Larry Wilmore, whose Nightly Show saw its cancellation made public Monday, is interested in staying in the fake-news game.
The comic, who took over Comedy Central’s 11:30pm slot from Stephen Colbert’s Colbert Report last January and was unable to garner a Colbert-sized viewership, tells TIME that he felt challenged by the crowded late-night landscape but looked forward to chances to comment on the news once again. “I hope to do something again in this format, and hopefully not to be away for too long,” Wilmore says. “I feel like there are many different outlets and maybe I would be a better fit in a different place. I look forward to that. Hopefully that could be an exciting thing.”
Wilmore debuted in the midst of a late-night field that was only to grow yet more crowded, and shortly before the splashy debut of a presidential candidate who made satire next-to-impossible. The host noted that Donald Trump’s candidacy leveled the playing field somewhat—”It’s a challenge to do satire when the thing you’re satirizing is almost beyond satire, but I think that’s a challenge for everybody”—and that the real threat to his and every other late-night star’s success wasn’t coming from another channel on the set. “People are really funny these days on the internet,” he says. “There are memes that are hilarious that are the joke. Even before Colbert, The Daily Show ten years ago was competing with itself. It didn’t have to compete with Facebook in those days. It would have the first word on things. Many times, we may have the last word, because people have tweeted and posted and memed and Instagrammed.”
The Nightly Show faced several challenges beyond Trump and beyond the Internet—it was, for instance, a trailblazer of sorts in late night, one of only two shows (along with Trevor Noah’s Daily Show) hosted by black people. “It’s funny,” Wilmore says, “with me leaving, fifty percent of the black hosts are gone.” The show struggled to get coverage in landscape that tended to favor hosts more acquainted than Wilmore seemed to be with natural ire and bile. Indeed, its most-covered moment by far had nothing to do with the show at all; Wilmore’s use of the “n”-word to describe President Obama at this year’s White House Correspondents’ Dinner attracted mixed reviews and plenty of attention, but none that stuck to the show itself. In a manner more measured than the late-night personae of his rivals, Wilmore says: “There was a lot of attention afterwards, and unfortunately it didn’t connect to what we were doing on our show, but sometimes that happens. It was a once-in-a-lifetime thing. I’m glad I got the chance to do it.”
As for where Wilmore could go after his Comedy Central tenure, the host himself isn’t quite sure. “Who knows? These days, it could be anything. The more time goes by, the more different scenarios could present as possible outlets.” He noted that he hopes, too, to return to producing sitcoms (having been involved on the production side of both ABC’s Black-ish and HBO’s upcoming Insecure). But late night still exerts a pull. “I really enjoyed being able to be one of the people who weighed in on the events,” he says. “As hard as it is to do that every day, because it is exhausting, it really is fun to do that, especially when you feel like you really did something well, and it really hit.
“If I could find that, it would be great. If not, at least I got the chance to do it.”
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