Larry Wilmore is one of our best comedy voices we’ve got. The acclaimed writer/producer/performer has been an integral voice to influential works like The Bernie Mac Show, The Daily Show, Insecure, Black-ish, and of course, The Office. I’m excited Wilmore will be heading back in front of TV cameras on a regular basis (RIP The Nightly Show) in an upcoming topical Peacock comedy show, and I’m excited that, during a TCA panel about the upcoming show, he dropped some gems about one of his most iconic Office moments.
“Diversity Day,” episode two (two!) of season one (one!), is an out-of-the-gate, cringeworthy classic of the NBC sitcom. It dives into the problematic, offensive racial behaviors of Michael Scott (Steve Carell) and the need to try and address racism at a corporate culture level thanks to a diversity training seminar ran by Mr. Brown (Wilmore). There is some out-and-out wild shit in this episode; aired in 2005, I simply think there’s no way you air a show with a sympathetic white character dropping the N-bomb, doing an Indian accent, and making his employees wear different races in sticky notes on their foreheads in 2020. And Wilmore, in his TCA panel (which he, at points, moderated himself delightfully), tended to agree, while also getting into the role of comedy in an ever-changing society and some of the wildest “Diversity Day” outtakes we simply could not handle.
There’s no way “Diversity Day” could be produced today and probably rightly so. In fact, I have outtakes from that scene with Steve Carell that I can’t even say what they are, you know, that was so funny. But you never know. Things swing back and forth all the time, you know. And the culture is very malleable in that way, you know. The things that we find — it’s not so much the things that we can make fun of, but the things we find we can laugh at and it’s okay to laugh at, you know. I think I have a — I have more things on my list than most people and I acknowledge that, you know. And it’s why I probably get in trouble sometimes. But I honestly think that the more we can laugh about tough things, I just think the better off we are.
Sounds like Wilmore might subscribe to a comedic version of Mr. Rogers’ ethos that if it’s mentionable, it’s manageable. I’m looking forward to seeing what Wilmore makes us laugh about on his upcoming Peacock show — and how we’ll view it 15 years in the future.
For more on The Office, here’s intel on some of the bonus footage you’ll see once the series moves to Peacock — which, ostensibly, doesn’t include these outtakes Wilmore is referring to.