The widely celebrated phenomenon of late night has its new star. Internet sensation, author and comedian Lilly Singh kicked off her own installment “A Little Late With Lilly Singh” on Sept. 16. Joining the NBC lineup of Jimmy Fallon and Seth Meyers, Singh’s hiring is monumental—becoming not only the youngest host at only 30, but also the first openly bisexual woman of color to take a spin at the host’s chair.
Late night talk shows have been a staple in pop culture since its genesis. From hilarious sketches featuring your favorite celebrities to the monologues filled with political satire, there’s a reason why this tradition has stood the test of time—even with the massive media transition in the past couple of years.
Every generation has a host they grew up with. Whether it’s Arsenio Hall or Conan O’Brien, there’s a sense of familiarity established when you watch them every night. For this generation, it makes perfect sense that Singh will become the new overseer of the late night legacy.
It’s crucial to note that Singh’s new position is huge for internet stars. For years, it’s been common for hosts to have an extensive background in the mainstream comedic scene—whether it was being a former cast member on SNL or having experience in sketch writing. Since 2010, Singh—under the username “IISuperwomanII”—has been posting a multitude of parodies and sketches on YouTube that have been widely received. Her following of over 14 million subscribers speaks for itself and makes her the rightful candidate spearheading the continuation of merging new media with the traditional.
Because of her young age, Singh will have more of a fresh perspective on the happenings of internet culture than her peers. Most late night material—from James Corden’s “Carpool Karaoke” to Fallon’s “Slow Jam the News”—are now primarily viewed and shared on YouTube, which Singh will embrace fully because of her experience with all aspects of the platform.
As huge as the late night avenue is, it’s hard to ignore the longstanding misrepresentation of women sitting at the big desk. There have only been a handful of female hosts in the decades long phenomenon. Long before her “Fashion Police” days, the late Joan Rivers became a household name when she frequently appeared on “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson” as a permanent guest host. After surprisingly not being named in a leaked memo of Carson’s list of possible successors, Rivers broke the glass ceiling in 1986 with her short-lived Fox version of “The Late Show.” Women like Chelsea Handler, Mo’Nique and Samantha Bee followed Rivers’ path much later, but not on any major network titans—which is another reason why Singh’s gig is an ultimate win.
It will be interesting to see how Singh will make the show her own. It is without a doubt that she’ll establish identifiable trademarks and moments that will eventually be among the list of her peers’ accomplishments. Hopefully, her historic example will keep the momentum going and increase the prevalence of a wider range of hosts.
Rylee Jackson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @rybyjackson.