Ziwe on her Showtime series and provocative interviews


She’s laid claim to the hot seat. 

Mononymous comedian Ziwe has become renowned for posing provocative questions to famous interview subjects — although making them squirm isn’t her aim, she said. 

“All I can do is actively listen,” Ziwe (nee Ziwe Fumudoh), 29, told The Post. 

 “My goal isn’t to get them to reveal things about themselves that are supposed to be hidden — my goal is to have a very honest conversation.”

Her Showtime variety series “Ziwe” (Sundays at 11 p.m.) features her unconventional interview style that sent her on the road to stardom over the summer of 2020 — when many of her Instagram and YouTube videos went viral after she asked celeb guests such as Alison Roman questions like, “How many black friends do you have?” 

She takes a similar approach to her Showtime series, which features a mix of interviews and comedy sketches each episode. In the May 9th premiere, for instance, Ziwe asked author Fran Lebowitz if “racism or slow walkers” bothers her more. When “Real Housewives” star Eboni K. Williams appeared on the second episode to discuss her book “Pretty Powerful,” Ziwe asked the reality TV personality if “ugly people” can be powerful, too.

Comedian Ziwe poses in pink on the set of her Showtime series "Ziwe"
Ziwe on her Showtime series “Ziwe”
Barbara Nitke/SHOWTIME

Although it’s tongue in cheek, “Ziwe” frequently tackles serious social issues such as immigration and race.

“Comedy is how I process trauma,” said Ziwe, who’s based in Brooklyn. “So, it’s not that this is something that I’m choosing because I think it’s a better route than being serious. This is a reaction to the world – the world is in such utter disarray that to me, it is laughable. To have an honest conversation, you have to listen. If my guest says something interesting, I’ll follow that road. And that’s what you’re feeling when you watch. It’s organic and really fresh.”

Although Ziwe has become well-known for making audiences laugh, that wasn’t always her pursuit while she was attending college at Northwestern.

Ziwe in a comedy sketch on "Ziwe"
Ziwe in a comedy sketch on “Ziwe”
Greg Endries/SHOWTIME

“Poetry was one of the things I liked the most,” she said. “But I realized quickly that there aren’t many professional poets who can survive. But I found comedy and I saw similarities, because it’s about the economy of words and flow.”

Before her Showtime series, Ziwe cut her teeth as a writer on “Desus & Mero” and “The Rundown with Robin Thede.” Her rise to fame might seem like overnight success to viewers but, to her, it’s been a long time in the making. 

“I’ve been working as an entertainer for years. I’ve been a working writer since I was 25, I’ve been doing live shows in New York City as well as performing. So, [this show] feels like a culmination of everything that I’ve been doing. With Instagram Live [videos], that was a lot of talent booking and the research of being an interviewer. All of those skills I brought to my Showtime show. And that helped me to decide who would be good pairings on talent for each episode, and get even bigger people that I could never imagine.”

Guest Patti Harrison (left) and Ziwe (right) in a comedy sketch on "Ziwe"
Guest Patti Harrison (left) and Ziwe (right) in a comedy sketch on “Ziwe”
Barbara Nitke/SHOWTIME

The show’s guests are an eclectic mix of reality stars and politicians such as New York Mayoral candidate Andrew Yang and former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams (who will appear on the June 13th episode).

“They are equally important,” said Ziwe, referring to politics and reality TV.

“The ‘Housewives’ are an incredibly popular show. The last President of the United States came from an unscripted television show…to ignore this sect of culture because it’s not ‘highbrow’ is elitist. It reveals so much about twenty-first century America. So much of it is fake, but even in that fakeness, those values reflect our world and our country. I love examining it.”


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