Former Bay Area comedian W. Kamau Bell says he's getting more comfortable as a late-night talk show host, thanks, in part, to the mentorship of Chris Rock, who he calls the "foul-mouthed Yoda."
"I'm still in the middle of learning curve," said the frontman of FX's "Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell." "Nobody is born to be a talk-show host."
To which, Rock interjected: "Regis."
Both Bell and Rock, an executive producer, appeared at a media conference to promote the show that debuted last fall and returns with fresh episodes Jan. 17.
"It's all a bunch of separate skills that, no matter what you did before, you have to pick them up," said Bell, who less than a year ago was busy doing stand-up in the Bay Area and elsewhere. "The hardest part is putting it all together. If it was all man on the street (segments) or interviews, it'd be easy but the hard part is putting it all together."
Along the way, he has gotten plenty of advice from Rock, who has hosted his own late-night show.
"I'm trying to get him out of his young comic head, and to embrace comedy as a whole," Rock said. "I'm also trying him in other ways. Having a show like this is like being a CEO. I'm trying to get him to be a good boss."
Rock, who is busy preparing to shoot another movie and launch a stand-up tour in the fall, was asked if he would ever consider doing a nightly network talk a la Jay Leno and David Letterman. It's tempting -- but also daunting.
"There's a part of me that wants to do it but I don't know if I could do it all the time," he said. " ... And I just don't care about Lindsay Lohan."
Rock also had some lively comments on gun violence, which has been a hot topic on the tour. His idea for gun control?
"Most people who go on killing sprees live with their mother. You should have to have a mortgage to buy a gun," he said. "No one with a mortgage has ever gone on a killing spree. A mortgage is a true background check. You know that, even if you go to jail for 30 years, you still have to pay the mortgage."