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Wyatt Cenac's new comedy series, 'Problem Areas,' tackles serious topics




Wyatt Cenac combines subtle humor and in-depth reporting in his new show
Wyatt Cenac combines subtle humor and in-depth reporting in his new show "Problem Areas."
HBO

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Wyatt Cenac is back on TV with a weekly late night show called "Wyatt Cenac's Problem Areas."

In the show, Cenac both hosts and reports from the field. Those documentary pieces are similar to the reports he filed as a correspondent on Jon Stewart's "The Daily Show."

And one of the executive producers on Cenac’s new show is another "Daily Show" alumnus — John Oliver.

Unlike Oliver’s HBO show though, Cenac does not have a studio audience. He doesn’t sit behind a desk either. It’s more of a throwback to 1970’s-style public affairs shows. His "set" is a wood-paneled sort of den in which his only “colleagues” are Siri and Alexa.

Wyatt Cenac trailer

John Horn spoke with Cenac recently, who was celebrating his birthday by working in his Brooklyn production office.

Interview Highlights:

On what sparked his idea for the show:

I was inspired by old public affairs type of shows. They usually would come on like a Sunday or a Saturday at noon before a football game or something like that. So thinking about those shows, what was interesting to me was that they would talk about a societal issue that people would be talking about nationally, but look at the localized approach to addressing it. 

On the wide range of police training courses:

You could probably find more about the types of training that athletes go through in the off-season on your favorite sports team with a simple Google search than you could for what your officer is going through. Or even being able to say before your officers go through something: Oh, okay, don't send the officers to the guy who has an organization that he's calling the Killology Research Group. 

On visiting Falcon Heights, Minnesota where Philando Castile was shot:

What was interesting and compelling about going there is to see a story that had gotten so much attention nationally and to see that video footage of his girlfriend and her daughter. It really affected a lot of people, myself included. When you see something like that, in that moment we're all in shock. What I found compelling was, how does an entire city move forward? Not just the citizens, but the legislators and law enforcement themselves. 



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