Late Night Lately: Lilly Singh Makes Her Debut, Kimmel's Positivity Roast, Colbert's Ric Ocasek Tribute

8:00 AM 9/21/2019

by Jennifer Konerman

The Hollywood Reporter's Late Night Lately rounds up the best sketches and guests with a look at what's to come next week.

Courtesy of Networks

The Hollywood Reporter's Late Night Lately is a one-stop shop for all of the most memorable moments of late-night TV, coming to you each Saturday morning to ease you into your weekend.

So pour your coffee, set your DVR for the week and sit back. Below are a few of the week's best, funniest and strangest late-night moments that you can't afford to miss.

This week: YouTube star Lilly Singh made her late-night debut on NBC with the new show A Little Late With Lilly Singh. She kicked off the series with guest Mindy Kaling, a musical performance and new monologue. Meanwhile, Jimmy Kimmel invited some famous friends to take part in his "Positivity Roast," with Whitney Cummings, Henry Winkler, Natasha Leggero and Jeffrey Ross. Stephen Colbert paid tribute to the late rocker Ric Ocasek, Margaret Atwood told Seth Meyers what inspired her latest novel and Trevor Noah spoke to Edward Snowden about being sued by the government. 

— Compiled by Jennifer Konerman  

  • Lilly Singh Calls Out Late Night's Whiteness in 'A Little Late' Premiere

    Scott Angelheart/NBC

    YouTube creator turned late-night host Lilly Singh rapped atop a table, played a game with Mindy Kaling and called out the overall whiteness of late-night TV in the first-ever episode of A Little Late With Lilly Singh on NBC on Monday.

    Joined by guests Kaling and Rainn Wilson, Singh addressed Singh's singularity on late-night TV, both current and historic: She's a bisexual woman of color (as Singh addressed later in her monologue, she is currently the only female host of broadcast late night, and the first openly bisexual woman of color to host a late-night show). In a pre-taped segment, Singh played herself entering a room of white male executives who were excited about planning her show. Though they invited her to take a seat at their conference table, she had to push two men aside to sit. 

    In the YouTuber's monologue Singh joked about how media outlets had pigeonholed her as a new standard for diversity in late night. "As a woman, I'm especially excited to join this group of people," Singh said as a picture of all-white broadcast late-night hosts appeared onscreen. She joked that she and Hasan Minhaj of Netflix's Patriot Act "look like the IT department in their [the current late-night hosts'] law firm."

    Later in the monologue, she added, "Maybe I shouldn't be joking about this, because one of the biggest fears of white America is that minorities are coming to take their jobs, and honestly, we are."

    Kaling's subsequent appearance was more of a classic late-night sit-down interview, which kicked off with Kaling telling Singh how proud she was of her. Singh noted that Kaling's apperance was timely, given that she played a severely outnumbered woman of color on a late-night show's writing staff in her summer film Late Night. "Has NBC ever had this many Indian women on at one time?" Kaling responded. "If I had, growing up, seen you on TV...to have had you, I mean, it's huge. I can't wait for the daughter to watch this show 20 years from now when you're still doing it and you're wishing you don't have to."

    The two discussed pop-culture trends Kaling would write into The Office if it were still running today (she'd like to see Michael Scott "dab" and post thirsty Instagrams), her love of HBO's Euphoria and the public casting call for an upcoming Hulu show based on Kaling's life. They also played games, one where Kaling and Singh had 30 seconds to put on Euphoria-inspired "cloud liner" eye makeup and another where Kaling had to guess a word based on its old-school definition and its new definition. She guessed the first ("Gucci") but not the next two ("snatched" and "no cap").

  • Kimmel Enlists Whitney Cummings, Henry Winkler for "Positivity Roast"

    Getty Images

    After Alec Baldwin sat in the hot seat for a new Comedy Central Roast, Jimmy Kimmel enlisted some friends to poke fun at the theme of the special. Recognizing that the roasts can usually be brutal, Kimmel elected to broadcast a revamped show he dubbed "Positivity Roast" to "appeal to those who aren't comfortable with traditional roast-y humor." 

    With help from stars Whitney Cummings, Henry Winkler, Natasha Leggero and Jeffrey Ross, the comedians took turns offering compliments to previous stars roasted on the show. 

    "Jonah Hill is here tonight. Jonah, you're like a jellyfish. Gentle, easy-going and super fun to watch," Cummings said. 

    Meanwhile, Kimmel offered some compliments to Hart. "My friend Kevin Hart is here. Kevin, listen I don't want to say Kevin is short because I believe that God made us all the perfect size. Everyone is equal." 

    Winkler poked some goodhearted fun at Snoop Dogg. "Snoop Dogg is here so I'm going to need someone to walk me to my car because I've got a present for you, Snoop, right out there in my trunk," he said.

    "Jeff Ross is so Jewish that I want to wish him a happy and healthy Rosh Hashanah," Leggero added. 

  • Stephen Colbert Remembers Ric Ocasek: "His Music Was the Soundtrack of My High School"

    Getty Images

    Stephen Colbert paid tribute to Ric Ocasek on Monday's Late Show.

    Ocasek died Sunday after being found unresponsive in his Manhattan townhouse.

    The late-night show segment opened with the house band playing "Candy-O" by The Cars, which was written by Ocasek. The host shared that Ocasek was the first star he saw in New York City when he was visiting friends in college. "I was down at Greenwich Village getting a cup of coffee, sitting on the sidewalk and Ric fucking Ocasek walked by and I went, 'I have to move here,'" Colbert shared.

    "Ric Ocasek was already 34 years old when their first album came out. He had put in the hours and his music — he wrote everything for The Cars — and his music was the soundtrack of my high school," Colbert said. "The Cars' The Cars came out when I was a freshman. Next year, Candy-O. Next year, Panorama. Then Shake It Up."

    "I couldn't believe it when Ric Ocasek came on The Colbert Report," he continued. "I got to meet one of my greatest musical heroes, and then he started doing bits on the show. We would send him out to do commando raids for us."

    "Ric, thank you so much for all your music. Thank you for playing for our stupid show and let's go," Colbert said at the conclusion of the segment. The final line was a reference to the band's 1979 song "Let's Go."

  • Margaret Atwood Says Trump Election Inspired 'The Testaments'

    Lloyd Bishop/NBC

    Margaret Atwood stopped by Late Night With Seth Meyers on Thursday to discuss the release of her highly anticipated book The Testaments, a sequel to The Handmaid's Tale 15 years after the original ending.  

    Cultural and political observers have noted that the themes and concepts of The Handmaid's Tale seem to parallel today's climate, in particular with the Trump administration making repeated strikes against the rights of women, immigrants, LGBTQ individuals and other marginalized communities. Meyers was quick to note the similarities. "I thought this book was a reaction to what happened in 2016. Did it inform how you wrote it?" 

    "It put wind in my sails, let's put it that way," the author said with a smile on her face. "It encouraged me." 

    Atwood reiterated that "each detail is plucked from reality" so nothing she wrote has not occurred already.

    When asked whether she watches Hulu's adaptation of her book or has connected with the showrunners, Atwood simply quipped: "I even have a credit." 

  • Trevor Noah Talks to Edward Snowden About New Book, Being Sued by the Government

    Sean Gallagher/Comedy Central

    Following the release of his tell-all book Permanent Record, Edward Snowden appeared via video feed as a guest on The Daily Show on Thursday, where he talked with Trevor Noah about the memoir and getting sued by the government. 

    After the former CIA employee leaked classified documents from the National Security Agency about government surveillance operations in 2013, he sought asylum in Moscow. The preface of his book states, "The reason you’re reading this book is that I did a dangerous thing for a man in my position: I decided to tell the truth," Snowden writes. "I collected internal documents that gave evidence of the U.S. government’s lawbreaking and turned them over to a journalist, who vetted and published them to a scandalized world. This book is about what led up to that decision, the moral and ethical principles that informed it, and how they came to be — which means that it’s also about my life."

    Snowden is now being sued by the Department of Justice, alleging that he "violated his non-disclosure obligations to the United States" by not having the book reviewed before it was published. 

    During the show, Snowden explained his reaction to the lawsuit. "The nice thing about [getting sued] is, the book was not getting that much attention, it was like 25 on the charts. And then the government said, 'We don't want you to read this book. Sue Snowden as fast as you can, do anything to stop it, stop it, stop it,' and now we're No. 1, basically everywhere."

    Snowden then outlined his dilemma, and why he ultimately decided not to submit the book for review. "If the thing that you see in your secrecy agreement conflicts with that oath of service, if the thing you see is that the government itself, the agency itself, is actually violating that constitution — well, now you're kind of screwed. Then if you try to explain what happened, and if you write a book about how it happened and how we get out of it, and then you're supposed to send that book to the CIA, and let the CIA edit your life story... would you do that?"

    "I would not," said Noah. "I can safely say I would not." Snowden continued, "Me either."

  • Late Night Lineup: Sept. 22-28

    Monday, September 23
    Jimmy Kimmel Live!: The cast of the latest Charlie's Angels movie, Kristen Stewart, Naomi Scott, Ella Balinska and Elizabeth Banks, stop by the ABC show. 

    The Late Show With Stephen Colbert: Paul McCartney joins Colbert for a rare late night TV interview.

    Tuesday, September 24
    The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon: Demi Moore makes the late night rounds following the release of her autobiography, Inside Out.

    Thursday, September 26
    The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon: "Weekend Update" hosts Michael Che and Colin Jost join Fallon just ahead of SNL's season premiere.