Tonight at midnight, an era comes to an end.
@midnight debuted in October 2013 and quickly became one of U.S. TV's first and only successful panel shows in recent memory, combining a trio of comedians with social media and the internet in a way that had never really been done on TV before, led by host Chris Hardwick.
Even though it has only been around for almost four years, tonight's finale brings the show's episode count to 600, and @midnight can boast two Emmys for Outstanding Creative Achievement in Interactive Media Social TV Experience in both 2015 and 2016. The show has turned relatively unknown comedians into household names. Its hashtags land in Twitter's trending topics on a near-nightly basis, and for anyone who follows any number of comedians on Twitter, it's hard not to notice when everyone is suddenly making TV shows Canadian or taking letters off of band names.
@midnight has accomplished a lot in its four short years, and that's partly why Hardwick, Comedy Central, and Funny or Die came to the mutual decision to end it.
"It's a difficult thing to not do a show anymore, but I think we just sort of felt like, what else do we do with this?" Hardwick told E! News at EW's 2017 Comic-Con Bash. "The show, when we put it on the air, was innovative, at least in the states. There's panel shows in Britain, but here, there really isn't another show like it. And it was built on social media, and there wasn't really another show doing that, but just because of the way social media and technology and the internet moves, I think we were right on the precipice of the show starting to feel outdated."
"It was a bummer, but I really think we were just about to run out of hashtags," he continued.
Hardwick also explained that the network is looking to narrow its focus.
"Comedy Central really wants to focus on politics in late night," he said. "So to have like, a political show and then our silly show about the internet...we tried to do politics a little bit but it just doesn't really work as well."
That's understandable in this political climate and with today's ultra-competitive late night space. As a so-called "silly show about the internet," @midnight has never really been the platform for serious political discussion, no matter how great it is at handling any and all covfefes that come its way. But it has also been nice to have that time every night (whether it's actually at midnight or at 11:30) that's both fully plugged into the news and separate from it at the same time.
For nearly its entire run, @midnight has been a happy place where we could all just hang out with the best parts of the internet and social media and make joyful fun of the worst parts. It's great when the jokes are good, but almost funnier when the jokes—usually thought up on the spot by professional, seasoned comedians—are bad. And even when the jokes are mean, the show is still about as nice as a comedy show filled with penis jokes could get—unless you were The Cheesecake Factory or currently are Bubba Gump Shrimp.
Plus, as Hardwick said, the format of @midnight isn't one that has really caught on in the U.S. Panel shows are all over TV in the UK, where shows like 8 Out of 10 Cats and QI feature comedians and other celebs answering questions on all kinds of topics in the name of comedy, but the states are sorely lacking in those kinds of platforms. @midnight brought that format to the U.S. with a social media twist and some American enthusiasm, and turned it into something we'll hopefully all miss when it's gone. And hopefully, someone will want to try it again, if only to find new ways to make Ron Funches giggle.
@midnight's hour-long finale airs tonight at midnight on Comedy Central.