The newest entry in the late night game is walking a fine line.
A Little Late With Lilly Singh has the unenviable task of conforming to the expected standard of late night television, while concurrently infusing enough new life into the medium so as to be considered fresh and different.
“I would say we were a little wobbly in our first two weeks, as expected,” says Executive Producer John Irwin, President of Irwin Entertainment. “But, I feel like now we’ve really started to find our stride.”
Singh, a Canadian YouTuber, comedian and actress, is, simply by her mere presence in this arena, different. Amid a sea of white male hosts – Colbert, Kimmel, Fallon, Meyers and Corden – Singh is VERY different as her heritage is Punjabi and she was raised in the Sikh tradition.
“This show has all the trappings of a late night series, and that’s on purpose, because you don’t want to turn a wheel into a square,” says Irwin. But, he says that they’re switching it up by refreshing the format on a continual basis. “Sometimes the monologue will connect to a sketch. Sometimes we’ll jump into a bit right in the middle of an interview, maybe we play a game with our guest. It’s all about figuring out different ways to infuse as much comedy in as possible.”
But, even with all of these elements, the most unique thing about this series is actually Singh, believes Irwin. “Most of the hosts don’t bring their own lives into what they’re talking about. Lilly’s monologues really stem from her personal experiences, It’s almost like she’s opposed to just talking about topical news. Whether it’s dating, or living alone, or smoking weed for the first time. every one of these things she talks about comes from a very personal place.”
To achieve this level of intimacy with her audience, Irwin says that Singh is very involved in all aspects of crafting the series. “Of course she works hard on the monologue because it’s so personal for her, but I think a lot of times the hardest part of the job is interviewing people and so we’re working to do a less formal interview and have more interaction with Lilly. She really works at taking guests to places that you don’t normally see them going on other shows.”
Irwin and his team are also acutely aware that because their show is on in the wee hours, it’s important to spark conversation about the series via social media. This is fitting since Singh comes from that world, says Irwin. “On social media is were people first became aware of Lilly’s talents, so we’ve have a very hardcore social campaign on Instagram, and YouTube. We spend about a good deal of time each night doing things that are just for social. If you go to Instagram right now, you’ll see that every show has its own online campaign.”
The pressure from the public for a female-fronted nightly talk-show has been building for years. Because of this, Irwin knows that all eyes are on A Little Late, but he insists that this hasn’t phased anyone working on the series. “We’ve really just been keeping our heads down and doing the work. We’re not looking outside of that. It’s a huge endeavor just to launch a new show so the real pressure isn’t on who’s on-camera, it’s more about making the show successful overall.”
The key to that success, says Irwin, is continuing to build a relationship with viewers. “The truth is, it doesn’t matter what kind of comedy you’re doing because, to a certain extent, all of the late night shows are doing similar stuff. What people turn in for is to spend time with someone they connect with. Lilly wants people to see that we all struggle from the same types of issues and at the end of the day, that’s the most important thing. She’s here for people – to make them feel at ease, to laugh, just to feel whatever they want to feel. She really is.”
‘A Little Later With Lilly Singh’ airs weeknights at 1:35/12:35 a.m. on NBC.