In conjunction with its upfront presentation, Comedy Central over the past three days announced a slew of renewals as well as series and pilot pickups as part of extensive development slates for TV and Snapchat. They included two projects — a pilot and a script — produced by Comedy Central star Amy Schumer.
Schumer’s popular Inside Amy Schumer, which is heading into its fourth season, was recently renewed for a fifth. Five seasons was how long Comedy Central’s other hit sketch comedy series, Key & Peele, ran before the duo called it a day. Like Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele, Schumer created and is writing and starring in Inside Amy Schumer and, like them, she also has seen her profile and feature career take off. Will she also stop at five seasons?
“There is a natural life to (sketch comedy series),” said Kent Alterman, President of Original Programming for Comedy Central, pointing to such examples as Mr. Show and The Kids In The Hall and stressing how challenging it is to keep a sketch comedy going for a long time. “We never have unrealistic expectations that they would go as long as a narrative show would; it’s harder to project with a sketch show.”
The network’s new slate also includes talent development deals with The Daily Show correspondents Jessica Williams and Jordan Klepper, who are headlining pilots, a narrative one (Williams) including a late-night presentation (Klepper).
Given the fact that two former Daily Show correspondents, John Oliver and Samantha Bee, went on to launch breakout new late-night shows on other networks, are the deals with Williams and Klepper a way to give Daily Show talent opportunities to stay in the fold as they grow?
Alterman noted Comedy Central’s history with Stephen Colbert who went from a correspondent on The Daily Show to headlining the successful offshoot The Colbert Report on the network.
Still, in light of some high-profile departures, “given the choice for people to use The Daily Show as a platform to go to other places or stay at Comedy Central, I prefer the latter,” Alterman said.
Klepper will star in a late-night talk show presentation revolving around social, cultural and political issues. The potential show could air as a strip at 12:30 AM or at 10 PM or 10:30 PM on a weeknight but it will have no implications on Comedy Central’s current late-night lineup, Alterman said.
There are no late-night changes planned for the foreseeable future, with The Daily Show at 11 PM, The Nightly Show at 11:30 PM and @midnight at midnight.
While the new Daily Show host, 32-year-old South African Trevor Noah, is yet to win over critics, and ratings for the venerable franchise are down year-to-year, Comedy Central president Michele Ganeless noted that the show is No 1 with millennials, it has posted four consecutive months of ratings growth and is getting more traction in the international marketplace than The Daily Show With Jon Stewart, with sales in some 170 territories.