President Barack Obama’s performance at the 2016 White House Correspondents’ Dinner was the highlight of the night, but master of ceremonies Larry Wilmore’s second fiddle turned several heads when The Nightly Show host dropped a colloquial N-word on the outgoing president. Wilmore defended his use of the word, which produced more gasps of shocked silence than laughs at the annual event, but what irked fellow comedian W. Kamau Bell the most were all the jokes about his new cable news home, CNN. Don Lemon didn’t seem to mind, at least, but Bell — whose acclaimed new series, United Shades of America premiered the previous weekend on Ted Turner’s cable news brainchild — did.
Bell visited the Late Show with Stephen Colbert on Thursday to promote his new show, but segued into discussing Wilmore when Colbert asked him for his thoughts. Specifically, the talk-show host wanted to know what Bell thought about Wilmore’s use of the N-word and the resulting controversy:
“I like Larry Wilmore. I think he was playing to the people at home… I didn’t appreciate all the CNN jokes. That’s my new network. He said he ‘remembers when CNN used to be a news network,’ and I feel like that’s a shot at me. I just want to say, I remember when the show that followed The Daily Show used to be funny.”
The Late Show audience erupted into a chorus of uncomfortable laughter. To his credit, Colbert — whose Colbert Report followed The Daily Show before Wilmore’s program nabbed the slot — smiled for the camera and quipped back, “Tough Crowd with Colin Quinn was a very funny show!”
Sorry Stephen, but Quinn’s brief Comedy Central series wasn’t that funny — though it did gift us with the epic argument between newcomer Greg Giraldo and old hand Denis Leary.