Larry Wilmore on ‘The Nightly Show’: “I’d Thought We’d Have the Chance to at Least Be on Through the Election”
The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore airs its final episode on Comedy Central tomorrow night, and in the wake of Monday’s cancellation news, Wilmore did a handful of interviews to reflect on Comedy Central’s decision, what the network could have done to help The Nightly Show succeed, and what he plans to do next. Here’s how he found out the show was canceled as told to The Daily Beast:
The network called me and told me. You know, there was always a possibility we wouldn’t be picked up. But I never thought we would just have four shows left. I’d thought we’d have the chance to at least be on through the election. That part was a surprise to all of us.
Wilmore told Fast Company that he feels Comedy Central didn’t promote The Nightly Show as much as it should have and instead focused all of their energy on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah — an approach Wilmore admits is understandable since Jon Stewart leaving “was a big deal,” but also a missed opportunity to unify the network’s two new late night shows:
What could have been done differently to make sure people watched?
I think we should have had more synergy between the two shows. I even told the network this. Trevor and I should have had on-air connections, the way Jon and Stephen did. It would have been fun to do hand-offs and that type of thing. Just for people to see that there’s a distinction—[all] black people just aren’t the same. Here’s a guy from South Africa, for goodness sake. I grew up in California, you know? I’m an African-American, he’s an African-African. We could’ve really had fun playing on those differences. People would have known why our points of view are different. [Otherwise] it’s like, “Oh, another black guy is coming on to tell me this same stuff? Sorry, goodbye.”
What was the hesitance to show that synergy?
I don’t know; you’ll have to ask them. That was just my suggestion, but you know, I don’t work at the network.
In his interview with Vulture, Wilmore was asked about criticism of the show’s roundtable discussions and all but agreed with it:
You guys scaled the roundtables back a little bit, and I know some people saw it as something that was a flaw or that couldn’t catch on. I wanted to hear your defense of having a roundtable.
I don’t know if I would ever defend it. It was a format that Jon Stewart pitched for the show. His original idea was to have the whole show like that. But as we were developing it, I felt like I needed to weigh in on the events of the day, that the audience would want to hear from me, and that that would be important — that if all I did was a roundtable, I’d be more of a ringmaster, and I wasn’t sure if that would be the best use of my time. So then it became not as big. And the more time you reduce from that, the less you can really have an effective roundtable. It’s a very tough thing to produce and make effective. And it’s going to be iffy when you have a short amount of time. How do you generate a great talk in five minutes? Bill Maher talks for 40 minutes. There’s just a huge difference. Sometimes we made it interesting, sometimes it was very challenging.
In any case, Wilmore has no plans to leave television anytime soon. Here’s what he told The Daily Beast he plans to do next:
I’m planning to get back to scripted and do some more things like I did before, sitcoms, maybe film and that kind of stuff. But I’ll take some time to think about my next thing. I co-created a show with Issa Rae that’s at HBO [Insecure] and premieres in October, so I’m very excited about that.