Brito tells the Voice, "Getting different voices in the writers' room brings value because we all bring perspectives and voices you rarely see in media. And all of it presented by a 6-foot-4 black man from San Francisco. I mean, c'mon, you can't get more diverse and progressive than that."

Some of the pitches resemble the ones a newspaper editor might receive from muckraking reporters: real-world injustices and outrages, all quickly run through. One writer reads from a conservative pamphlet detailing how Republicans should not talk about immigration. Another proposes that the show parody the loyalty oaths an Arizona high school was forcing upon students: "We could have a Totally Biased disloyalty oath, the thing you make everyone say before every show. Like, we have to question everything—"

The idea is met with silence—it's a little too Democracy NOW!.

Christopher Farber
Totally Biased writers Aparna Nancherla, Guy Branum, Bell, Kevin Kataoka, Hari Kondabolu, and Janine Brito
Christopher Farber
Totally Biased writers Aparna Nancherla, Guy Branum, Bell, Kevin Kataoka, Hari Kondabolu, and Janine Brito

"Of course, we'd make it funny," the writer adds before dropping it.

Obama's push for gun reform is in the news. Someone says, "Maybe we could send Kamau out for a man-on-the-street with an assault rifle around his neck."

"Is that legal?" Bell asks.

"We'd find out in a hurry."

Nancherla asks if anyone saw the joint interview Obama and Hillary Clinton gave on 60 Minutes. "That just reminded me of the old couples that got interviewed in When Harry Met Sally," Bell says. "They were like, 'Oh, no, dear, you tell that part.'"

That gets laughs.

"'When Barry Met Hilly,'" a writer suggests.

"That's a classic movie, right?" Bell asks. "People have seen that? How do we make that into a thing?"

He gets many answers: "You could just show the clip and go into a run." "We could work in 'I'll have what she's having.'" "Make it 'I'll have what Bill's having."

A couple of pitches break through: "The Lighter Side of the Darker Side," a possible recurring segment finding reason for hope in news items, inspired by the fact that Chris Brown's fistfight with Frank Ocean apparently had nothing to do with Frank Ocean's gayness.

Or Kennedy's proposal for "A History of Black Names."

"Black people make up names, like they've always had to make things up," Kennedy says, in the same commanding tones that distinguish his stand-up—he sounds like the world's most stentorian African-American studies professor gone utterly mad. "We made up jazz. And blues. And rock. And when you make a lot of things up, sometimes you're going to miss."

Laughter.

"You know: Kwabanjanee."

More laughter.

A white writer asks, "When did black people start making up names?"

"That started with 'Get on the boat,'" Kennedy says.

The room explodes.

"It started with 'free trip to America.'"

Kennedy did the bit on the air a few days later. It was beefed up: "Not only is Shiraz a fine dinner wine, she's also a very nice lady who works at the Shop 'n Save near my crib." It was also impassioned, even touching, a celebration of inventiveness and self-definition, of the way African-Americans had to create their own culture—as with "Sheiks vs. Sikhs," Totally Biased dared to be enlightening. It's purposeful comedy unlike most of TV, some tricky alchemy of outrage into laughter and then maybe into something more profound. These folks are making it up as they go along. They've got 26 weeks' worth of episodes to figure it out.

Bell seems upbeat despite the pressure. "Sometimes I think, if this doesn't go on, at least we'll be written up in some grad school papers."

'Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell' airs Monday through Thursday at 11 p.m. on Fox's new FXX channel. A highlights roundup runs each Sunday.

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7 comments
sarah.robinson550
sarah.robinson550

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Binkconn
Binkconn

Bell just seems like some Oreo hipster. Not funny, just safe and good-natured.

rajavekedoby
rajavekedoby

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jsklutt
jsklutt

The Daily Show, Colbert, Real Time with Bill Maher, Totally Biased W. Kamau Bell, how many more comedy shows with the same purpose are we going to have? Every single one serves as a progressive circle jerk. 

We get it, progressives are tolerant, brilliant, sarcastic, compassionate people. Those who aren't progressive are racist, hateful, ignorant, evil, hypocrites. Why must this message be drove home on each and every new comedy show? Do people really find these same repackaged political jokes this entertaining every single time? 

"har har, you thought you weren't racist, but it turns out, you totally are!" 

"ha ha ha white people sure are ignorant!"

"lololol look how stupid and backwords the south us!" 

"lmao these people actually believe in religion!!! They are so mentally beneath us!" 


jsklutt
jsklutt

The Daily Show, Colbert, Real Time with Bill Maher, Totally Biased W. Kamau Bell, how many more comedy shows with the same purpose are we going to have? Every single one serves as a progressive circle jerk. 

We get it, progressives are tolerant, brilliant, sarcastic, compassionate people. Those who aren't progressive are racist, hateful, ignorant, evil, hypocrites. Why must this message be drove home on each and every new comedy show? Do people really find these same repackaged political jokes this entertaining every single time? 

"har har, you thought you weren't racist, but it turns out, you totally are!" 

"ha ha ha white people sure are ignorant!"

"lololol look how stupid and backwords the south us!" 

"lmao these people actually believe in religion!!!" 


nweastcoaster
nweastcoaster

He may be safe and good-natured, but but accusing Bell of being an Oreo is simplistic and borderline racist:  In the eyes of some ignorant americans, it appears that every African American who doesn't fit into the cookie cutter of stereotypes and or norms of African Americans, is an Oreo.  Some AA's just like some white people are "individuals" who do their own thing outside of the box.

TheDD
TheDD

@jsklutt Nobody on TV or in the media tells the truth about race in America like WK Bell and his show. i bet you never go around asking if Fox really NEEDS the O'Reilly show AND the Hannity show, do you?

 

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