W. Kamau Bell kicks off daily show Wednesday on FXX
By LORI RACKL TV Critic September 3, 2013 6:44PM
"Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell" fans can watch it five nights a week on FXX.
Chicago native W. Kamau Bell’s late-night talk show returns Wednesday on a new cable network, FXX, and in a new format, airing at 10 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays with best-of “mix tape” episodes on Sundays.
Taking his outspoken, half-hour comedy chatfest about race, religion, politics and pop culture from once a week to five times a week is scary — and that’s a good thing, as far as Bell is concerned.
“Fear is the engine that keeps me going forward,” the standup comic said. “Whenever I feel totally confident, things go really badly.”
“Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell,” which counts Chris Rock among its executive producers, debuted around this time last year. Shot live-to-tape in New York City, it features a little bit of everything, from sketch comedy and taped segments to guest interviews and Bell’s commentary, often racially-driven.
“I sort of dug into being ‘racism guy,’ which sounds like a really bad superhero,” said Bell, who spent a big chunk of his childhood in Hyde Park. The University of Chicago Laboratory School grad dropped out of University of Pennsylvania and moved back to Chicago, where he studied at Second City.
“The worst thing a white person can say to a person of color is, ‘I don’t think that’s racist,’ Bell said. “You can have an opinion, but you can’t have the final word, you know? White people, you’ve got a lot of jobs. You can’t always have the ‘knowing what’s racism’ job. Knowing what’s imperialism — that’s a good one.”
When it comes to the race debate, Bell is just as quick to take jabs at fellow African-Americans. He points to LL Cool J’s controversial collaboration with country singer Brad Paisley on the song “Accidental Racist” as the moment he knew the rapper/actor was “officially rich and out of the mix.”
“You are more green than you are brown,” Bell said, adding that he felt the same way about Charles Barkley after his defense of the Trayvon Martin verdict.
“Ironically, that’s the goal for me: to be more rich than black,” he said with a laugh.
Another black comic is about to go up against Bell in the same TV timeslot. After a nearly 20 year absence, Arsenio Hall makes his return to late-night Monday on WGN-Channel 9.
“I’m so happy Arsenio is coming back,” Bell said. “He gets to take all of that black guy and late-night heat that I felt like I was taking.”