Ever since Larry Wilmore launched The Nightly Show on Comedy Central on January 19, 2015, the black comedian has lost 55 percent of the audience he inherited from Stephen Colbert, who moved from The Colbert Report on that cable television channel to The Late Show on CBS.
According to Joe Concha of the Mediaite.com website, the columnist asserted that Wilmore's huge drop is due to two factors: “He's not funny. And … pretty much no one is interested.”
“But don’t take my word for it,” Concha stated. “Talk to my friend Nielsen, who says the 55-year-old comic is down an appropriate 55 percent from The Colbert Report’s average audience in 2014, Stephen’s last full year on the job.”
Colbert averaged 1.3 million total viewers in February of 2014, according to Nielsen. A year later, Wilmore's recently launched Nightly Show was holding a respectable average of 812,000 viewers. Moving forward another year to this month, Wilmore averaged only 580,000 total viewers each night in the first week of February.
For those mathematically challenged trying to score at home, that means Wilmore has lost more than half of the audience he inherited in a scant 12 months. Not sure if that’s some kind of record, but it oughta be.
In watching the Los Angeles native’s offering over the past year, there’s one consistent, glaring reality that comes across almost every episode: The host is not only a hopeless ideologue, but worse … he’s a humorless one.
“And his obsession with race ends up leading to jokes -- which come across more like commentary without a punchline, but more F-bombs -- that result is any comedian's worst nightmare: being utterly predictable,” the columnist stated.
Concha called a segment on Monday night an “ugly, unfunny swamp” when he and a number of panelists debated whether Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz are truly Hispanic.
“Included in this exercise was panelist Jose Antonio Vargas,” an illegal/undocumented immigrant “who openly flaunted said status” while claiming that “America immigration laws are crap.”
“He’s proof that illegals shouldn’t need to wait through the inconvenient and annoying process of entering the country legally,” Concha joked, “and anyone who questions this perspective is clearly racist, insensitive and likely a Republican.”
“Why do you think Cruz and Rubio don’t really embrace their Hispanic heritage?” the liberal host asked.
Nickelodeon host Jordan Carlos joked: “Whoa! They’re Hispanic?”
The liberal host asked if they only used their Hispanic identity when it's convenient. “That’s what they do,” agreed contributor Grace Parra.
“Wow,” Concha remarked sarcastically. “That’s an impressive range of opinions. Deep policy stuff, too (since comedy clearly isn’t the goal).”
The columnist then noted what Wilmore told the New York Times regarding his process of selecting a candidate to vote for:
I’m a big fan of Obama. But I didn’t vote for his policy, I voted for him because he’s black. The policy I agree with is the policy that he’s black.
In other words, Concha noted, “guys like Cruz and Rubio should not be defined by accomplishment, experience or world view, but by their race/ethnicity. It’s enough to make your hair hurt.”
“When TV historians look back on the history of Comedy Central, its apex will surely be seen as 2005-2015,” the columnist noted. “The primary reasons outside of the venerable South Park are, of course, the back-to-back presence of Jon Stewart (previous host of The Daily Show) and Stephen Colbert.”
“What they brought to the table, it was far, far more shrewd, intelligent and, yes, funny, than the one-note tune Wilmore croons to his dwindling audience,” Concha stated.
Meanwhile, David Griner of the Adweek.com website agreed that the “Comedy Central's late-night talk line-up lost some of its intellectualism,” and several former viewers “can even tell you the exact moment they noticed the change” back in September.
“One specific clip seemed to be a rallying point for those disappointed with the tonal shift,” Griner noted. “It was a Wilmore-moderated panel featuring science advocate Bill Nye, who was asked to defend why we should 'give a s**t' about water being found on Mars.”
According to several online commenters, “Wilmore too often falls back on vapid pop culture commentary or race relations in America for his punch lines and segment focuses, abandoning the humorous-but-heartfelt championing of science and reason” for which his predecessor was known.
"This segment made me so angry," noted another commenter. "Such blatant and proud anti-intellectualism and anti-science for the sake of some cheap laughs on a show that used to pride itself on being entertaining without sacrificing intelligence.”
Will low ratings soon force Comedy Central to change its current prime-time line-up? That's doubtful since, as NewsBusters previously reported, the liberals at MSNBC have only recently adjusted that channel's schedule after years of dwelling in the ratings cellar.