Well, here’s some sad and rather unexpected news to start the week: The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore, which took over The Colbert Report in January 2015, just got cancelled after a mere two seasons. The last new episode will air Thursday night. There’s no word yet on who will replace Wilmore’s position, although we do know why the station cut the cord.
According to THR (via Collider), Comedy Central found the show’s lackluster ratings and its inability to connect to an audience “in ways that we need it to” as the reasons behind its termination. The Nightly Show averaged 0.2 ratings in the key 18-49 demo, and with the contracts of Wilmore and his team up for renewal, the station felt it wasn’t worth keeping it on the air. The 259th episode will air Thursday.
Wilmore appropriately kept it 100 regarding his cancellation.
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… It’s not designed to have the type of things that [Jimmy] Fallon and [James] Corden do, like the [carpool] karaoke type of thing or lip sync battle and those types of things because those are such pure comic things. Ours is so much more specific and has different structure to it, so it does get shared, but it’s just a different tone.
Executive producer Jon Stewart championed The Nightly Show in the beginning. When he left The Daily Show last summer, the series never quite recovered. Still, Wilmore offered insightful, passionate coverage in the last few months — especially during the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement — and he was just finding his footing before his cancellation. Although rumors suggest Jessica Williams might take his place, that’s not set to happen. The Daily Show alum reportedly is working on her own scripted half-hour comedy series and, once again, she is forging her own path (she was also heavily rumored to take Stewart’s position).
Meanwhile, despite tepid response and declining ratings, The Daily Show with Trevor Noah is not going anywhere. His calmer, composed demeanor has not attracted the interest in the program that Stewart brought on a daily basis, but Comedy Central want to give him another shot. They believe he’ll still find his chance. At the moment, Trevor still faces tough competition from Daily Show alums Samantha Bee and John Oliver, who have essentially filled the void left by Stewart and Colbert with their own weekly nightly talk show programs, TBS’ Full Frontal with Samantha Bee and HBO’s Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, respectively.
Wilmore’s next step remains unclear. He’s still an executive producer on black-ish, the ABC series he was set to showrun before taking the The Nightly Show gig. And here’s perhaps the saddest news of all: while Comedy Central looks for Wilmore’s replacement, they will air @Midnight with Chris Hardwick in its place. How tragic.