‘Ziwe’ – Social media star brings offbeat show to pay cable

Say hello to 'Ziwe' on Showtime

“Ziwe” premieres Sunday on Showtime.

One look at the trailer for “Ziwe” will tell you this isn’t your average late-night variety show.

Premiering Sunday, May 9, on Showtime, the half-hour series puts the talents of the titular offbeat comic, writer and social media personality on display as she interviews guest stars, performs in sketches and musical segments and interacts with everyday people in scripted and unscripted scenes. She also gives her take on social issues, with her commentary often running toward race, politics and young adulthood.

Guest stars set to appear include actors Jane Krakowski, Laura Benanti and Jeremy O’Hara.

The series is an outgrowth of “Baited With Ziwe,” which premiered on YouTube in 2017 and moved to Instagram Live in 2020, in which she baited guests into making unwitting racial faux pas in an effort to spark a candid conversation about race.

“The difference between my Instagram Live show and my Showtime show,” explains Ziwe, who is also creator, writer and executive producer here, “I mean, definitely, a full-fledged production is going to be different than the Instagram Live show I shot on my bed. But I think you’re still going to feel the essences of what was so informative and entertaining about the Instagram Live (show), which was the honest conversations. We’re going to have live interviews as well … . So, you’re going to get that, hopefully, in full force, exactly.”

Though she’s relatively new as an on-camera presence, she has an impressive comedic resume behind it. She’s worked on “The Colbert Report” and “The Daily Show” and served as a writer for “The Rundown With Robin Thede,” “Our Cartoon President” and “Desus & Mero,” on which she still works. During college, she wrote for the news satire website The Onion.

Ultimately, Ziwe says that though she may be venturing into areas of controversy in this series, that is not what she is looking to create. Her goal, ultimately, is to “punch up at the powerful.”

“Offensive, bombastic, satirical – that’s my brand of comedy,” Ziwe says. “Intentionally, it will have more of a message than what a trailer can do in two minutes, but there’s more of a satirical point about why we’re making fun of these particular figures. But, yeah, always. Always. I like to push the boundaries. That’s what entertains me. So, I can only entertain myself in this process.”

George Dickie

George Dickie

George Dickie has been a features writer for Gracenote/Tribune Media Services since 1989, when “Hee-Haw” was still on the air and George “Goober” Lindsay was his first interview. His early interviews ranged from Jim Henson and Dick Van Dyke to Phil Collins and the Dixie Chicks.

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