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Lilly Singh apologizes for ‘problematic joke’ she made on her new late-night talk show

2019-09-28

Lilly Singh may be a late-night newbie, but she’s already dealing with controversy — and handling it like a pro.

Singh took to Twitter Friday to make “a very important and heartfelt apology" for a joke she told on the series premiere of her NBC talk show, “A Little Late with Lilly Singh.”

A very important and heartfelt apology. I’m sorry. And thank you for helping me grow ?????? pic.twitter.com/Q2JBI2VEDj

The YouTuber-turned-late-night-host, who also turned 31 Thursday, walked back a joke she now finds “disrespectful and problematic.”

On the episode, Singh wrote that she “stupidly made a comparison about turbans that I’d like to apologize for.

"My guest was explaining how her kids were embarrassed I saw them with towels twisted on their heads and I said ‘don’t worry, it’s like my Punjabi friends,’” she explained. “In the moment, my thought process was ‘don’t be embarrassed! I think that’s dope.’ But in hindsight I recognize that was a disrespectful and problematic joke to make that has a lot of painful history behind it. And I’m very sorry.”

Singh continued to say she “was very nervous” the night of the incident, as it was the premiere episode, and her improv “wasn’t well thought out.”

“I want to make it clear that I’m incredibly grateful to the people who took the time to bring this to my attention and educate me on the matter,” Singh said. “I appreciate that you approached me with love and patience. I don’t wear a turban and haven’t lived with that experience and so I really value people giving perspective.”

Following the “teachable moment” — rather than “another opportunity to divide and attack” — Singh assured fans the “stupid joke” was scrapped from the episode and clips online.

“This is all new to me,” Singh said. “I’m still learning and growing. I know the line for comedy is subjective so I can only do what I feel is right. And in this case, taking full ownership and apologizing feels right. No ands, ifs, or buts. It was wrong. I hope you continue to make space for me to make mistakes, and improve from them.”

When Singh, a Toronto native, took over Carson Daly’s 1:35 a.m. “Last Call” slot, she became the first bisexual person to host a show on late-night TV. At the moment, she is the only woman in such a role on a Big Four network.