SUPERWOMAN

NBC is bringing Lilly Singh’s superpowers to late-night TV

NBC’s newest late-night host.
NBC’s newest late-night host.
Image: Invision/AP/Jordan Strauss
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YouTube star Lilly Singh tweeted in February that being a woman of color and bisexual have been obstacles in her past. “But now,” she said, “I’m fully embracing them as my superpowers.” 

Also among the Indian-Canadian Singh’s superpowers are gifts for comedy and connection, which have helped her to amass more than 14.5 million subscribers to her YouTube channel, IISuperwomanII. Her videos include rants (against dating apps, for instance); skits (Singh as her own immigrant parents); collaborations (Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson, Priyanka Chopra); and a “battle of the sexes” series decoding topics from menstruation to women’s facial expressions. 

Now, Singh is bringing her perspective and humor to NBC, where she’ll join the boys club of late-night talk shows, replacing Carson Daly as the host in the network’s 1:35 am time slot. The new show, A Little Late with Lilly Singh, will launch in September, making her the only woman hosting a daily late-night talk show on a major broadcast network, and marking a major mainstream crossover for a YouTube star to network television.

It’s a smart move for NBC to choose a host who comes with a built-in audience of millions. And late-night seems a logical point of entry for a social media star like Singh, whose popularity is predicated upon playing a heightened-yet-approachable version of herself—not unlike her new NBC cohorts Seth Meyers and Jimmy Fallon (though they both took a more traditional path via improv, stand-up, and sketch comedy on Saturday Night Live). The actor Busy Phillips, who has had a second coming thanks to her success on Instagram stories, also now hosts a late-night show on E!, Busy Tonight. 

The line between television and social media has already been largely eroded, with many of us consuming late-night network and cable television mainly as clips that circulate the day after they air. A few weeks ago, Jimmy Fallon announced his show’s YouTube channel had reached 20 million subscribers. And the video of Singh announcing her new show last night (March 14) on Fallon’s show already has over half a million views on YouTube.

When asked by Fallon what the show will be, Singh said it will include comedy segments and interviews. ”Kind of like my YouTube channel, but just you know, now I have more than three staff members,” she added. “And my sound guy won’t also be an extra and won’t also write the script.”