Larry Wilmore isn’t letting a little thing like cancellation get him down.
During his last broadcast on Comedy Central Thursday night, the “Nightly Show” host was unbowed, telling viewers he was proud of the work he and his staff of contributors produced in an attempt to feature voices that don’t normally get an airing during late-night television. “As a culture, we’ve all agreed with the opinion that the world should be seen in a certain way. So at ‘The Nightly Show,’ our chief mission was to disagree with that premise, and to see the world in a way that may not make everybody comfortable,” he said. “And to present it with a cast of people who don’t always get to have a voice on that. On that front, I feel we’ve been very successful, and I couldn’t be prouder of what we accomplished.”
Another wee-hours TV veteran appeared to bolster the view. Jon Stewart, whose Busboy Productions is the backer of “Nightly,” made an appearance in the middle of the half-hour show. “Do not confuse cancellation with failure,” Stewart told him, agreeing with the notion that Wilmore’s crew had tried to do something different with the genre.
Stewart also made a pointed joke. “Your last show? Oh my God — what, did you piss off Peter Thiel?” he asked, referring to the Silicon Valley billionaire who recently mounted a legal campaign to shutter the gossipy web site Gawker.
To be sure, Wilmore’s efforts had become hard to sustain. Executives at Comedy Central had said earlier this week that the show’s ratings and digital influence were not likely to increase and that the program’s position on the Viacom-owned network’s schedule was no longer tenable. Next week, “@midnight,” a popular and frenetic game-show hosted by Chris Hardwick, will move to Wilmore’s 11:30 spot after “The Daily Show.”
Wilmore spent a lot of time giving kudos to his staff of contributors, including head producer Rory Albanese and other frequent performers such as Robin Thede, Holly Walker, Jordan Carlos, Ricky Velez,Mike Yard, Grace Parra, and Franchesca Ramsey. Many of the crew even came out on stage for a segment in which they sipped cocktails and talked about the show amongst themselves.
Wilmore remained defiant. In a recent interview, he expressed a desire to return to late night in some fashion. And in the show’s final seconds, he suggested late-night viewers might see him again. “I’ll just say this,” he said in the show’s final seconds. I’m not done yet.”