On Thursday’s episode of The Nightly Show, Larry Wilmore brought all his contributors out for one last summit. They told backstage stories, sipping from ridiculous-looking cups. “I don’t drink, personally,” writer-performer Robin Thede tells The A.V. Club. “I had water in the final panel, but everyone else definitely had alcohol.” Booze did end up being the theme of the week: On air, Wilmore had a running gag about the gifts from other late night hosts—Samantha Bee sent wine, Stephen Colbert provided mini liquor bottles, and John Oliver went for champagne, being a classy British bastard. Wilmore mocked the fact that The Daily Show gave pastries.
The beverages were put to good use on screen and off. Thede noted that a “a healthy amount of that was consumed during work hours, for sure,” though, she added, not by the crew members who still had to operate heavy machinery. “They were taking it home, I’m sure,” she added. But, aside from getting people deservedly tipsy, it was also good fodder for content. “The stories we covered were things that fit with the brand, but then also we knew it it was the last week so we were going to have a lot of fun, and a lot of the late night shows were inadvertently creating that material for us by sending us tons of alcohol,” Thede explained. “We were just like, okay, let’s just go with this. None of that was a gag, none of it was planned. We just reacted to how the world was reacting to us, which is kind of the theme of the show. We always want to have conversations that are real and keep it 100 and in our last week we were sad and we said that and we enjoyed the love that was coming from people. We just wanted to celebrate that.”
That’s not to say it was an entire week full of on screen ragers. “We took down Cosby one last time, we talked about the election,” Thede pointed out. (During Monday’s show, Wilmore endorsed Hillary Clinton.) The concluding episode featured a heartfelt tribute from executive producer Jon Stewart, who lauded the show for starting a “conversation” that wasn’t previously on television, and how that will carry on as the staff moves to new gigs. “He said that to us all day. He kept saying it. It took me a minute to really understand what he was saying,” Thede said. “But he was really trying to point out that the cultural phenomenon of the show will far out live it being on the air, and the conversation that we started is something we should be really proud of, and that means the most, honestly.”
Though she transitioned into a role that allowed her more screen time, Thede was The Nightly Show’s head writer at its outset. She was also the first black woman to hold that position on late night. “For me I think what I’ll take away from the show’s legacy is that you can’t be afraid to talk about things just because they make you uncomfortable,” she said. “I think that we are all much more alike than we are different. And I think that can overcome the evils of the world by continuing to get to know people who are different than us. And also that things change. Just because you did something one way 50 years ago doesn’t mean that it’s still okay today.”
Comedy Central announced The Nightly Show’s cancellation Monday. It began in January 2015.