Larry Wilmore’s ‘Nightly Show’ Cancelled at Comedy Central

Larry Wilmore Nightly Show cancelled
Courtesy of Comedy Central

The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore” will call it a day after Thursday’s episode.

Comedy Central has canceled the half-hour series that replaced “The Colbert Report” on Jan. 19, 2015, making “Nightly” the first of the recent wave of late-night newcomers to shutter.

Wilmore informed his staff of the cabler’s decision Monday afternoon.

In the near term, Comedy Central will slide Chris Hardwick’s pop culture quiz show “@Midnight” to the 11:30 p.m. slot that follows “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah.”

Comedy Central president Kent Alterman said the decision was made because “Nightly” had failed to gain ratings traction with the cabler’s core demo of young adults, nor were there positive signs for the show in key social media metrics. Alterman made a point of praising Wilmore and the distinctive approach he brought to commenting on the day’s news.

“We hold Larry in the highest esteem, personally and professionally. He brought a strong voice and point of view to the late-night landscape,” Alterman told Variety. “Unfortunately it hasn’t resonated with our audience.”

Alterman called it a “business decision” to pull the plug.

“We’ve been monitoring it closely as for a year and a half now and we haven’t seen the signs we need in ratings or in consumption on digital platforms. We’ve been been hoping it would grow,” Alterman said.

Wilmore didn’t hide his disappointment in having to bring the show to an abrupt end this week, particularly before the climax of the presidential race that has yielded so much material.

“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.”

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Comedy Central is developing a project with “Daily Show” contributor Jordan Klepper that could be a potential successor to “Nightly” in the post-“Daily Show” slot. But Alterman said it was unlikely that any new program would be set before the start of the year.

“The next step is to open our doors to aggressive development in late night,” he said. They may well consider shows that are a departure from the “Colbert” and “Nightly” format focusing on topical news.

“We’re open to novel, creative, interesting ideas,” Alterman said. “I wouldn’t anticipate it being a scripted show. It needs to feel a part of our late-night landscape. But we’re very open and excited by the idea of someone we’re not even thinking about coming in the door. We’re really just trying to be open-minded about all possibilities.” Those possibilities include “@Midnight” earning its way to taking over the 11:30 p.m. timeslot on a permanent basis, he said.

Wilmore had been a regular presence on “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” for years before Comedy Central tapped him in May 2014 to fill the void left by Stephen Colbert’s departure for CBS. Wilmore’s show, which bowed a month after Colbert’s sign off in December 2014, was originally titled “Minority Report with Larry Wilmore” but changed its moniker because the Fox network had a drama series in the works with the same title (based on the 2002 Steven Spielberg movie).

From the beginning, Wilmore brought an analytical as well as comedic spin to the day’s headlines. The show included a regular roundtable segment that featuring a mix of comedians, pundits, journalists and newsmakers discussing generally weighty subjects. Those segments were praised for offering a clear-eyed take on social, cultural and political issues that went beyond one-liners or the shouting matches found in other news roundtable shows. Wilmore also drew strong reviews for his commentary on racial politicking in the presidential race and horrifying acts of violence, from the slayings in San Bernardino, Calif., last year to the recent string of racially charged police shooting incidents.

“Nightly Show” premiered less than a month before Stewart announced his plan to step down as “Daily Show” host. Wilmore opened to nearly 1 million viewers but didn’t sustain that audience. After Stewart bowed out on Aug. 6, 2015, “Nightly Show” struggled with the smaller lead-in as Noah took the reins from Stewart.

In the past few months, “Daily Show” has seen an uptick particularly among the younger viewers that matter most to Comedy Central. In the second quarter of this year, “Daily Show” averaged 278,000 viewers in the adults 18-34 demo, second only to NBC’s “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” (364,000). “Nightly Show” averaged 153,000 viewers in that demo.

Given the importance of “Daily Show” franchise to Comedy Central, it’s no surprise that the cabler would devote more energy and resources to promoting Noah rather than “Nightly.”

Alterman hailed Wilmore and his production team for their willingness to be collaborative and to experiment with the show.

“We applaud Larry and his team for evolving the show,” he said. “They created a community of contributors who were doing great comedy bits that were seamlessly woven into the show. As much as we thought ‘Nightly’ was evolving creatively it just wasn’t resonating with our audience.”

As the curtain falls on “Nightly,” Wilmore’s immediate focus will be on his work as a writer and showrunner, which took a backseat to his “Nightly” hosting and producing duties during the past 20 months. Wilmore is juggling numerous projects at present. He’s the co-creator and exec producer with Issa Rae of the upcoming HBO comedy “Insecure,” and he was instrumental in the launch of ABC’s “Black-ish” in the 2014-15 season.

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  1. JOSE says:

    NOW CANCEL TREVOR NOAH AND GET RID OF TWO TALENT LESS RACIST LEFT WING POLITICAL HACKS WITH ONE STONE, NO ONE BUT HATERS AND ANARCHISTS WATCH THESE PROPAGANDA “SHOWS”

  2. Tom says:

    People aren’t into whiney victims who are only interested in one side of a story. Good riddance

  3. He brought it on himself with his one sided racial show and after his White House Correspondents’ Dinner speech , he was finished.

  4. Jake says:

    Terrible show. Why turn so many things into a race issue? “The unblackening”? Seriously? Get out of here.

  5. Mike says:

    I always changed the channel with him, The Noah show is amazing and I think even Jon Stewart would give it his stamp of approval. But the Larry Wilmore show really felt like they were resisting what they were there for in the first place “To replace Colbert” and he always seemed against it even when people chant his name to keep the legacy of the show in tact. In that spiral they seem to not want to do anything like the successful Colbert show and reverted to talking about single minded topics often with people who are not intelligent enough to hold a real conversation worth listening too… I gave him 2 months before i gave up.

  6. Prince Brown says:

    Larry Had a great cast, yea It could have been better but it didn’t deserve to be cancelled. He did a good job of opening a platform for Whites folks to understand the Black community. Hate to see it go. #theUnblackening

  7. Melissa Hudkins says:

    I can’t believe that Comedy Central cancelled his show! As a nurse I usually work nights, but on my nights off, I used to love watch Trevor Noah & Larry, give today’s issues, a great 1-2 combo!

  8. They lost me with that horrendous skit about the drunk woman PMSing. Tasteless and not funny.

  9. Richard says:

    I’m a 76 year old white male living in eastern Virginia, and I’m sorry to see the Nightly Show canceled. Larry is a great comedian who has covered many sensitive issues with humor and sincerity. I, for one, will miss him and his delightful fellow cast.

  10. Pamela Qarbaghi says:

    Loved Larry Wilmore and his sidekicks. That said, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart was a show for everybody, while Larry’s show seemed to focus on black issues and left me feeling that I wasn’t the demographic they were looking for most of the time. I still watched but really missed the wider scope of Jon’s show.

  11. John Crane says:

    Lesson to programmers: Even young leftists will eventually tire of being force fed social justice race lectures 24/7.

  12. alfred young says:

    I’m sorry to see mr wilmore show canceled,to me he was a good out speaking human being about issues that a lot of other humans weren’t able…or willing to talk about,his comments made me think ….and laugh!!I think that our world needs to start thinking in new ways to grow and mature….I felt that with mr.wilmore’s show….I’m not a young person…over 65 and really enjoy comedy central programs….when I watch,thank you for letting me comment

  13. karen ehler says:

    This sucks big time. You didn’t give him enough time. He was still building the show and an audience. Comedy Central is being cowardly by not supporting this show for a bit longer. I’m going to miss it desperately.

  14. Dianne J. Roussel says:

    sorry that you cancelled his show. I loved it. watched it every night

  15. CC has lost their collective minds. Perhaps the show was “expensive” to them but this was quality content compared the other “meh” they shovel out there. People follow talent, not networks. You’d think in the era of choice and DVR they’d get that by now– those programming guys are idiots.

  16. Kelly says:

    As a middle class, middle aged, white school teacher and mom I have to say that I love The Nightly Show and watch it religiously. No offense to the guy that follows, but it’s a steaming pile of poop (that I immediately turn off) compared to what Larry and his crew offer. The social commentary is priceless and relevant in ways that mainstream tv is too vanilla to touch. Poo poo to Comedy Central for their short-sightedness. Kudos to Larry Wilmore et al., you are a voice that more people need to listen to and I hope and pray that a smarter network picks you up and gives a platform for the much needed dialogue that this country needs to have.

  17. I want Comedy Central to know that I am very unhappy about this. The Nightly Show is a jewel in a pile of trash. It is thoughtful, well-done, and stimulating. Too many shows are just more of the same crap we’ve seen for years.

  18. Tracey says:

    Unbelievable! There is so much trash on television and Wilmore shed insight with humor on a variety of topics. He will be missed!

  19. Barbara Krengel says:

    I am disappointed! Larry Wilmore gave programming on Comedy Central humor and depth. There was a particular voice given to the frustrations of black Americans, that was good for all Americans. What a short-sighted decision on the part of the network.

  20. Terrr says:

    I really tried to like this show, but eventually had to give up. I guess I was not alone. After watching Wilmore’s cringe worthy correspondence dinner flop, I never even hesitated to reach for the remote as soon as Trevor Noah signs off.

    The next one to get canceled,…Colbert on CBS. I give it a year.

  21. Jkoch says:

    Great smart show. Major bummer!!

  22. Karen Shelley says:

    I don’t believe the “ratings” spin. He was cancelled too suddenly. He was doing what Colbert used to do before he was persuaded to leave.

  23. Joanne Ruzza says:

    Larry’s show was intelligent…midnight is just dumb

  24. Janell says:

    I loved watching the nightly show. I watched the show nightly with Hulu. I liked the seriousness it took many issues. I thought Comedy Central cared more about diversity. I 😓 When I found out on npr that they were cancelling his show. I couldn’t believe it. I still can’t.

  25. JoMcG says:

    I never missed an episode! It was so refreshing (and often depressing) to get the black/minority perspective on events… many of which don’t make it to the regular news. The unblackening of Comedy Central and of late night is a sad commentary on our society. CC says it was a “business decision”? That’s just corporate America’s way of silencing the minority voice. Shame on you Comedy Central. You’ve lost a white male viewer.

    • Mark Wilson says:

      Larry was outstanding. As a talk show host, comedian and a human being. We tuned in even though it was on late. He addressed the tough issues with grace woven in with absurdity as well as humor. Teri and I can’t believe the corporate entity didn’t fly with you and try a different time slot to see if ratings could be improved. By the way we are a 50+ white couple. If that really matters. Not sure. But we think Larry’s had universal appeal.
      Maybe the ability to sell commercials trumps (no pun intended) content.
      Damn sorry to see you go Larry!

      Mark & Teri

  26. H. Munster says:

    Finally! nightly shows inane socialist pov was humorless. Glad to see another progressive drone fall to the wayside.

  27. DB Bennett says:

    I am surprised at the short sightedness of CC. While the idiotic and insulting show South Park has flourished for 19 seasons TNS was cancelled after 20 months. I see the direction of this network and what they feel is important. A cutting edge program TNS that discussed topics untouched anywhere else is gone. What’s wrong CC? Was TNS too black for you? Lord knows America doesn’t want to look itself in the mirror. I have no reason to tune into this network again unless I long at some point for crasp buffoonery.

  28. Oh great, Chris Hardwick, who thinks yelling fast and loud = funny.

  29. Chenry Han says:

    Worn, hackneyed perspectives and uncreative humor punctuated this show from the beginning. Good riddens to this failed attempt at mixing PC with humor.

  30. J.L. Maurer says:

    Just finished reading earlier comments about the demise of “The Nightly Show”. Man, do I ever agree with the many who will miss this great show! My very first thought when I heard this was that the corporate world of TV entertainment was maybe punishing Larry for his monologue earlier this year at the Washington Correspondents’ Dinner. Especially his discomforting send-off to Obama was likely just TOO MUCH for that audience to handle. (Aawww, too bad!! GROW UP!!) I, too, am a member of CC’s apparently non-desirable demographic: mid-50’s, white, female professional. One night last year, I came across Larry & Co. by sheer accident when channel-surfing and BORED out of my gourd with regular fluff programming. I’d never really watched Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert, nor any other regular shows on CC. Larry and his super-talented–not to mention HILARIOUS–contributors made me laugh at their parodies, often nod my head in agreement with their witty but sharp critiques, plus appreciate the INTELLIGENT, adult discourse on serious social issues during the panels. There were many nights when I texted one of my brothers–a long-distance trucker–with the heads-up, “You should have seen ‘Larry’ tonight! He said/They did a skit on…” Early on in these exchanges, my brother replied, “Keep the late-night commentaries coming!” On a different note: as a now-retired, urban grade school teacher, I wasn’t threatened @ all by Larry’s (if you will) slanted segments spotlighting the racism STILL alive and well in the U.S. The “Unblackening of the White House” segments, for example, were fine, pointed critiques not often seen or heard in mainstream programming. And…GASP! To see SO many talented people of color on one show was refreshing. As some other commentators wrote, I sure hope that CC will either reconsider canning this superior show, or that a different network such as HBO might bring it back, minus the muzzle. Paging Bill Maher! Maybe YOU can go to bat for “the Nightly Show”? The current loss is ours. No other CC programming interests me as much as TNS did. To Larry, Holly, Rory, Mike, Grace, Carlos, everyone there, all of you will be greatly missed. You gave us ntelligent, informative, & VERY funny content: what a concept for mainstream TV.

  31. L says:

    So sad the Nightly Show was canceled, should have switched the air time so it didn’t compete with the major network talk shows i.e: Colbert. Am very angry with CC, canceled the best show they have.

  32. Patricia Holbrook says:

    We will miss the Nightly Show!

  33. Camanie Chang says:

    I am from Trinidad and Tobago. I will truly miss your show. I watch it regularly. It is funny and informative. I am sure that you will return soon if not on CC,elsewhere. The cancellation of your show is a good example of why the world is in the state it is. We encourage ignorance and do not raise the level of the discussion. Bye and Best wishes. Now I will have to start going to bed early!!

  34. Marcia Mardis says:

    Definitely a HUGE mistake to which I credit its poor promotion. The hasty ending also does not smell of deep respect for Larry or the cast. Is Comedy Central crazy to cancel this show right before such an eventful election and replace it with NOTHING? Egads, at least aggressively poach Samantha Bee’s great show. Something.

  35. Laura Harper says:

    CC, Variety is making a huge mistake. My husband and I watch Larry every night. As 2 Caucasian American mid50 year olds we love Larry’s refreshing and extremely funny reality of today’s world. He tells the truth, informs while being totally entertaining. Bring him back. Chris Hardwick is great on Talking Dead but as far as we are concerned CC, ” you’re dead to me!” We won’t be watching!

  36. Janice Reeves says:

    All demographics love Larry’s news & roundtables. Says the 60y.o. White woman in San Diego who recommends the show daily. Wrong way, Kent: should’ve expanded table talk cuz he has GREAT staff & was just starting to get top guest cred. Trevor’s growing, but Larry’s THERE. Stat-based decision lost something in translation…

  37. Ronald Merchant says:

    Dammit! I LOVE this show! Stupid stupid suits!!!

  38. Dan says:

    Boooo. I love Larry Larry Larry

  39. Allison says:

    What a crying shame that Larry and his crew have been let go. They provided an intellectual and sharp commentary of the US cultural fabric. Their humour was pointed and most informative by presenting a black prism held to the light of US current history. As a foreign viewer I looked forward to the insghts presented by this superb team.

    Withe Larry’s departure there is only one reason left to watch the channel and I hope that reason does not fall victim to “demographics”

    It is unfortunate that humour is the only counter point to what is happening inside the US.Humour has always been counter balance to extremely extremist situations. To slowly cut this out is, in the end, a disservice to the citizens of the US.

  40. gosseyn says:

    The ONLY acceptable reason for cancelling Nightly is if Larry was replacing the LAME Trevor Noah as Daily Show host. I somehow get the feeling Comedy Central execs decided that they couldn’t have two shows in a row with black hosts. All in all, this was a stupid decision, and may be enough to make me stop hoping Trevor Noah will be funny someday.

  41. gdborat says:

    Nightly show shouldn’t be cancelled! Larry Wilmore provided a better understanding of race relations than most media……….why isn’t fox news cancelled?

  42. Dean says:

    Bad move cancelling this show. It promoted understanding and unity among people through comedy. Who watched The Daily Show and then half an hour later switched off The Nightly Show? I doubt many did. And the name of the show now at 11:30 is called @midnight? Makes a lot of sense.

  43. Susan Griffith says:

    This is one of my favorite shows. So disappointed it has been cancelled

  44. Maria Belmonte says:

    Shame on Comedy Central for cancelling a fantastic shows and not caring that a more mature audiences loves the show😤

  45. Robert Odette says:

    the fact that fallon is on top says it all – engaging discussion of important issues of the day is not what america wants – it seems stupid games and inane chit chat is what makes american television tick – witness ellen, the springer/maury povich genre, reality shows and other tripe that get ratings – I blame the US education system – today’s young adults are clueless – that’s why trump is a candidate for president – the US is a cultural and intellectual mess

  46. bwiederaenders says:

    No, no, no!! Don’t take Wilmore away from me!!! I’m a 75-year-old white Christian woman living in Texas and I NEED a nightly dose of realism. So many times, Larry’s commentary or a panelist’s comment opened my eyes to another way to understand. I record only three shows regularly–PBS Newshour, Larry Wilmore, and Stephen Colbert. I can’t stand that “Midnight” thing and Noah was a disappointment after Jon Stewart left. I only watch Colbert’s opening bits then delete. I watch every minute of Wilmore and all these gifted comedians and actors whom I had not known before. Now what? Comedy Central may not care that my demographic is leaving but I hope some other network is brave enough to give us Larry Wilmore’s honesty and wit and morality. Hang in there, Larry, and continue keepin’ it a hunert.

  47. jakaurora says:

    No, why? I loved this series! It was not the little Colbert report but it was funny entertaining and a great take on modern American culture! Gah I sound like an upper class middle aged white girl… I am but still!

    Loved this, loved it!!!!!

  48. Kristi Dunfrund says:

    In a time of racial upheaval in this country, it was so informative and relevant to see Nightly Show’s coverage and perspective on current events. As a 63 year old white woman, the show offered me a unique perspective on the black experience that is not readily available on any other show. Sad decision to pull a quality & unique show like this especially at a time where it’s crucial to try to be open-minded and understand all sides of issues.

  49. cmlukey says:

    Shocking! You mean there is a limited audience for an unfunny, untalented hack trafficking in non-stop racial tropes and Dimocrap propaganda? Who knew?! Good riddance. Noah will soon follow.

    • Mike Steele says:

      @cmlukey: Admit it. You never watched the show.

      I’m a little old white guy (kinda fat and a bit bald, too). Wilmore’s show told me about stuff I just never knew, exposed me to viewpoints I never considered, and gave me the proper appreciation of the merits of Bill Cosby. His crew is (now “was”) brilliant. I like Trevor Noah, but he’s been the lead-in to Larry’s show. I’m going to miss Larry (and Holly Walker [yum] and Mike Yard), and do hope they turn up elsewhere.

    • squeesh says:

      The show was thoughtful and intelligent—which you aren’t, you ignorant troll. Now stfu, please. Sucks to see it go.

  50. Jim says:

    I’m glad to see it go. Hope they fill the spot with something wirth watching. He spouted racism, and not the funny kind. Race is fair game in comedy, but Wilmore was race baiting. It’s all he had to talk about, and his dry humor, smug attitude, and that face, oh man that face, just made it hard to watch.

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