A prominent voice in late night, comedy, and political commentary has been taken off the air.
The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore has reached the end of the road, as Comedy Central announced today that it would be canceling the news-show-satire, according to The New York Times.
His show, conducted with a foundation the same to the likes of The Daily Show, Last Week Tonight, and Late Night behind an anchor’s desk and accompanying news-of-the-day style, will see its last airing on Thursday. For its brief life of the last year and a half, Wilmore has served as a black critic of his nation; the satiric late-night host focused largely on issues regarding race, political strife in America–and the world, but mostly America–and other social problems. Most of all, Wilmore was seen as an 11:30-sharp spotlight on the grievances black Americans have against the country doing ill towards them.
In the opinion of Comedy Central president Kent Alterman, the cancellation is completely due to the show’s failed ability to “resonate” with the nation it’s examining; bottom-of-the-pack ratings could not help either. In this season to date, The Nightly Show would only average about 350,000 viewers a night, keeping it way behind its competitors in Jimmy Fallon, who grabs about 4 million a night, and Jimmy Kimmel, who averages about 3–all according to the Nielsen Report for July.
“Even though we’ve given it a year and a half, we’ve been hoping against hope that [the show] would start to click with our audience,” said Alterman. By clicking, the Comedy Central president is turning to Facebook, Twitter, Buzzfeed, and all other popular social media sites. These are the platforms that people toss around clips from Stephen Colbert, Trevor Noah and The Daily Show, John Oliver, and more, to share and accumulate millions of re-shares and hits. Comparitively, The Nightly Show did not have that clout.
In place of Wilmore, Chris Hardwick and his show–now inappropriately-named–@midnight will air at 11:30pm until something new comes along to fill its spot.
Low ratings might possibly not be the only bullet that took The Nightly Show down. Many of the now countless late-night programs feature white hosts that are more reserved in their desire to be raw with the issues of the day. Key players like Fallon and Kimmel, for instance, rely more on games and interviews with celebrities to space out the politics; Wilmore, on the other hand, would tend to analyze and critic, often with roundtables of fellow commentators, from start of the half-hour to finish.
That blunt edge of Wilmore’s comedic sword became pretty obvious during his night hosting the White House Correspondent’s Dinner earlier this summer, as his direct attacks on journalists in the audience drew some unfriendly response.
Wilmore was also part of a market now overly-saturated, as suggested by The Times. Once, the kings of late-night news-style shows were led by Jay Leno, Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, Conan ‘O Brien and David Letterman; now, two of those men have retired, and while Colbert in Letterman’s place has thrived, Conan has become mostly lost in the fray of all of these newcomers. That expanding list includes Colbert, Conan, Fallon, Kimmel, James Corden, Seth Meyers, Hardwick, Noah, Oliver, Samantha Bee, Carson Daly, and Andy Cohen (and that group might only get bigger)–whew.
Wilmore’s response to his show’s end was cordial. “I’m really grateful to Comedy Central, Jon Stewart, and our fans to have had this opportunity,” Wilmore said in a statement. “But I’m also saddened and surprised we won’t be covering this crazy election or ‘The Unblackening’ as we’ve coined it. And keeping it 100, I guess I hadn’t counted on ‘The Unblackening’ happening to my time slot as well.”