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What 'The Nightly Show’s' cancellation means for the landscape of late-night

Host Larry Wilmore appears on the debut episode of Comedy Central's
Host Larry Wilmore appears on the debut episode of Comedy Central's "The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore" at The Nightly Show Studios on January 19, 2015 in New York City. The program was canceled Monday.
Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images for Comedy Central

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It was announced Monday that Comedy Central has canceled “The Nightly Show” with Larry Wilmore.

The show will be temporarily replaced starting this week, with host Chris Hardwick’s “@Midnight.”

Wilmore’s show took on an unique perspective that focused not only on topical satire, but issues of race played heavily in his comedy. Prior to hosting “The Nightly Show” he was a correspondent on “The Daily Show” with Jon Stewart.

During its two-year run, Wilmore’s show took over the spot on Comedy Central “The Colbert Report” left behind. In the end, it wasn’t just lacking in conventional live ratings. According to Comedy Central President Ken Alterman, it also failed among social media platforms, which ultimately sealed the show’s fate.

And in an age when a digital presence can make or break the longevity of a program, what does this mean for the landscape of late-night television?

One criticism that comes as a result of Wilmore’s departure is the continuing lack of diversity in the entertainment industry. In an article for “The Hollywood Reporter,” he is quoted on what he calls the “unblackening” of his time slot on the network. So is late-night becoming even less diverse? While white, male late-night hosts are still dominant, comedians like Trevor Noah, Samantha Bee and Chelsea Handler are still standing in the fight for ratings and are making waves both with live audiences and on social media.


Brian Steinberg, senior television editor for Variety