Comedy Central has opted to cancel the late night talk series The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore after just two seasons. The series debuted in January 2015 as Comedy Central’s replacement for The Colbert Report, with former Daily Show correspondent Larry Wilmore offering a black-leaning take on the late night news/comedy show format. The series got off to a bit of a rocky start, but soon found its footing with Wilmore infusing more of the segments with his own unique point of view, much in the way that Jon Stewart made The Daily Show his own. Indeed, Stewart worked hard to promote The Nightly Show as the weekly follow-up to The Daily Show, but after Stewart left the long-running Comedy Central series, Nightly suffered a decline in viewership from which it was unable to recover.
Comedy Central backed its decision by saying the series didn’t connect with its audience “in a way that we need it to,” citing its lackluster performance on multi-platform outlets as well as the channel itself, where it averaged just a 0.2 rating. Wilmore, in a statement to THR, didn’t hide his displeasure at the news:
“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. And keeping it 100, I guess I hadn’t counted on ‘The Unblackening’ happening to my time slot as well.”
With Wilmore and his staff’s contracts up for renegotiation, Comedy Central opted to cancel the series and is now on the hunt for a replacement. For now, the network will air Chris Hardwick’s @Midnight, with the last episode of The Nightly Show slated to air this Thursday.
Per THR, one former Comedy Central stalwart who won’t be taking the slot is Jessica Williams, who was a favorite to take over The Daily Show after Stewart’s departure. Williams, however, “is more interested in developing a half-hour weekly scripted series” at the moment, so she’s off the table in terms of new late night talk series talent.
Wilmore’s spearheading of The Nightly Show was admirable. He eschewed viral-esque segments in favor of simply discussing timely topics in a conversational manner with his rotating roundtables of guests, focusing on race issues like the Black Lives Matter movement or a certain presidential candidate’s habit of maligning entire religions or races.
As for The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, despite lackluster performance and a wholly lacking “buzzworthy” presence, Comedy Central says it remains devoted to this new incarnation of the show. New host Trevor Noah is an incredibly nice guy and can certainly be funny at times, but he lacks the anger and frustration that made Stewart’s incarnation of the series so cathartic, and his viewership is definitely lacking. Moreover, he faces stiff competition from other former Daily Show correspondents who have carved out their own successful series like John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight or Samantha Bee’s Full Frontal, the latter of which has quickly taken up Stewart’s mantle as essential viewing.
Wilmore, meanwhile, remains an executive producer on ABC’s black-ish, which he was set to showrun before being given The Nightly Show. Here’s hoping he resurfaces in front of the camera soon.