Hasan Minhaj And Lilly Singh Hope South Asians Can Be More Open About Mental Health

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Comedian, YouTube star and soon-to-be NBC late night host Lilly Singh, who this fall will become the first South Asian woman to host a late night show, has long been candid about her mental health and the stigma in the South Asian community against talking about it.

“It’s a culture full of secrets. It’s a culture full of ‘What will people think?’” she told fellow comedian Hasan Minhaj, host of Netflix’s “Patriot Act,” in a clip from the show posted Monday. 

“The alternative choice is, if we share this, there’s a potential to help people,” Singh said. “I’m a big believer that when you share stories — and storytelling brings people together — that’s magic, and that’s medicine, and that’s what our culture needs.”

In the clip, Minhaj took Singh on a tour of the “Patriot Act” offices and writers room, in order to help her get ideas about her new show, “A Little Late with Lilly Singh,” premiering Sept. 16.

He praised Singh for talking openly about “sexuality, mental health and dogs” on her popular YouTube channel, “three things that aren’t not discussed in the South Asian community.”

“You are every uncle’s worst nightmare,” he joked.

In September, Singh will become the only woman to host a current late night show on one of the four major broadcast networks. Her show is also making strides in the comedy world because of its gender-equal writing staff — three women and three men — a rarity on late night TV shows, where many writing teams still consist primarily of men.

While she is still working out exactly what she wants the show to look like, Singh told Minhaj that she’ll definitely include “lots of social commentary,” and wants to “switch up the monologue game.”

But she will keep at least one staple of late night TV: the host’s desk.

“I hate sitting pretty. I only want to look good from, like, here,” she said, gesturing toward the upper half of her body.

She also joked that her dog, Scarbro, could become her sidekick on the show.

“I think he’s going to review tech or something,” she joked.

Minhaj advised Singh that the most important part of hosting a show is determining “what it is that you want to say, because everything trickles down from that,” he said.

He later cited some guidance from his former boss Jon Stewart.

Minhaj joked that he had hoped the then-host of “The Daily Show” would be like a “Jewish Yoda.” But it turned out that what he learned most from Stewart wasn’t “specific advice,” but simply how to be himself.

“He would give me no notes — none! He would just be like, ‘That’s great.’ He would basically just ask me questions, like ‘What are you interested in?’ or ‘Why does that bug you?’ But he would never give me specific advice,” Minhaj said of Stewart. “And the note of having no note was the best note. You’re going to be you, Stephen [Colbert] is going to be Stephen, [John] Oliver is going to be Oliver. Everyone is going to do their own version of who they are.”

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