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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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.

Chris Rock, 50 Cent, Wanda Sykes and More Top Talent Line Up with BET for Fall Programming

BET’s fall 2017 lineup is brimming with big-name talent both on and off screen – five new shows starring or produced by Chris Rock, 50 Cent, Wanda Sykes, Deon Cole, Tiffany Haddish, Robin Thede, Gucci Mane, Keyshia Ka’oir, George Lopez, DL Hughley, Cedric the Entertainer, Eddie Griffin, and the late Charlie Murphy.

Here’s a look at what to expect, and when:

Wednesday, September 27 – Face Value

This 30-minute game show has one purpose: break down stereotypes and prejudices through humor. Deon Cole will host alongside breakout star Tiffany Haddish, who will conduct woman-on-the-street segments to determine how society values outward appearances.

50 Central

Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson stars in BET’s first variety comedy showcase that includes hidden camera pranks, musical performances, and a wealth of celebrity guests. The hip-hop mainstay will take turns as actor, producer and emcee on the show.

Thursday, September 28 – The Rundown with Robin Thede

From executive producer Chris Rock, this new program diversifies  the talk show space with African-American female host Robin Thede. The 30-minute late night show will discuss politics and pop culture through sketches, social commentary and parodies.

Tuesday, October 10Tales

BET’s critically popular anthology series, which reimagines classic hip-hop records as love letters, will return with its fourth hour-long installment in October.

Thursday, Oct. 12 – The Comedy Get Down

George Lopez, DL Hughley, Cedric the Entertainer, Eddie Griffin and the late Charlie Murphy headline The Comedy Get Down tour – and now you have a backstage pass. The Comedy Get Down will be the first scripted comedy series to explore the five comedians’ offstage lives during their mammoth five-man tour.

Tuesday, October 17 – Gucci Mane and Keyshia Ka’oir: The Mane Event

Didn’t receive an invite to Gucci Mane & Keyshia Ka’oir’s wedding? BET has you covered. As the couple ties the knot on October 17, their 10-episode docuseries Gucci Mane and Keyshia Ka’oir: The Mane Event will also make its debut.

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Leslie Jones to Host Star-Laden 17th BET Awards

The 17th BET Awards will celebrate top music, television, sports and movie talent on Sunday, June 25.

Comedian and Saturday Night Live actress and writer Leslie Jones, host of the 2017 awards show, got her start on BET and can’t wait to return to honor some of entertainment’s hottest stars.

The BET Awards have become a cultural touchstone. Last year’s awards captivated audiences with mesmerizing performances and a tribute to Prince. One of the evening’s most moving moments came when Jesse Williams, Greys Anatomy star and civil rights activist, utilized his Humanitarian Award acceptance speech to address how the challenges of living in a racially prejudiced world impact the black community.

This year’s Humanitarian Award winner is Chance the Rapper, whom BET is honoring for his strides toward improving the lives of young black men, decreasing gun violence, and financially supporting Chicago Public Schools.

Another highlight of the show will be incredible performances by artists Bruno Mars, Future, Migos, Trey Songz, Tamar Braxton and more.

The BET Awards draws top names from across the entertainment landscape, and many of them will ascend the stage to present awards. Among the major names will be Yara Shahidi, Cardi B, Issa Rae, Jamie Foxx, La La Anthony, Trevor Noah, Robin Thede, Cari Champion and Demetrius Shipp Jr.

The nominees include some of the biggest names in entertainment.  Queen Bey (Beyoncé) will be continuing her highest total nomination streak with seven new nominations, including Best Female R&B/Pop Artist, Best Collaboration with Kendrick Lamar for Freedom, Video of the Year, and Album of the Year for Lemonade. Bruno Mars is nominated in five categories, including Album of the Year, Best Male R&B/Pop Artist, and Video of the Year. Chance the Rapper and Migos each clocked four nominations. Check out the full list of nominees below.

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