While the President's Away, the Publisher Will Play at Atlantic Soirée

Larry Wilmore and Ta-Nehisi Coates Talk Race and Humor

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Larry Wilmore, comedian, producer and Senior Black Correspondent for "The Daily Show," related a story that might sound familiar to some in the ad industry. When working on black sitcoms, he was asked sometimes if he had any black writers on them. "There's no problem getting black writers on black shows!" he exclaimed. "It's the other shows you have to worry about."

Larry Wilmore
Larry Wilmore
Wilmore, who is also the author of the absolutely hilarious "I'd Rather We Got Casinos," was speaking with author and Atlantic correspondent Ta-Nehisi Coates as part of a dinner/cocktail series being held at the home of Atlantic President Justin Smith in downtown Manhattan.

Among those in attendance to hear the two talk about race and humor were: novelist Walter Mosley, critic Stanley Crouch, former NYC Public Advocate Mark Green, New York 1 anchor Pat Keirnan, Gawker writer Hamilton Nolan, journalist Deroy Murdoch and a heaping helping of other media folk, including Mediaite's Rachel Sklar and Glynnis MacNicol.

Everyone, that is, except Justin Smith, who was stuck at the Atlantic's D.C. office. As Atlantic Publisher Jay Lauf said during his introduction, it felt like we were partying while the parents were out of town.

And then someone accidentally broke a glass. (Seriously.)

But back to Wilmore's comments, which struck me as a parallel to some of the things in the ad space. He went on to say that the world of sitcom writing can still seem black and white, and it makes little sense that more African-Americans aren't making it onto "general market" sitcoms. Out of necessity, African-Americans "know more about the bigger culture than the white culture knows about black culture," he pointed out.

Missing from the talk? Angry outbursts and overly defensive responses!

Of course, that's pretty easy when the subject is humor and a comedian is at the helm. At one point, Walter Mosley tried to steer toward more serious waters with a question about why it's deemed OK in America to joke about prison rape.

To which Wilmore responded. "Rape? I must be at the wrong talk. I thought this was about race and humor, not rape and humor."

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