Larry Wilmore’s Late-Night Show Cancelled

Larry Wilmore on the debut episode of Comedy Central’s “The Nightly Show With Larry Wilmore.” (Credit: Comedy Central)
Larry Wilmore on the debut episode of Comedy Central’s “The Nightly Show With Larry Wilmore.” (Credit: Comedy Central)

In the midst of a wild and unpredictable presidential campaign, Comedy Central is upending its late-night lineup and canceling Larry Wilmore’s show.

The final episode of Mr. Wilmore’s 11:30 p.m. “The Nightly Show With Larry Wilmore” will be Thursday, the network announced on Monday.

Kent Alterman, Comedy Central’s president, said he informed Mr. Wilmore of the news late last week. The move, he said in an interview, was made for a simple reason: the show “hasn’t resonated.”

“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,” Mr. Alterman said.

The awkward timing of the cancellation, just 12 weeks before the election, ultimately came down to a contract, Mr. Alterman said. Mr. Wilmore’s deal, along with those of several of the show’s other staff members, was set to expire in a few weeks and the network had to decide now whether to renew or cancel.

For the time being, Comedy Central’s 12 a.m. show, “@midnight,” will replace “The Nightly Show” at 11:30 p.m. “The Daily Show” with Trevor Noah remains at 11 p.m. Mr. Alterman said he hoped to name a full-time replacement for “The Nightly Show” some time next year.

The cancellation makes Mr. Wilmore, 54, an early casualty of a television late-night comedy slate that has been vastly reordered over the last two years. With the retirement of David Letterman, Jay Leno and Jon Stewart, and Stephen Colbert’s move from Comedy Central to CBS, a series of new hosts have stepped into the spotlight, including James Corden, Samantha Bee and Mr. Noah. Jimmy Fallon, the host of “The Tonight Show,” has most formidably filled the power vacuum left by his predecessors, with the highest ratings of any late night show.

While Mr. Stewart was the host of “The Daily Show,” Mr. Wilmore became a fixture as the program’s “senior black correspondent,” offering wry observations on racial issues. In May 2014, Mr. Stewart tapped Mr. Wilmore to get his own show, and Mr. Wilmore formally became Mr. Colbert’s successor at Comedy Central’s 11:30 p.m. slot when “The Nightly Show” premiered in January 2015.

“The Nightly Show” has been known for a signature segment, “Keep It 100,” (slang for always telling the truth, no matter the consequences) and for Mr. Wilmore’s often stinging commentary on race and this year’s election. (He called the election to find Barack Obama’s successor “The Unblackening.”) Though the late-show genre remains heavy on easygoing laughter, any one episode of “The Nightly Show” could occasionally go for prolonged stretches without a single joke, something that intrigued some critics but failed to attract a broader audience.

“I’m really grateful to Comedy Central, Jon Stewart, and our fans to have had this opportunity,” Mr. 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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The New York Times