If I'm keeping it 💯, Comedy Central canceling The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore isn't a surprise. Ever since the show debuted in January 2015, it was hard to figure out if people truly cared for Wilmore's brand of late-night comedy, even though his resume includes writing and producing stints on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, The Office, and The Jamie Foxx Show, co-creating The PJs, winning an Emmy for the pilot episode of The Bernie Mac Show, and of course being the Senior Black Correspondent on The Daily Show. He's been around the block behind the scenes on television, and just as a black guy living on the planet Earth. Getting Wilmore to fill the void that The Colbert Report left was always going to be an uphill battle, but with Trevor Noah captaining The Daily Show during this year's election season (which Wilmore calls "The Unblackening" due to America searching for President Obama's successor); the last thing we need is the more senior voice being ripped from the late-night block.
Comedy Central president Kent Alterman told Variety that the decision to 86 Larry Wilmore was a "business decision," adding that The Nightly Show "hasn't resonated with our audience," which is true when you look at the ratings pattern. (**coughwhitebroscough**) It started out with its strongest average of live viewers during its first month; the debut was watched by 963,000 viewers, but by March 2015, The Nightly Show was pulling in almost 40% less viewers than The Colbert Report had (we're talking Nielsen stats of 417,000 for Wilmore's program in the 18-to-49-year-old demographic compared to Colbert's 683,000 viewers). The pattern is similar for Trevor Noah's Daily Show, which has dropped 37% in the ratings since Jon Stewart left. With both shows underperforming in their key demographic, you can't be surprised that one got the axe, and based on how vital The Daily Show brand is to Comedy Central's late-night block, the decision to get rid of Larry Wilmore makes sense.
The problem? Think back to the last time you connected with something Trevor Noah's said or done regarding the 2016 presidential campaign. Don't worry, I'll wait. He did call out Bernie Sanders being cockblocked by the DNC back in April, but on sheer Donald Trump fuckery alone, we should be getting peak Daily Show takes on what's been one of the scariest, most watched elections ever. Twitter was ablaze for the 32947819084093928492 debates that got aired, but it doesn't feel like Trevor Noah (who recently admitted that he wasn't ready to inherit Stewart's throne) has really brought it with the election coverage. It'd be even more intriguing to have a South African who's trying to make sense of American politics drop all kinds of hot takes on what's going on during this election season. He very well could be, based on the severe dip in the ratings, at least right now, no one is watching it.
Now that's not to say Larry Wilmore would be the right man to pick up the slack. If you're speaking to millennials, Wilmore might be seen as more of an old head; his "Keep it 100" segment works in terms of getting a rise out of certain guests who might pussyfoot around a question, but one has to assume that he's seen as either too old or too corny for the demographic he's trying to reach. What's sad is Larry Wilmore might be the only one with the stones to keep it 100 when it comes to the bullshit going on in the political season today. Larry's the one who got Bernie Sanders to talk "New York Values," the one who got 2 Chainz to explain what the fuck a "brokered convention" was. The guy who took Alabama to task for their racist election tactics. We're talking about the same guy who called Obama "my ni**a" during the White House Correspondent's Dinner, then was like "yeah, and?" when the media stood around, mouth agape. The same guy who had no problem calling out Bill O'Reilly on his racism. The same man who praised God for cellphones in an age where damn near every other week you're seeing cellphone footage of another black person being brutalized by the police. Instead of "keeping it 100," Larry was more about giving zero fucks when it came to saying what everyone was thinking on the platform he was given.
In Larry Wilmore's official statement about his cancelation, he continued to keep it 100: "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." You can hate on the way he delivered the message, but with what could be either the most historic—or frightening—election in our nation's history just four months away, I'd much rather have Wilmore straight shooting on the nonsense than Trevor Noah. If I'm keeping it 💯, that is.