The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore will be no more after this week.
Comedy Central has canceled the late-night satire series after a year and a half. It’s last episode will air Thursday. Wilmore broke the news to his staff this morning.
“Even though we’ve given it a year and a half, we’ve been hoping against hope that it would start to click with our audience, but it hasn’t happened and we’ve haven’t seen evidence of it happening,” Comedy Central President Kent Alterman told The New York Times.
“I’m really grateful to Comedy Central, Jon Stewart, and our fans to have had this opportunity. But I’m also saddened and surprised we won’t be covering this crazy election or ‘The Unblackening’ as we’ve coined it,” Wilmore said in a statement. “And keeping it 100, I guess I hadn’t counted on ‘The Unblackening; happening to my time slot as well.”
Wilmore had served as “senior black correspondent” for The Daily Show with Jon Stewart when Stewart asked him to take over the 11:30 p.m. (ET/PT) time slot following him in January 2015, filling the void left behind when Stephen Colbert left The Colbert Report for CBS to replace David Letterman. Comedy Central temporarily will bump @midnight up a half-hour until it finds a new series to take Wilmore’s place.
Wilmore’s correspondents included Rory Albanese (also an executive producer), Jordan Carlos, Grace Parra, Franchesca Ramsey, Robin Thede, Ricky Velez, Holly Walker and Mike Yard. Wilmore gave voice to people and perspectives that weren’t being seen or heard elsewhere, particularly in comedy, but also just in panel discussions on the news such as those Wilmore moderated nightly on his show. Yard and Parra were stand-outs in both (you can hear my insightful podcast interview with Grace Parra here). Let’s hope some TV network picks up on their talents.
Most of them had gathered Friday afternoon for a Facebook Live chat with fans and followers, presumably before any of them had heard from Comedy Central.
Wilmore delivered the annual White House Correspondents Dinner speech this spring. The photo above showed Wilmore’s correspondents giving him friendly advice and ribbing about it.
But ratings weren’t improving since then, averaging 400,000-550,000 viewers. The Nightly Show had attracted more like 600,000-800,000 viewers on average before Trevor Noah took over The Daily Show from Stewart, but Alterman has said in multiple interviews today that he’s backing Noah and sees improvement in that show.
“The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore” was created by Jon Stewart and produced by Stewart’s Busboy Productions with Stewart, Wilmore and Rory Albanese serving as Executive Producers, Amy Ozols as Co-Executive Producer. Tom Ruprecht is the series’ Head Writer.
Wilmore was the initial showrunner for ABC’s acclaimed sitcom black-ish before taking The Nightly Show gig, and is consulting on the upcoming HBO series, Insecure, starring Issa Rae.