Comedy Central gave up on Lights Out with David Spade too soon

David Spade (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Comedy Central)
David Spade (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Comedy Central) /

Comedy Central will no longer air Lights Out with David Spade in a decision that sounds like a mistake.

Lights Out with David Spade is not returning to Comedy Central. The network is pulling the plug on the late night show before its first season ends.

According to reports, Comedy Central isn’t completely severing ties with Lights Out. The plan is to shop the program to other platforms or media outlets with the hope of finding a new home for the David Spade-led show.

Ratings were apparently not strong enough for Comedy Central to continue airing Lights Out. The show is the latest in a list of late night projects unable to meet the network’s expectations at the 11:30 PM timeslot.

Like its predecessors, Lights Out with David Spade is being cut before it lasted a year on television. This sounds impatient but must reflect Comedy Central’s desire to get instant results and find a smash-hit as soon as possible. It’s just disappointing to see Lights Out, a show that was attempting something different in late night, suffer the consequences.

We have seen plenty of examples of late night shows struggling to find a rhythm in year one. Conan O’Brien, Stephen Colbert, and Jimmy Kimmel all experienced less-than-stellar ratings at the start of their network careers in late night. But given time and support, each found his groove and the idea of canceling any of them now sounds absurd.

It seems as if Comedy Central is less likely to afford anyone that kind of opportunity. The cable network has been desperately seeking a late night partner for The Daily Show since The Colbert Report ended. Lights Out represented a different approach, tapping a known comedy star to talk about something other than politics.

Fans were excited to learn that Lights Out would differentiate itself by focusing less on political humor and more on pop culture, sports, celebrities, and social media. Yet at the same time, a series of events made it impossible to ignore what was going on over the past year.: impeachment, the Democratic field of presidential candidates, a pandemic, and more.

Being bombarded with these stories led late night viewers to turn to Colbert, Seth Meyers, and Trevor Noah to make sense of it all. It just didn’t feel like anything else could really make an impact. But that all could change.

Say Joe Biden defeats President Donald Trump in the election. Things could return to “normal” in the sense that every action, press conference, and statement from the White House won’t immediately become late night fodder. There was a time when the president wasn’t the entire subject of late night monologues.

If and when that time comes, it will be perfect for diversity among late night options. And Lights Out with David Spade was establishing itself as the go-to show for all things not politics. But without the patience from Comedy Central to see the landscape after November, Spade doesn’t get that chance.

Lights Out with David Spade appealed to a wide audience

The most popular content from Lights Out demonstrates how well it can connect with audiences. While social distancing, Spade has interviewed the stars of Netflix’s Tiger King, capitalizing on pop culture’s biggest sensation. The interviews wouldn’t seem right anywhere else in late night and also showcase Spade’s skills as an interviewer.

The show is also a fantastic source of Saturday Night Live stories. When joined by other SNL alumni like Adam Sandler, Dana Carvey, Norm MacDonald, and others, Spade opened up about behind-the-scenes experiences fans didn’t hear about anywhere else.

Spade was also providing a platform for comedians. While the Lights Out panel featured some big names like Bill Burr, Bill Hader, and Nikki Glaser, it also gave lesser-known comics a chance to shine. Instead of getting five minutes at the end of another late night show, these comics were in the spotlight and partnering with Spade to make viewers laugh.

David Spade has the talent and fanbase to be the sole voice on a late night show. But clearly he wanted to do something different that wasn’t being done anywhere else in the genre right now. It is just unfortunate that Comedy Central didn’t stick with Lights Out long enough to see it really get rolling.

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Hopefully Lights Out with David Spade will get a second life somewhere else. Maybe on a streaming service, as a web series, or even as a podcast. No matter the format, David Spade’s sense of humor is needed right now regardless of what a television network thinks. Be sure to share your thoughts on Lights Out in the comment section.