Totally Biased Host W. Kamau Bell on Taking His Show Daily: I'm Filled with Fear
"I'm filled with fear," Bell said at the Television Critics Association fall previews on Friday. "That fear is the engine that keeps me going forward."
Bell's talk show, which premiered last summer, is part of the new lineup launching FX's spin-off network, FXX. Each half-hour episode usually features an opening monologue, man-on-the-street pieces and celebrity interviews. Some of the past guests include Chris Rock, who's also an executive producer, Rachel Maddow, George Takei and Don Cheadle.
Although Bell will now be on nightly, he doesn't feel he's competing against late-night fixtures Jimmy Fallon and Jimmy Kimmel. "They're over [there] and we're driving our car over here. We're like a high-end local affairs show ... just the funniest one of those ever," he said. "We exist in our old own world and as a comic I existed in my own world. That's the way to make it -- sharpen your own voice not compete with others."
Bell also added that he's somewhat relieved that Arsenio Hall is returning to late night, if only to take some of the pressure off of his own show.
"I'm so happy Arsenio is coming back because he's taking all the black-guy heat I was taking," Bell said. "He's in that [late-night] tradition and will do the version of what people maybe thought I was going to do. But the ethos of Arsenio is in our show, unlocking the truth. Some of the courage of that comes from being inspired by Arsenio."
Ultimately, Bell is happy that the growth of his show has allowed him to triple the size of the production and add more collaborators.
"I'm not trying to be the United Colors of Benetton, but if something in the news happens with China I'd like a Chinese person to address it," he said. "There are a lot of discussions that need to happen and not necessarily by me. It's better to have the person who has a stake in the issue talk about the issue. Everything can't be your thing."
Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell returns on Wednesday, Sept. 4 at 11/10c on FXX.