When you’re a comedian, it’s easy to get caught up in the hype. After all, you’re in the midst of a career that involves working on shows like Desus & Mero and The Rundown With Robin Thede, so it’s no surprise that you’d become obsessed with becoming the next big thing on TV. But Ziwe Fumudoh is a writer and comedian who isn’t afraid to take things a step further. She’s a comedian specializing in uncomfortable interviews, and she uses Instagram live videos to make her point by skewering celebrities with questions about race and privilege.
The first season of her Showtime series was a lot of fun but had its share of cringe-inducing moments. For example, Ziwe’s interview with Rose McGowan — an actor and activist who made headlines when she tweeted that women shouldn’t be referred to as “women” if they’re using the n-word — was especially off-putting. McGowan got a bit too close to the fire, from her mispronunciation of Ziwe’s name to her explanation for her offensive tweet.
As a bonus, the series is also full of funny skits. One starring Ziwe’s friend, the climate activist Slim, is a particularly good, as are some of her parodies. The music videos are a welcome respite from the show’s more serious subjects.
While the show’s satirical tone and abrupt cuts often make it seem like it’s a fever dream, it’s a very real production. It’s all the more impressive when you consider that Ziwe is a woman who often wears over-the-top outfits — her hair pulled back and her makeup often a saturated pink hue — that can feel out of place on other daytime shows.
This season of the show is still a tad more over-the-top than the first. But the over-the-topness isn’t necessarily bad; it just makes the experience more genuine. Unlike most talk show hosts, who wear traditional suits to appear professional, Ziwe goes for over-the-top looks that authenticate her personality and make her more accessible.
In the process, she gets under the skin of her guests without allowing them to get away with their worst. It’s a skill that can only be taught, and Ziwe’s willingness to go after her interviewees makes it possible.
Despite the unintentional comedy, Ziwe isn’t shy about addressing social issues, from sexism to racism. She tries to make people think and learn, even if it sometimes unsettles them.
Her approach to comedy, however, is more than just a scathing tongue-in-cheek critique; she also strives to rewrite the rules of the genre. She says she doesn’t want her interviews to be “performance art.” Instead, she aims for them to serve as confrontational educations that can help viewers recognize and correct the biases that they might have.
You’ll love this series if you’re looking for an alternative to your usual late-night talk show. But be warned: it can quickly become a boring watch if you’re not up for the uncomfortable moments.