In the new age of mixed media, sometimes it’s hard to tell if there are any boundaries between platforms. Will Smith is on YouTube, you can watch YouTube on television and now YouTuber Lilly Singh (IISuperwomanII) has taken over “Last Call with Carson Daly” with a late-night talk show of her own, “A Little Late with Lilly Singh.” As the first bisexual woman of color on lineup to host late-night television, Singh comes in with fervent energy and a new perspective. The transition from YouTube skits to late-night TV is slightly awkward, but it’s a start nonetheless, and with a bit more time to hit her stride, Singh can rise through the ranks and easily find her niche in the late-night space.
The pilot starts off with a musical skit that reflects her peak YouTube days, and she doesn’t hesitate to call out the lack of diversity in Hollywood production and late-night television. The skit transitions to a rap dedicated to her workplace’s diversity and inclusivity standards, which can’t help but make political commentary on the nation’s current state. Whether this move brought in or expelled viewers is hard to tell, but her words were intentional and it likely had exactly the effect she intended.
She first brings on Rainn Wilson (“Mom”) in a forced but clever bit about white noise machines, wherein the machine would make noises of white girls at brunch and the sound of Birkenstocks when they step. It’s a refreshing introduction to a late-night show that doesn’t consist of a rundown of the stupidest Trump tweets that week (although he does give comedy a lot of material to work with), and with Singh’s energy and sketch comedy background, there’s potential to get into some good material in the future. The scripted “surprise” guests are a classic and familiar device in late-night television, but on this particular episode it feels less surprising and more trying on the audience’s humor. But again, it’s a pilot and there’s plenty of time to improve.
Her one and only interviewed guest was Wilson’s “The Office” co-star, Mindy Kaling (“It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”). Singh began with recognizing and thanking Kaling for paving the way for minorities like her, something that other late-night hosts don’t have the prerogative to talk about. It made the environment feel more natural, and Singh could smoothly transition from making jokes to making sure all necessary questions were answered. She can easily maintain this tone in her future interviews without it going sour. She might have been able to interview Kaling for a little longer, but she instead jumped right into two minigames. One was a “Euphoria” makeup inspired game, and the other an Urban Dictionary-type game where Kaling guesses the meaning of modern slang terms. They’re entertaining enough, but given the half-hour time slot NBC gave her, it felt rushed.
There’s little else to say. It’s irrational to be harsh toward a pilot of a late-night talk show, a flexible platform that can spin and adapt in any direction. It’ll be interesting to see how much Singh can improve from here on out, and especially interesting to see her fresh perspective given the current political and social climate. For now though, she’s definitely made an impression as a new host in this space and will likely continue to do so as the season goes on.