Nightly Show Host Larry Wilmore on the Difference Between Trolling and Lurking

Plus, how he feels about satirizing this election season


Specs
Age 54
Claim to fame Host of Comedy Central's The Nightly Show With Larry Wilmore (Mon.-Thurs., 11:30 p.m.)
Base New York
Twitter @LarryWilmore

Adweek: What's the first information you consume in the morning?
Larry Wilmore: I'm very scatterbrained, so I do several things at once. I usually toggle between three different shows—Morning Joe, CBS Morning News and CNN—to kind of get a lay of the land. While I'm doing that I have The New York Times here and I'm looking online. If it's the political season, sometimes I'll be on Politico or that kind of thing.

Tell us about your social media habits.
I'm kind of a troller more than anything else. I'll troll a little bit of Facebook; I'll do a little bit of trolling on Twitter.

I assume you mean "trolling" in the lurking sense.
Oh! I mean lurking. I shouldn't say trolling. Boy, "Larry Wilmore trolls people," that's horrible [laughs]. I'm a creepy lurker is what I actually am [laughs]. I like to see what people are talking about, like if people are getting upset about something, especially when it's something silly. That makes me laugh. As for my personal interests, I love going on Gizmodo and seeing what's making the tech people upset.

Where do you lurk? Twitter, Instagram?
In terms of platforms, I'd say Twitter and Facebook mostly, and occasionally Instagram.

What's your favorite app?
Word Warp is a game I play all the time. It's kind of a mindless exercise where you're trying to figure out as many words as you can. I'm not really a crusher of candy; I'm more of an unjumbler of words.

Are you a podcast person?
I listen to a couple of them. My favorite one is The Tech Guy with Leo Laporte. I've listened to it for years.

What are your favorite TV shows?
I don't get a chance to watch a lot of TV, unfortunately. It's mostly news or sports. I think the last thing I really watched was House of Cards or the last season of Mad Men. There's just no time, to be honest with you.

What's on your reading list?
I usually have three or four books in rotation. What happens is that I get about halfway through, and I get ADD and pick up something else. The main one that I'm reading right now—I read more nonfiction than fiction—is a book about the Lufthansa heist and it's fascinating. But once again, I got through half of it and put it down a few weeks ago. I've been meaning to start The Martian. There are a few books that have been hanging out saying, "When do I get a turn?" I've had John Meacham's Jefferson book [Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power] for so long. It's just looking at me like, "Larry, seriously, why am I on your book stand?" I love historical biographies.

In terms of the show and political satire, this election season is probably pretty fun for you guys.
Absolutely.

But how do you feel about it personally?
Well, it's fun and horrifying at the same time. It really is like seeing a car crash. You can't stop looking at it, but you know someone is maybe dead in there. And I'm complicit because I'm making jokes about it, so it's almost like, "Am I adding fuel to this?" I don't know.

What did you think of the reaction to that infamous Vanity Fair photo of all the late-night hosts, yourself included?
I thought it was appropriate. [Samantha] Bee's reaction, if that's what you're talking about, was completely appropriate. She's a good friend and I completely agree with that. She's had a show in the works that everyone knew about and she absolutely should've been included in that.

Any guests you want to have on?
It's hard to say because our show isn't really an interview show but a discussion show … President Obama—we're trying to find a way to get him on the show, and I'd love to have him on before he leaves office. So, that's probably my biggest thing right now.

You should say to him, 'You did a podcast [WTF with Marc Maron] in a garage, so … '
Thank you. Yes. And he talked to that YouTube woman who was in the bathtub with the Fruit Loops [GoZell]! Like, 'You did that interview, you did Between Two Ferns, Mr. President! Help a brother out over here on TV!'

This story first appeared in the Nov. 30 issue of Adweek magazine. Click here to subscribe.