this week in late night

Lilly Singh Discussing Queerness With Alok Vaid-Menon Won Late Night This Week

Alok Vaid-Menon, rocking a gorgeous red lip. Photo: Alok Vaid-Menon, rocking a gorgeous red lip.

Bundle up, folks, because Sir Punxsutawney Phil said there will be six more weeks of winter whether you like it or not. Yes, we’ve reached the second month of 2021, and thanks to a little rodent who absolutely hates to be perceived (okay, that literally could be me), it looks like our absolutely endless winter will continue on for six more unfathomable weeks. But for some late-night writers, there was good news this week as the writing staffs for Desus & Mero, The Late Show With Stephen Colbert, Full Frontal With Samantha Bee, Last Week Tonight With John Oliver, and Late Night With Seth Meyers picked up WGA nominations for Best Comedy/Variety Talk Series, while Peacock’s freshman series The Amber Ruffin Show got nominated for Comedy/Variety Sketch Series. Congrats to all! Elsewhere in the late-night cinematic universe, our hosts churned out Groundhog’s Day– and Super Bowl–related fare for the masses. Let’s dive in and see who scored a touchdown on late night this week.

5. Olivia Rodrigo Performs “Drivers License” on The Tonight Show

I have a confession to make. I am one of the millions of Americans who fully stan Olivia Rodrigo and her No. 1 song “Drivers License,” and I honestly do apologize for that. I am 27 years old and have had my driver’s license for almost eight years (I went to boarding school and failed my permit test the first time, so I got my license late, okay?), but what can I say? The song packs an emotional punch. On Thursday, Rodrigo sang her driving-power ballad (pun absolutely intended) on The Tonight Show, marking the song’s television debut, and boy did she deliver. Accompanying herself on the piano, the 17-year-old Rodrigo performed her song with a brand-new, string-heavy arrangement (strings = swoon, for me) and her wailing belt (it kind of sounds like she’s crying while she’s singing!), and I was deeply impressed. She also sang the whole bridge up an octave and boldly chose to end the song on an unresolved chord (my music-theory heads know what I’m talking about). It was an undeniable capital-M moment on late-night television and started trending with the hashtag #OliviaOnFallon almost immediately after it was over. Get used to the name Olivia Rodrigo, because she seems to be here to stay.

4. JoJo Siwa Gushes About Her Girlfriend on The Tonight Show

Wow, would you look at that. Two Tonight Show clips in a row! Yes, Jimmy Fallon’s show has graced the list once again for his interview with a different 17-year-old starlet, the immensely popular YouTuber and internet personality JoJo Siwa. On the offhand chance you’ve been living under a rock, you may not be aware that Siwa recently broke the internet when she came out of the closet as a member of the LGTBQ community without giving herself a specific label, which is rad and cool and awesome. On Wednesday, Siwa gave Fallon a little bit more information about what inspired her to come out, besides being gifted a truly amazing “Best Gay Cousin Ever” T-shirt by her cousin. It turns out Siwa has a girlfriend (!) who helped give the Dance Moms star the confidence to come out to the masses. While not revealing her partner’s identity, Siwa told Fallon that her girlfriend is “the most amazing, wonderful, perfect, most beautiful girlfriend in the whole world.” Imagine liking anything as much as JoJo Siwa likes her new girlfriend. Ah, young love!

3. Seth Meyers Takes “A Closer Look” at Marjorie Taylor Greene on Late Night

All right, enough with the mushy-gushy Valentine’s Day of it all, it’s time to get to Jewish space lasers. Even though Trump put the “ugly” in “resign ugly!” when he left the SAG-AFTRA association on Wednesday, the real political star of the week was Q-Anon conservative (and woman who looks like an extra in a Kohl’s commercial) Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene. Taylor Greene made waves this week for a handful of the many shockingly despicable and inane conspiracy theories she’s co-signed and/or put out into the world, which include but are not limited to calling the Parkland shooting a hoax and claiming 9/11 wasn’t real. While she’s backtracked those statements (but never apologized for them) and has been stripped of her House committee positions, she’s still a member of Congress and as such still has a platform from which to spew her legitimately crazy and dangerous ideas to the world. Thank goodness for Seth Meyers’s always whip-smart “A Closer Look” segment, which honed in on the Republican from Northwest Georgia and called out moderate Republicans like Mitt Romney for distancing themselves from Green without taking responsibility for the role their party played in creating such a monster. “Your tent is big enough for conservatives and cooks because it’s a circus tent,” Meyers said. Here’s hoping Marjorie Taylor Greene goes the way of the Ringling Brothers and closes up shop, forever.

2. Kathryn Hahn Lifting Her Husband on Jimmy Kimmel Live

Simply put, what can’t Kathryn Hahn do? She excels in comedy. She excels in drama. But, it turns out, she can’t technically lift her husband off the ground, at least without falling over. We discovered Hahn’s only flaw when she appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live on Tuesday to promote her top-secret, very mysterious role as a nosy neighbor in WandaVision, that show that everyone and their mother’s son is watching that I have inexplicably decided not to get into. I stand with Fran Lebowitz’s BFF Martin Scorsese in his fight against superhero movies, and I’m not afraid to say it. Anyway, beyond gingerly avoiding spoilers, Hahn was an absolute delight and regaled Kimmel with memories of wearing tankinis with Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughey while filming her first feature film How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days in Toronto (Kate “Fabletics” Hudson didn’t know what a tankini was back then, if you can imagine!). Hahn was incredibly down-to-earth in her normal-looking home with her somewhat janky Wi-Fi. The crowning jewel of the segment came when Kimmel kind of randomly asked Hahn if she could pick up her husband, leading Hahn to reveal her husband (very cute!) and the fact that she was wearing jeans under her black dress. Hahn ultimately dropped her husband, and it looked kind of painful, but they laughed it off. As they say, the couple who lifts together laughs together.

1. Alok Vaid-Menon Talks Growing Up Queer and Indian with Lilly Singh

In a kind of surprising turn of events, the top spot this week does not go to a WGA-nominated Comedy/Variety Series but rather a second season of an ultra-late-night show that is having a little bit of a renaissance. For the first time, A Little Late With Lilly Singh has won late night with a fascinating and informative interview with non-binary Indian American media personality, performance artist, and Beyond the Gender Binary author Alok Vaid-Menon. Vaid-Menon, making their fist late-night television appearance, spoke candidly about growing up queer and non-binary as an Indian American in rural Texas, telling stories about how they wore their sister’s clothing and how they navigating that experience with their family. “As a young kid, my family and my community rationalized it as me just loving my sister,” Vaid-Menon said, “but the idea was that I would grow out of it.” Singh, who openly identifies as bisexual, connected with Vaid-Menon on multiple levels, making the conversation that much more revealing, intimate, and engaging. In one particularly salient moment, Vaid-Menon touched upon the influence western colonization had on Indian culture’s attitudes toward queerness. “LGBTQ people have existed in South Asia for hundreds if not thousands of years,” they told Singh, “and this idea of dividing our people into just men and women and that they’re all straight is actually recent and is so deeply related to histories of colonization.” We love to see an incredibly astute insight that you can’t find anywhere else on late-night television. If this is what the second season of the newly revamped A Little Late has to offer, we’ll be tuning in.

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Lilly Singh’s Interview With Alok Vaid-Menon Won Late Night