Wendy Williams has every right to go on a full nationwide tour. The radio DJ turned TV personality has bags of relevant experience — she’s competed on Dancing with the Stars, taken on Broadway in the revival of the beloved musical Chicago, and she’s been nominated in the Outstanding Entertainment Talk Show Host category at the Daytime Emmy Awards for The Wendy Williams Show on four different occasions. She even has previous experience when it comes to stand-up comedy and headlining a nationwide tour. Williams is a big draw on paper, and in fact, the 2019 tour (Wendy Williams & Friends: For the Record… UMM HMMM!) reportedly started off on a high note, so why did it end in such a disaster?
Williams hasn’t given any public notification that the tour is officially cancelled, but as of this writing, all of her tour dates that were previously available through Ticketmaster have been cancelled.
It turns out there were many contributing factors to the epic fail, including the undeniable complication that Williams has been dealing with a lot of personal issues these past few years, from bouts of ill health to battles with sobriety. Her tour was meant to be her way of bouncing back, but it’s backfired on her big time. Here’s why Wendy Williams had to cancel her ill-fated tour.
People weren’t into the ‘friends’ Wendy Williams brought on tour
Wendy Williams told the Daily News that the audience at the first show of the Wendy Williams & Friends: For the Record… UMM HMMM! tour was in such hysterics that they « were weak » and « laughing and falling down. » She claimed that « over 2,000 people » gave her a « standing ovation » and that she « couldn’t be more happy with the friends that were along with me. » We’ve got no doubt that some of the people who who turned out at Oakland’s Paramount Theater enjoyed the opening show, but, truth be told, the reaction from those who attended was pretty mixed. In fact, some paying customers didn’t even bother staying until the end of the show because they found the supporting acts too boring to sit through.
« The show could of been more enjoyable without the unknown comedians who weren’t that funny, » Wendy Williams fan Raul Valadao said (via Goldstar). « I left after two hours and there were still two more comedians left to see. The show could of been cut in half and only featured Wendy Williams. » Attendee Jacqueline Maiden was also disappointed with the lack of Williams and the « friends » that she brought along. « The only comedian I liked was the last lady they had on, » Maiden said. « I would not pay to see this again. » With feedback like that, is it any wonder Williams started pulling out of shows?
Wendy Williams would apparently prefer to party than attend her own tour
The first sign that things were not quite going to plan with the Wendy Williams & Friends: For the Record… UMM HMMM! tour came at the beginning of August 2019. Wendy Williams had dates booked in Detroit, Mich. and St. Petersburg, Fla. that month, but the troubled talk show host decided to push them both back to the fall, citing « scheduling issues » as the reason. Speaking anonymously to Page Six, one tour insider claimed that the picture behind the scenes wasn’t pretty. « The tour is shaping up to be a disaster, » the source said. « What other dates have been ‘rescheduled’ that nobody knows about yet? »
As a quick glance at her Instagram reveals, Williams’ so-called « scheduling issues » were not business related. The TV personality posted photos from what looked like a pretty wild weekend in New York City to her feed, even though she should have been on stage performing her show at the time. She might have a core group of dedicated fans, but not many people are going to buy tickets to a show that might not go ahead because the star decides to hit the town with friends at the last minute instead.
Detractors say Wendy Williams is ‘incapable of staying on track’
Wendy Williams blamed a scheduling conflict when she canceled her Detroit, Mich. and St. Petersburg, Fla. dates at the drop of a hat, and she used the exact same excuse when she pulled out of a show in her home town. « This event has been cancelled due to an unforeseen scheduling conflict, » the New Jersey Performing Art Center informed customers on its official website. This came soon after Williams had waxed lyrical about New Jersey while speaking with the Daily News. « There’s no place like home, you know, » she said when asked about her then-upcoming Newark show.
For some of the people that work with her, the fact that Williams used the same tired excuse for yet another show was apparently unacceptable. « Wendy is proving to everyone that’s been pulling for her that she’s incapable of staying on track, » a source with inside knowledge of the Wendy Williams & Friends: For the Record… UMM HMMM! tour told Page Six. « What happened to the strong businesswoman she’s claiming to be who was taking charge and doing big things? If anything, this mess of a tour has proven she can’t do anything for herself. » Naturally, Williams’ reps declined to comment.
Was Wendy Williams even selling enough tickets to support the tour?
Some people might have bought her story had the cancellations stopped at Detroit, Mich., St. Petersburg, Fla., and Newark, N.J., but when Wendy Williams pulled another four dates from her Wendy Williams & Friends: For the Record… UMM HMMM! tour, suspicion that she hadn’t been entirely truthful about those apparent scheduling conflicts was rife. The TV personality pulled out of a show in Cleveland, Ohio; two shows set to take place over consecutive nights in Atlanta, Ga.; and another show in Philadelphia, Pa. Williams even canned the rearranged Detroit show, leading the press to one conclusion — she was struggling to sell tickets.
After a little digging, RadarOnline discovered that the box office receipts for Williams’ tour made for some grim reading. « Although it is unclear if low-ticket sales caused the cancellations, she has struggled to sell seats in Cleveland and Philadelphia, as two-third of tickets were still for sale before being called off, » the website reported. Page Six sources gave similar intel. « Low ticket sales have reportedly been the cause of the cancellations, » the New York Post-affiliated celeb site claimed.
Venues started posting a fishy explanation for Wendy Williams’ cancelled tour dates
When the venues that Wendy Williams was standing up started to post notifications of the cancellations on their respective websites, the message was loud and clear — the negative media attention surrounding the talk show host was to blame. « We always want to be able to give the fans the best show ever, » the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts wrote in a notification to fans. « With that said, the same excitement, intensity and headlines that fueled Wendy Williams & Friends: For the Record… UMM HMMM! Comedy Tour has also fueled the cancellation of the show. »
The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra website released a nearly identical statement, which continued: « Unfortunately, the goal and purpose of the tour has been sidelined by the headlines. The show may be canceled, but Wendy’s commitment and love for all of the fans that support her and continue to support her never will. » Call us cynics, but it seems like Williams and/or her team fed these statements to the venues she couldn’t fill. The message offers no real explanation for the cancellation outside of negative headlines, playing more like an apology to the few people that actually went out and purchased tickets.
Wendy Williams didn’t even get to her first tour stop on time
Sometimes celebs can’t help being late to engagements, but when you’re headlining your own tour, the least you can do is make it to the very first show on time. That was apparently too much to ask of Wendy Williams, who kept her paying customers at Oakland’s Paramount Theater waiting. « I didn’t like that the show was 30 minutes late with no announcement, » one attendee, Dorothea Carroll-Elumbaa, said (via Goldstar). Another fan, D’boraah Peters, claimed that Williams left them hanging even longer than that. « I was disappointed that Wendy Williams was 45 minutes late, » they said. « Her presentation was just like her talk show. I left at intermission. »
These two fans clearly felt wronged, but at least they got to see some of the show, unlike those who purchased tickets for later, eventually cancelled dates. How does Williams feel about those people? Judging by the comments she made about Nicki Minaj bailing on a concert in March 2019, she thinks it’s totally fine to cancel on fans. « I think she did the right thing, » Williams said when Minaj pulled out of a gig hours before it was due to start because of unspecified technical difficulties (via Hollywood Life).
Williams set a bad precedent when she was late for the first show of her tour, and if her recent interactions with her fans are anything to go by, perhaps she really doesn’t even care about abandoning shows.
We need to talk about Kevin
The primary reason for Wendy Williams’ tour going off the rails appears to be the « disastrous ticket sales, » as a Daily Mail source put it. But there’s also a good chance that her turbulent personal life influenced her decision to pull several dates. In 2019, the talk show host filed for divorce from her husband, Kevin Hunter, after he allegedly fathered a lovechild with a mistress. She claimed to be « healthy » and « happy » when she was a guest on the Karen Hunter Show, but the fact that she almost broke down in tears while discussing her estranged husband suggested that the latter part may not be strictly true.
Williams married Hunter in 1997. He was her manager, as well as a producer on her show, for a long time, but when his name was removed from the credits of The Wendy Williams Show, it became clear that the host was going it alone professionally as well as personally. It was supposed to be the beginning of a fresh start for Williams, but an insider from her 2019 tour soon revealed that things were not going well behind closed doors. « As per usual, even without Kevin as Wendy’s manager, she’s proving herself to be messy, » the source told Page Six, adding, « Guess it’s not a full ‘hot girl summer’ for her after all since she’s giving fans reasons to think nothing has really changed. »
Wendy Williams didn’t learn from previous tour mishaps
Remember when we said that Wendy Williams had already been on a nationwide tour? Well, her Sit Down Tour… Too Real For Stand Up shows didn’t exactly go to plan, either. Various sources claimed that Williams failed to fill the venues she booked when she hit the road in 2019, and judging by a review of her 2015 tour, she really ought to have learned her lesson by now. One of her first stops on that 2015 tour was North Carolina’s Durham Performing Arts Center, and attendance was noticeably sparse on the night, as well.
« DPAC normally fills to capacity for a well-known performer, but Friday’s show barely filled half of the first floor, » Dawn Reno Langley wrote in her review for Triangle Arts & Entertainment. « A scheduled intermission before Williams’ appearance encouraged audience members to fill in the orchestra pit, which made it even more evident that the theater was fairly empty. » Williams’ shtick works well in a talk show setting, but it clearly isn’t suited to a less-intimate stage, something she no-doubt remembered once her big 2019 tour started to similarly hit the skids. Did she get cold feet and start pulling out of shows?
Did Wendy Williams even know what this tour was supposed to be?
When she saw Williams on her 2015 tour, critic Dawn Reno Langley argued that the talk show host wasn’t going to pull the crowds in because she wasn’t comfortable with what she was doing. According to Langley, Williams looked almost « embarrassed » to be sharing her intimate stories at times, seeking constant reassurance from the audience like it was an after-hours episode of The Wendy Williams Show. « ‘Do you understand what I’m saying?’ Williams asked the audience, » Langley recalled (via Triangle Arts & Entertainment). « She asked for that feedback regularly, leading this reviewer to believe that the larger venue might not be the right one for this show. … At times, the show struggled with its intention to be a ‘non-daytime show.' »
If Williams had chosen smaller venues for her 2019 tour, would it have bombed? Maybe not, but it’s not just the size of the venue that matters. If Williams failed to correct the things that backfired on her during the 2015 tour, then the 2019 tour was always bound to fail, and that seems to have been the case. « Was hoping/expecting more of her personal story, like a monologue, in her own words, » Jacob Levine, who attended opening night in Oakland, said (via Goldstar). « Need more description prior to paying for this, would not have gone if I knew this format in advance. »
Did Wendy Williams fail to perfect her act in time?
Wendy Williams claimed that the first night of her 2019 Wendy Williams & Friends: For the Record… UMM HMMM! tour was « a smash » when she spoke to the Daily News, but unless she’s done some serious practice gigging in secret since 2015’s Sit Down Tour… Too Real For Stand Up, we find that a little hard to believe. It’s not that we don’t have faith in Williams, it’s just that when she hit the road in 2015, her act was reportedly all over the place. « I couldn’t help but wonder how much better the night would have been if Ms. Williams teamed up with a writer or director to really flesh out a more solid outline to her performance, » Philadelphia magazine’s Bryan Buttler wrote in his review, adding that her « sit-down stand-up act » needed some shape.
Of course Williams was going to say that the first night of her 2019 tour was a hit, but as we previously mentioned, we know now that not everyone who showed up at the Oakland opener enjoyed it. There’s a chance that Williams remembered just how hard it is to hold a crowd in such a setting when she returned to the stage in 2019, and decided to cancel while she still could. Whatever her reason, it’s safe to say we probably won’t be seeing Wendy Williams out on the road again for quite some time.