Robin Thede Debuts to Strong Critical Reviews on BET Late Night

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

Robin Thede stepped onto the late-night television stage on BET last night, filling an enormous hole by becoming the only black woman in a genre dominated by white men.

And she was fantastic.

With a GIF attack on Donald Trump, a pop-up concert in a bodega, and funny takes on topics ranging from Eminem to the NFL, Thede announced herself with a fluid, punchy half hour that critics loved.

“Thede is charismatic, funny, and unabashed in her beliefs,” wrote John Hugar in Splitsider

Indeed, the Chris Rock-produced show is hilarious. Thede, the former head writer for Comedy Central’s Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore, opened with a ridiculous skit in which she attempts to seduce an attractive Trump supporter with increasingly absurd props, from a Make America Great Again hat to a Confederate flag tattoo.

Watch:

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Klepper’s Fake Fake News Show Debuts Strong As Comedy Central Sees Quarterly Ratings Rise

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

NEW YORK, NY – SEPTEMBER 25: Comedian Jordan Klepper hosts the premiere of Comedy Central’s “The Opposition w/ Jordan Klepper” on September 25, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Brad Barket/Getty Images for Comedy Central)

Alarmed, self-satisfied, and wielding the confabulating vocabulary of the ever-growing alt-right pseudo-news complex, The Opposition w/ Jordan Klepper came burning out of its Midtown Manhattan bunker with a week one ratings victory.

Viewers eager to, as Klepper promised, “only hear from others what you’ve already been telling yourself,” drove ratings up 43 percent among total viewers compared to the same timeslot a year ago. The show, which follows The Daily Show with Trevor Noah Monday through Thursday on Comedy Central, averaged 683,000 total viewers in its first full week.

Since that strong debut, Klepper’s conspiracy-laced satire has continued honing its deft assault on the insipid fever dreams masquerading as news on Infowars.com, Breitbart News Network, and similar outlets. And like Stephen Colbert on Comedy Central’s long-running The Colbert Report before him, Klepper is spot-on lampooning his subjects by adopting their personas.

In the aftermath of last week’s mass shooting in Las Vegas, with Alex Jones busy papering together a schizophrenic collage assigning responsibility for the carnage to a vast deep state conspiracy, an alarmed Klepper reminds us that, “… the mainstream media is wasting our time conducting interviews, verifying sources, and trying to assemble an ‘accurate picture of the suspect’s background.’ Meanwhile, brave online truth-tellers like Infowars and Gateway Pundit are getting to these answers first. They get to their answers so fast, sometimes it feels like they didn’t even have time to think about them.”

Watch:

Flanked by a coterie of absurd citizen journalists, Klepper is pulling off his fake fake news show with a consistency that has impressed critics.

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BET Introduces Robin Thede, Late Night’s Only Black, Female Host

Robin Thede earned her first writing credit at the 2014 BET Awards, crafting jokes for show host Chris Rock. The gig sparked a fast-paced career in the entertainment industry—a career marked by firsts.

As head writer for Comedy Central’s Nightly Show starting in 2015, she became the first black woman to hold that position for any late-night show. One year later, Thede became the first black woman to serve as head writer for the 2016 White House Press Correspondence Dinner.

Now, Thede has come back to BET. This time, as the host of her own show: The Rundown With Robin Thede, where she’ll reunite with Rock, an executive producer for the program.

She’ll also be the only late-night host currently on air who is black and female.

“It’s a quality that Ms. Thede knows will immediately set her apart from her many competitors,” wrote Dave Itzkoff in The New York Times.

Thede’s “Who Dis?” segment on The Nightly Show was a hit with viewers.

Thede’s irreverent comedic style is a natural fit for late-night, the programming block characterized by acerbic hosts and borderline-offensive skits.

“I purposely put my name in the title so no one can replace me,” Thede quipped in an interview with Essence.

Watch the trailer:

The Rundown will be Thede’s chance to share her charismatic and hilarious style with a wider audience, who may not be familiar with her as a TV personality (although viewers will recognize her humor if they’ve watched any of the daytime, late-night and scripted TV shows where she’s credited as a writer.

“Some people only know me as a comedian, and some people only know me as a writer,” Thede told Variety. “This show blends field and studio comedy and plays to my strengths as a writer and performer. I want to create a (show) that is unlike anything else on the market.”

BET has the same goal. Connie Orlando, BET’s head of programming, told The New York Times that the network was looking to shake up its programming with late-night comedy.

“It was something that made sense for the direction we’re going in,” said Orlando. “We realized our real prime time starts at 10, and our audience loves to laugh. It felt like the perfect moment to add the voice of an African-American female to the conversation.” Orlando also believes the show has potential to go viral and reach viewers outside BET’s demographic.

How? Late-night talk shows are fueled by current events, relying on the daily news cycle for their commentary. Race relations and women’s issues heavily focused on. Thede is in a unique position as a black woman to provide commentary on these topics from her own experience—adding a level of genuine credibility to the late-night set that, until now, hasn’t existed for black female viewers.

In an interview with The New York Times, Thede predicted this credibility would help her show gain traction. “I’m speaking to stories that matter to us,” said Thede, referring to black women. Members of her community will tune in to “to get an authentic opinion about stories they’re not going to hear anywhere else.”

But The Rundown has great potential to engage viewers from every demographic, according to Orlando.

“The show’s going to cover anything from Cardi B to what’s happening in the White House,” Orlando told The New York Times. “I think all kinds of audiences will be interested to know and listen to what Robin has to say.”


Thede and her team have made it clear that their show will embody diversity behind the scenes, as well, with a staff comprised of women, people of color, and LGBT individuals.

The late night is about to wake up.

The Rundown With Robin Thede airs Thursday, October 13 at 11 p.m. on BET.

#Farewell @midnight

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

Comedy Central’s @midnight – which aired its final episode last Friday – had a nearly impossible premise: define the indefinable by corralling the social media mosh pit that the internet has become into something graspable and tangible. But for four years and 600 episodes, Chris Hardwick and an ever-shuffling crew of established and up-and-coming comedians did an admirable job of doing exactly that.

“Nothing else on television today has done as much to showcase the humor and improvisational abilities of stand-up comics and comedic actors. In fact, nothing else in the modern peak TV era has replicated what The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson did for comedy.” – Andrew Husband, Uproxx

The format was simple enough: each night, a panel of three comedians competed gameshow-style to contemplate internet-inspired queries in a sort of freestyle inverse Jeopardy, where there were no right answers, only clever ones.

What, for example, would be the most appropriate way to join the Koch Brothers’ celebration of fossil fuels for Earth Day? What would be an ironclad commandment for a theoretical Star Wars religion? If Pitbull ran for governor of Florida, what would his campaign slogan be? What, you are probably wondering, would be the advantages of global warming? Arden Myrin, Orlando Jones and Nimesh Patel have their ideas on that one:

The cornerstone of the show, of course, was #HashtagWars, the recurring segment that unleashed bizarre and – for the uninitiated – inexplicable trending Twitter threads every weeknight the show aired. In the final episode, Hardwick himself swerved into button-slamming mode, jumping in as a contestant for the first time in the show’s history, riffing on #BabyMovies, #DeadTV, #StonerBroadway, #AnimalMovies, #DrunkVideoGames and other topics among a rotating power panel of biting comics:

For this raucous, inspired and highly original platform, the show won two Emmys – for Outstanding Creative Achievement in Interactive Media Social TV Experience – in both 2015 and ’16, as well as copious praise from critics, who lauded the show’s role as a pipeline for emerging comedic talent.

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Jim Jefferies Thinks We Can All Do Better

I became familiar with Australian comedian Jim Jefferies after a college roommate showed me his now infamous 15-minute-long diatribe on gun control. It was a sarcastic, evidence-laden lecture teasing Americans for our wanton adoration of firearms.

“I am all for your Second Amendment rights,” said Jefferies. “I think you should be able to have guns – it’s in your Constitution. What I am not for is bullshit arguments and lies. There is one argument and one argument alone for having guns: F&%k off – I like guns! It’s not the best argument, but it’s all you’ve got.”

The New Yorker praised his “brilliant, hilarious, and astonishingly complete discussion” of the gun control debacle. Even pro-gun commentator Dan Zimmerman admitted, “This is best summary of the gun control lobby’s arguments that I have ever heard.”

GIF courtesy of Tumblr user Alan Macraffen.

GIF courtesy of Tumblr user Alan Macraffen.

Material like that propelled Jeffries career forward, and he is now part of Comedy Central’s stellar late-night roster, sitting behind the desk of The Jim Jefferies Show. Jefferies quips about politics, creates outlandish stunts and uses a mashup of news clips to highlight the ridiculous, repetitive buzzwords in mainstream news reports. One hilarious montage showed multiple news sources calling the GOP health bill “secretive,” leading to Jefferies’ astute conclusion that the bill is akin to the self-help pseudo-scientific book, The Secret.

Watch a clip:

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The Daily Show Hosts Pop Up Art Exhibit to Honor the Commander in Tweet

Lines stretched for blocks in Midtown Manhattan near Trump Tower last weekend, but not for a protest. Instead, tourists and locals converged just down the road to see The Daily Show’s homage to the self-proclaimed “Ernest Hemingway of a hundred and forty characters,” the man known as @RealDonaldTrump.

The Daily Show Presents: The Donald J. Trump Presidential Twitter Library was a pop-up showcase with free admission.

“Say what you want about Donald Trump,” Noah told reporters as the exhibit opened. “He may not be good at presidenting, or leading, or geo-politics. But he is a damn fine tweet-er.”

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Jordan Klepper to Follow Trevor Noah with Late-Night Show of His Own

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

Comedy Central is rolling in late night. Trevor Noah’s ratings are scorching hot and new weekly shows are coming from (fake) Donald Trump and real Jim Jeffries.

And the lineup is about to get even better, with the advent of a new late-night talk show starring Jordan Klepper. A longtime correspondent on The Daily Show – which the yet-to-be-named program will follow on weeknights – Klepper will bring his energetic wit and droll skepticism to his own platform.

Check him out as he tries to become the mythic “good guy with a gun” that seems to be the NRA’s panacea to violent crime:

Watch part two here.

“Jordan’s talent has become so increasingly obvious it would take a real fool to not offer him this opportunity,” said Comedy Central President Kent Alterman.

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Fake Trump Dodges Real Media with Comedy Central Show of His Own

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

Comedy Central is on a sizzling late-night run, as The Daily Show with Trevor Noah knocked out its highest-rated and most-watched quarter ever for the first quarter of 2017. It is the number one daily late-night talk show among millennials and the only one of that group to increase year-over-year ratings and viewership.

There has been so much winning that the network has attracted the self-proclaimed winningest winner of all to late night: U.S. President Donald J. Trump.

via GIPHY

Well, sort of. Renowned Trump impersonator Anthony Atamanuik will helm The President Show, a weekly production that purports to be broadcast direct from the Oval Office, where the faux commander in chief can circumvent the crooked media’s fake news factories for straight Trump talk.

How good is Atamanuik-as-Trump? Pretty flawless:

“Laughing at the President is a proud American tradition and we hope not to disappoint anyone in that department,” said Atamanuik. “But our political system is too broken for us to be content joking about one man, even though he is a disastrous silly little toddler boy. Mostly I’d just like to thank Comedy Central for giving us this platform to speak truth to power and if we’re lucky, end up in prison!”

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Thank You, Jon

by Daina Amorosano, Viacom

Calling it an “absolute privilege” and the honor of his professional life, Jon Stewart closed out The Daily Show last night with news that he will be leaving the show by the end of the year. Here are his comments in their entirety, above, and Comedy Central’s official statement, below: Read More