If you don’t know who comedian Ziwe Fumudoh is, now is the perfect time to familiarize yourself because the newest black woman of late night is a force to be reckoned with. The Desus & Mero protégée got one of her big breaks in the industry as a writer for their show. And now, she is setting late night ablaze with her very own variety show, aptly titled, Ziwe.
Fumudoh, along with Desus Nice and The Kid Mero, were on the cover of Deadline’s digital issue for June. As usual, the 29-year old breakout star was dropping gems, and even gave some insight into how her career in comedy came about.
Ziwe on landing the Chris Rock Internship at Comedy Central:
“I interned there for a week and I was such a chatty intern that I got a joke on the show,” she says. “I was introduced to The Colbert Report when I was 14 in high school and I remember thinking that he’s so rude and you can say anything if it’s a joke.”
On the shows she pulled inspiration from to develop her own late night talk show:
“I pull from CBS This Morning and The Oprah Winfrey Show and even a little bit of Ellen. You can really see that I’m satirizing the media at large because I’m so inspired by those shows.”
Ziwe on her first interview with Fran Lebowitz:
“It’s ridiculous to ask someone like Fran Lebowitz, who was friends with Toni Morrison, what is worse, slow walkers or racism. That’s a ridiculous question, but in that absurdity comes honesty because she’s thrown off guard and I don’t know if she’s going to lean into that question. I am constantly trying to combine high and low. You talk to Gloria Steinem one week and then you talk to a Bachelorette the next, but the Bachelorette is also a lawyer and her dad is a federal judge. Things are not as they seem.”
On how working on shows like The Run Down with Robin Thede and Desus & Mero helped land her a late night talk show:
“The show is an amalgamation of the creative that I’ve been doing for the last five to ten years,” she says. “[My] Instagram Live show blew up and all of a sudden I was the must-see television show on Instagram. With that in mind, I was able to sell a television show.”
Ziwe on how the set of the show was her way of redefining the definition and perception of femininity:
“The set feels like Barbie’s dream house and I have a strong POV,” she says. “Intentionally, I wanted to stand in contrast with the Jimmys and the Johns of late-night. So often, when I was aspiring to become a late-night host, you were nodded in the direction that smart women wear pants and glasses and blue and are very serious and femininity is not someone who is necessarily an intellectual. I really wanted to defy the idea of what it means to be an intellectual and a woman.”
On why it’s important to make light of tougher subjects, such as race:
“I am uncomfortable all the time talking about race. Since I was a kid people have been talking to me about race. I was in the mall and people are talking to me about the Black friends they have, and I thought, Who cares? Why are you bringing this up? All of these micro-scenarios that existed all of my life, I thought, What if there was a camera to see how stupid it was, how absurd these conversations were?”
On why she prefers to keep a bulk of her life private:
“I’d like it if you knew nothing about me. [Who is Ziwe]? Why do you care? I want to give people the tools to laugh and to think and give everything a critical eye including myself. Why is my favorite ice cream important?”