Earlier this week, The Hollywood Reporter revealed that Comedy Central would be cancelling ‘The Nightly Show’ due to poor ratings. According to the report, the network decided to throw the gauntlet on Larry Wilmore’s show after only two season as it had struggled to connect with audiences. As Wilmore and a lot of his crew members were up for renewal, CC found it easier to cancel the show outright rather than holding on for another season.
Wilmore, a former The Daily Show correspondent, said in a statement that he never wanted his show to focus on viral content along the same lines as his fellow late night hosts. Instead, he wanted to make meaningful content that dug deeper into issues relating to race in America. While that’s an admirable approach to late night entertainment, it is also where The Nightly Show fell short of reaching its true potential.
The news comedy show consisted of three segments just like fellow Comedy Central co-hort The Daily Show with Trevor Noah. Two scripted around recent stories, and one discussion section with a daily guest. For the first two segments, the shows looked almost identical. Both Wilmore and Trevor Noah delivered funny, clever, and insightful commentary on recent events. However, due to the fact that Wilmore had The Daily Show as a lead in, whenever they covered the same stories, he could only repeat what Noah had already said.
With the last section of the show however, Wilmore had a real chance to lead a discourse about issues relating to minorities and race in the 21st century. Beyond himself, and the daily guest, two correspondents from the show would usually be the ones to add to the dialogue on the chosen issue of the night. The discussions were often quite shallow, and came off as dull since you had four people that usually shared the same view of the world. Had Wilmore instead brought in three different perspectives, and placed himself in the middle as an objective moderator, the show could’ve created content that evaded any comparison to its lead-in. If the show had instigated a real debate about the issues they brought up, it could’ve presented an unrivaled sociological insight during a time slot engulfed by desperate attempts to achieve viral success.
Though it’s no guarantee that viewers would’ve tuned in to watch a proper discussion, it would’ve elevated the show to a concept that tried to bring its viewers insightful and original content, rather than one that could never escape the comparisons to its better established lead-in.