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Meet Lilly Singh, NBC's First Female Late Night Host Ever

What you need to know about the popular YouTuber whose NBC late night show premieres Monday night.
  • Lilly Singh hosts NBC's A Little Late with Lilly Singh. (Photo: Ryan Pfluger/NBC)
    Lilly Singh hosts NBC's A Little Late with Lilly Singh. (Photo: Ryan Pfluger/NBC)

    When Carson Daly vacated NBC’s late-late-late-night time slot last May after a staggering seventeen years, it was well past time to bring some fresh energy to late night. Enter Lilly Singh, a 30-year-old Indian-Canadian social media mogul/writer/actress, whose new show, A Little Late With Lilly Singh, debuts this week with a star-studded lineup and a full program of sketches, musical numbers, games, and more. (Mindy Kaling, Kenan Thompson, Chelsea Handler, and Tracee Ellis Ross are all scheduled to appear in the first few episodes.)

    Once Singh makes the jump from your computer screen to your television screen, she’ll be the first woman to host a late-night talk show on NBC ever. (Of the broadcast networks, only Fox has had a female late night talk show host -- two, if you count Wanda Sykes' Saturday night talk show.) Considering that NBC is the network that invented the late night talk show, that's a big deal.

    An even bigger deal is how she came to the position. Singh rose to fame on YouTube, meaning you either have no idea who she is or you can’t fathom that anybody would not know who she is, depending on the circles you run in. Her channel, IISuperwomanII, has featured guest appearances from the likes of The Rock, Selena Gomez, Zendaya and Alicia Keys, and she’s leveraged her YouTube fame into acting roles in Bad Moms and Fahrenheit 451 as well as a best-selling nonfiction book, "How to Be a Bawse: A Guide to Conquering Life."

    The rainbow-and-unicorn themed logo marching across the screen at the top of each of her YouTube videos is a good indicator of Singh’s overall brand: full of earnest delight and positivity. She tempers her sunny message with just the right touch of snark and a level of self-deprecation that keeps her down-to-earth without being a total downer. Her overall message: be true to yourself, keep a positive attitude, and hustle hard.

    The videos themselves are a hodgepodge of comedy sketches that draw from pop culture tropes (“Types of Best Friends in Rom-Coms,” “If Rappers Were News Reporters”) as well as her own life experiences: even while cracking jokes, she’s surprisingly candid about growing up with traditionally-minded Indian parents, her sexuality (Singh announced she was bisexual this past February), her cultural identity, and her struggles with anxiety.

    Obviously, we can expect Singh to bring a YouTube sensibility to her comedy segments: snappy, short, and infinitely shareable. What’s more, she comes armed with dozens of the types of recurring segments and callbacks that late-night fans love. As a host, she’ll bring the goofy, manic energy of Jimmy Fallon and the self-deprecating snark of Conan O’Brien. As the first woman, the first person of color and the first LGBTQ+ to ever host a late night show on NBC, she’s representing voices that have rarely been heard in the late-night space. In addition to Singh herself, the writers’ room on her new show is 50% female, and she’s been vocal about making sure a diverse array of voices and performers will be represented.

    Keeping to her YouTube roots, A Little Late With Lilly Singh’s premiere will drop early in a live stream on NBC’s YouTube channel Monday night at 10pm. And while it seems likely that her dedicated fanbase of YouTube mavens will be tuning in, NBC hopes to introduce newcomers to the show, giving Singh her very own primetime special on Wednesday Sept 18 -- her third night on the air. 

    Will you be watching A Little Late With Lilly Singh? Weigh in on our forums.

    Jessica Liese has been writing and podcasting about TV since 2012. Follow her on Twitter at @HaymakerHattie

    TOPICS: A Little Late with Lilly Singh, NBC, YouTube, Lilly Singh, Late Night