Larry Wilmore will have a Nightly Show no longer as Comedy Central has cancelled the late night program. The show was a ratings disappointment for the network, especially compared to its predecessor, the Colbert Report.
Wilmore’s last show will air this Thursday, August 18.
Network president Kent Alterman said in a statement, “Even though we’ve given it a year and a half, we’ve been hoping against hope that it would start to click with our audience, but it hasn’t happened and we’ve haven’t seen evidence of it happening.”
Alterman called it a “business decision.” The timing is due to the contracts of Wilmore and other staffers.
Wilmore touched on the timing in his statement, lamenting he would not get to cover the finish of the presidential campaign that he regularly made fun of. “But I’m also saddened and surprised we won’t be covering this crazy election, or ‘The Unblackening,’ as we’ve coined it.” Wilmore also referenced his show’s trademark segment where he challenges guests to answer truthfully, “And keeping it 100, I guess I hadn’t counted on ‘The Unblackening’ happening to my time slot as well.”
The New York Times reported that Wilmore’s ratings were roughly a million viewers less than Colbert. The Nightly Show has had an average of 776,000 viewers each night in 2016. The Colbert Report had an average of 1.7 million viewers a night in its final year.
Wilmore’s cancellation highlights the late night difficulties Comedy Central has experienced since the departure of comedy titans Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. The Nightly Show began airing a month after The Colbert Report ended and took advantage of the high ratings of Stewart’s Daily Show. Once Stewart left and was replaced by relatively unknown comedian Trevor Noah, both programs’ ratings suffered.
Wilmore headlined the White House Correspondents Dinner, a gig that often provides a bump to the comedian. Wilmore’s routine was controversial and took numerous shots at the media and the Administration. Wilmore took a shot at CNN’s Wolf Blitzer when he said, “Speaking of drones, how is Wolf Blitzer still on television? Hey, Wolf, I’m willing to project tonight’s winner: anyone that isn’t watching The Situation Room.”
That joke was seen as overly harsh towards the anchorman and Wilmore later said he felt “bad” about it.
The Correspondent’s Dinner was also another example of Wilmore being in Colbert’s shadow as Colbert, in character, delivered a blistering take down of the Bush Administration and is now seen as having done the best job at the Correspondents Dinner.