Comedy Central to Shop David Spade’s ‘Lights Out’; Show Won’t Return to ViacomCBS Cabler (EXCLUSIVE)

Lights Out With David Spade
Kevin Mazur/Comedy Central

“Lights Out With David Spade,” which halted production last month due to the coronavirus pandemic, will not return to Comedy Central, Variety has learned. Instead, the ViacomCBS-owned brand is preparing to shop the late-night talker — which it produces through its Comedy Central Productions — to outside networks and platforms.

The move comes as Comedy Central has experienced both a massive influx in viewers and disruption to its programming pipeline amid the pandemic.

“Lights Out” premiered last year on Comedy Central in the 11:30 p.m. time slot following “The Daily Show With Trevor Noah.” Spade, one of the biggest stars to emerge from “Saturday Night Live” in the 1990s, brought an established comedic voice to a spot on the schedule that Comedy Central has struggled to find success in since the end in 2014 of “The Colbert Report” with Stephen Colbert. But “Lights Out” ultimately didn’t deliver audiences that lived up to network hopes. The show’s first season had been slated to run through June.

A production shutdown prompted by the coronavirus pandemic effectively ended the possibility of growing the audience for the show, which Comedy Central remains enthusiastic about creatively. Spade has, since then, been producing a digital version of the show from home, which Comedy Central will continue to mount on its non-linear platforms for the next few weeks. As evidence of the regard that the company holds for Spade and the strength of its relationship with him, it will partner with the comic and his team to pursue an outside buyer for “Lights Out” at a time when a rapidly growing number of platforms are looking for programming.

The pandemic has interrupted work on a number of Comedy Central shows, forcing the network to make adjustments — even as a captive audience of viewers staying home to avoid exposure to the virus has helped lift the network to its highest rated quarter in four years. (Through April 1, Comedy Central’s 18-49 total-day ratings have improved by 27% since March 13.) Production on the second season of “Awkwafina is Nora from Queens” starring Golden Globe winner Awkwafina was halted last month — season one having wrapped as Comedy Central’s most watched freshman scripted comedy to debut in five years. Comedy Central plans to renew production on “Nora” and season two of the critically well-received scripted comedy series “The Other Two” later this year. Another recent addition, the revival of “Crank Yankers,” is also expected to return to production later this year.

The network has seen strong results from a remote version of arguably its most significant franchise, “The Daily Show.” Under the title “The Daily Social Distancing Show,” Noah was the first late-night host to return to air after ending live-audience tapings of his show. His March 26 interview with Dr. Anthony Fauci discussing the pandemic has racked up more than 27 million views across social platforms.