Larry Willmore visits Villanova

Erin Reback

Larry Wilmore, famed Senior Black Correspondent of “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” kicked off the Communication and Power lecture series on Oct. 7.

Wilmore spoke about comedy’s impact on news and politics in today’s world.The department of communication chose Wilmore because of his popularity and humor. “The best comedy is unflinchingly honest,” said Bryan Crable, chairperson of the communication department.

During the lecture, Wilmore gave a personal account of his career and his experiences in show business. He also detailed the roles race, politics and morals have played in his personal life. All was done with quick wit; no more than two minutes went by without a hardy laugh from the audience.

Wilmore graduated from college with a degree in theatre and immediately began working as a stand-up comedian. He found himself frustrated with stand-up comedy, however.

“I didn’t feel like I matched with the times,” he said. Wilmore said he then had an epiphany and took more control of his career.

“I learned how to write and produce,” he said. In the 1980s, he began work on the popular TV show “In Living Color.”Wilmore said he soon had a second epiphany.

“I wanted to say what I thought about culture and values,” he said. With this, Wilmore created his own claymation sitcom with Eddie Murphy, “The PJs.”

Described as a show with “black ‘Simpsons’ characters,” the show earned Wilmore a lot of criticism from the black community for the show’s themes. Wilmore found humor in the criticism, however.

“I thought it was odd to have to defend puppets to NAACP,” he said.

When asked if he thinks his jokes enforce stereotypes, Wilmore quickly defended himself.

“The way I write is just the way my mind works,” he said. “Being funny is more important to me than being politically correct. I’d rather someone hate what I do than be indifferent.”

After “The PJs,” Wilmore wanted to write a comedic sitcom. Soon, “The Bernie Mac Show” was born.

“It was a show not about race but family,” Wilmore said. Not everyone involved felt his sentiments, however. FOX disagreed with some of Wilmore’s casting (indirectly saying the eldest daughter on the show was “too dark”) and the show to be shot in front of a live audience instead of with a single camera.FOX eventually fired Wilmore, citing creative differences.

“I was creative, and they were different,” he said with a laugh. “I believed in the show, so it was worth it.”

Wilmore said he finally found his calling when he began working on “The Office” and “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.” “I get to use all my experience on ‘The Daily Show,'” he said.

Wilmore’s most famous for playing the Senior Black Correspondent opposite Stewart. With the election approaching, Wilmore has been incredibly busy, creating skits and jokes touching on race, age and gender.

“I like to be contrary, to do the unexpected,” he said. “I like to be non-PC because it makes people think.”

Of these people, Wilmore said he believes younger generations take the most away from his work. Wilmore said he believes young people, such as Villanova students, get their news from series like “The Daily Show.”

“It’s about convenience,” he said. “Network news is fake, and comedy is real.”

Wilmore is currently developing a sitcom with HBO and has a book scheduled for release in early 2009.