Larry Wilmore on The Nightly Show’s end: ‘I don’t mind going down trying’

Former Comedy Central host says the days following the cancellation announcement have been surreal, but hes proud he kept it 100

On the afternoon after the final episode of The Nightly Show,Larry Wilmore said he was ready to figure out whats next.

Its been a tough few days getting through the shows, he said. But now that its over, its like: OK, lets move on.

Comedy Central <a href=”https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2016/aug/15/nightly-show-larry-wilmore-cancelled-comedy-central” data-link-name=”in” body link” class=”u-underline”>announced the shows cancellation earlier this week, and Wilmore said the next few days could only be described as surreal.

Those days dragged by, he said, but the level of support from fans and the media also surprised him: their messages were uplifting, despite a sadness that followed.

Its tough because you get such an outpouring as youre leaving, and its hard not to wonder, like: Where was this audience when the show was on? he said. Its frustrating, but mostly because its the reality of untraditional ways people consume shows these days.

Though the new ways people watch television may have hurt the ratings his show needed to survive, Wilmore was quick to note that new media platforms have let diverse voices, long excluded from major networks, gain footholds in media and entertainment.

Wilmore said he was still trying to sort through the deluge of thinkpieces and messages that say the cancellation of The Nightly Show has erased an important voice.

I dont know what the cancellation says about the state of black voices in media and entertainment, he said. Its hard for me to say, because right now Im in the eye of the hurricane. Throughout my entire career, Ive always tried to fix that issue of underrepresentation, so Im proud of the work that weve done thus far.

Wilmore said that one of his biggest accomplishments with The Nightly Showwas the diverse group that worked both in front of and behind the camera.

His other proudest accomplishment, he said, was his unfailing commitment to keeping it 100.

Many times when you do what I do, or work in journalism, in general, people try to not explicitly present their opinions on topics, he said. I think the term fair reporting is overused when it comes to journalism. I think saying they want to report evenly is more accurate.

Though Wilmore said he thought even reporting was an admirable approach, it was far from his goal: he wanted to be 100% honest, all of the time.

To keep it 100, I couldnt always be even, he said. I had to drop that pretense and if I thought a certain side was wrong, I had to call it that way. I couldnt be concerned with what side that was.

As an example, Wilmore said he has criticized Hillary Clinton almost as much as he has criticized Donald Trump.

Ive had people mad at me for doing that, but what can I do if I want to keep it 100? he said. Do they want me to act like I dont think the things Im saying? It wouldnt be right.

This approach has earned Wilmore many fans and more critics.

In my career, Im always trying to do something different, he said. Sometimes Im successful and sometimes Im not, but I dont mind going down trying.

Wilmore acknowledged his disappointment with Comedy Centrals decision, but reflected that his time on The Night Show and The Daily Show helped develop his voice.

Though hes always been interested in using satire and humor to comment on race and politics, Wilmore said The Daily Showgave him the first chance to project his own voice rather than write for other people.

That was my first chance to work on something that was really coming out of my mouth, he said. So Id say The Daily Show really started my awareness of my socio- political voice, and The Nightly Showtook it to the next level.

It was on The Nightly Showthat he realized his political voice was not what even he expected.

If youre writing for different people all the time, its easier to bury yourself in someone elses voice, he said. Even though youre writing for them, youre still expressing your opinions and point of view, but youre doing it while being able to hide in their voice.

He said he frequently surprised himself when he was required to take a public stand on the show.

I had never thought that much about the Confederate flag because I grew up in California, he said, alluding to a segment on persistent controversy around the symbol. Id seen those types of things, but not like in the south where it is in your face all the time.

Reporting on the flag, he said, forced him to confront a reality that he hand never had to see before, and which drew out emotions that surprised him.

Wilmore also tried to reassure fans about the quality of satire still running, saying that Seth Meyers, Stephen Colbert, Trevor Noah and John Oliver immediately came to mind.

Plus, theres so much incredible written press, and so many great shows on YouTube, and, you know, hopefully Ill be back soon to do my thing, he said. The show just ended last night, so I havent had a chance to breathe, but during the next week Ill definitely be thinking about how to best get back out there.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/media/2016/aug/20/larry-wilmore-nightly-show-cancellation-interview

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