ve run into a solid guest list on CBS and NBC.
During the week of February 15, JKL increased its audience by 13% of total viewers – from 1.63M to 1.84M, using ratings from Nielsen Live + Same Day. During the week of February 8, when Colbert had the likes of Kristen Wiig and Queen Latifah and Fallon had the likes of Dwayne Johnson and Keenan Thompson, Kimmel, helped by Kevin James and Mila Kunis, increased his total audience by 9% and was up 7% in the demo.
It looks like the summers – which Kimmel got as part of his 2019 expansion – have paid off for the comedian.
Kimmel is under contract until 2022, which would see him through 20 seasons. Speaking to Deadline in 2019, he admitted he was “seriously considering” leaving the late-night show before the channel felt “appreciated.” I imagine that on the strength of the last few weeks, the Disney machine will be looking for new ways to make it feel valued to keep it going beyond 20 years.
TREVOR NOAH GOES WEEKLY AND DAILY
Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, Trevor Noah has spread The daily show from half an hour to 45 minutes, started planning an hour-long show, agreed to host the Grammys and set up an animated feature film in Paramount – all from his own home.
So it makes sense for the comedian to add another project to his day – a weekly show for Paramount +.
The weekly show with Trevor Noah (w / t) will see him animate and produce a six-episode series examining stories across the media landscape.
Appearing at ViacomCBS’s Paramount + launch event, Noah joked about launching and then shutting down his own streaming service Trevor +. Considering its workload, this is not a leap forward in our new digital environment.
“Every week I’m going to talk with the people behind these stories, the people you know, the people you don’t know and the people you didn’t even know you didn’t know, you know?” he said before realizing that if he does both The daily show and The weekly show he’d better leave the three-hour presentation and get back to work.