Now THIS is funny:
It’s the end of the road for Larry Wilmore’s Comedy Central series The Nightly Show.
The decision comes a year and a half after rolling out the half-hour late-night panel show as a forum for underrepresented points of view. The last episode is slated to run Thursday, with the Viacom-owned network planning to slot in Chris Hardwick’s game show @Midnight at 11:30 p.m. until a permanent replacement is found. In explaining the decision, Comedy Central president Kent Alterman says it came down to its inability to register with viewers.
“Unfortunately, it hasn’t connected with our audience in ways that we need it to,” Alterman tells The Hollywood Reporter, “both in the linear channel and in terms of multi-platform outlets and with shareable content and on social platforms as well.”
At launch, The Nightly Show had the benefit of stalwart The Daily Show With Jon Stewart as his opener, and a landscape seemingly in desperate need of a diverse voice just as the Black Lives Matter movement was taking shape. In the many months since, however, Wilmore lost Stewart as his lead-in (he remains an executive producer on The Nightly Show) and instead follows another black voice in new Daily Show host Trevor Noah.
Wilmore, who informed his staff of the network’s decision early Monday, didn’t hide his disappointment. “I’m really grateful to Comedy Central, Jon Stewart, and our fans to have had this opportunity,” he says in a statement to THR, leaning on his “Keeping it 100” mantra as he continued: “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.”
The timing — after two seasons or, as of Thursday, 259 episodes — is believed to have come down to contractual logistics. Comedy Central is said to have been faced with a looming decision to sign Wilmore and what insiders say amounted to be about 15 members of the Nightly Show’s on- and off-screen staff to new contracts. But with the series averaging a particularly grim night-of rating of 0.2 in the 18-49 demo, for instance, doing so was hard to justify.
The real problem is Comedy Central stopped being funny about 7-8 years ago. 10 years ago they were riding an anti-war/anti-establishment wave. Then they sold their souls to Obama.
Jon Stewart saw the writing on the wall and bailed. Daily Show alumni Stephen Colbert, John Oliver and Samantha Bee ran off to other networks, but their shows are getting lousy ratings too. A few Jon Stewart wannabes have flopped too.
Maybe they should try comedy.
But wait! There’s more!
Alterman insists he remains fiercely committed to Noah, however, who is now the only prominent black voice in late night. In fact, he downplayed the franchise’s ratings and critical drop-off, suggesting any early stumbles are akin to what Stewart faced when he took over for predecessor Craig Kilborn many years earlier. Despite an only slightly rosier night-of rating of 0.3 in the 18-49 demo, the network has been focused on Noah’s reach among a younger subset, both on TV and online, as well as his ability to create moments that travel beyond the show. “Trevor has been resonating increasingly,” says Alterman, adding that Noah has reached a “plateau” in his voice leading into and after the political conventions: “All of the original shows that we shot at the conventions were so strong, and they really resonated with our fans.”
Noah’s only hope is if Donald Trump wins. Nobody wants to watch him kiss Hillary’s wrinkled old ass.