Seth Meyers on Stefon, Cosby Jokes, and Talking With His Hands: "Try to Keep It Under Wraps"
Courtesy of NBC Universal
When Seth Meyers was tapped to take over Late Night, it wasn't that surprising.
Already a year into the gig, and Meyers has been able to set himself apart from his predecessors Jimmy Fallon, Conan O'Brien, and David Letterman, by injecting his own brand of witty humor into Late Night. He owes a lot of his success to his time on Saturday Night Live, where in addition to anchoring Weekend Update, he was head writer during a period that saw the late-night sketch show produce several comedy superstars like Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Bill Hader, Kristen Wiig, Jason Sudeikis, Fred Armisen, and more.
New Times spoke to Meyers, who is performing at the Fillmore Miami Beach tonight, January 23, about his transition into Late Night, his relationship with Stefon, and Bill Cosby jokes.
New Times: How is Stefon doing?
Seth Meyers: We haven't spoken recently. I saw Bill Hader and he asked me the same question. But, you know, Stefon has been very angry with me ever since I also married a human woman. So it's made things a little weird between us, but that's the way he is. He's always a little mad about something.
I thought he announced you were expecting?
With Stefon, it's possible it's a hysterical pregnancy.
It's almost a year since you've moved to Late Night. How has it been so far?
It's been great. I really enjoy it even more than I thought when I first started. I really enjoy talking to people. I like the fact that you get to do it everyday. You learn so much, so fast because of the schedule we have. And you can constantly evolve in Late Night, which is what the goal is and what we continue to do.
Does feel like it's Weekend Update on steroids?
No, it felt less like Weekend Update in a way that I didn't' even expect. You just realize the difference between standing versus sitting with jokes and doing a monologue. The biggest is difference is on Weekend Update you didn't spend a lot of time commenting on how things are going, and with Late Night you can -- how a joke went, how an interview is going. I feel like at SNL I was just one of many people who got to be Weekend Update anchor and you just try to take care of it the best you can when you're there. While here, I feel like it's mine and I can fuck around a little more, which I've enjoyed.
Has anything surprised you about yourself since you've taken over Late Night?
I've learned a lot of how much I talk with my hands. [Laughs] I think I knew, but it's like they are moving all the time. It's like I'm trying to land a plane, but I'm trying to keep that under wraps.
Did you feel like Weekend Update prepared you for your current role?
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I think SNL prepares you for almost anything. Because when you work at SNL, whether you are cast or writer, you are in charge of writing your own stuff, you are in charge of producing it if they pick it, you are in charge of casting it, you are in charge of every element of production. I think that helps you if you want to direct films, if you want to write for television, or host a late-night show. I don't think anyone would have considered me if I hadn't tenured at SNL.
Before you took over Late Night, it was hosted by Jimmy Fallon and before that, most famously, by Conan O'Brien. Did you feel the pressure to make it your own?
I don't think it's a pressure to make it your own. But when you look back at the two guys you mentioned and also [David Letterman], you sort of see that most of their success came when they played the show to their strengths. So it's sort of trying to recognize the things we feel I do well and build the show around that. The mistake would have been to try to make it like Jimmy's, Conan's, or Dave's.
Who's been your favorite interview so far?
Every now and then you have people on that I know, like Andy Samberg or Kate McKinnon, that are just delightful because you have shared history with them. And then sometimes you have people like Mickey Rourke or Kanye West, who are sort of unpredictable and that's sort of fun too -- to not know what's going to come next. But I've realized the more you do this that there's so many different ways to interview guests, there's so many different kinds of guests that it's fun to embrace the way people are unique over the course of those interviews.
You hosted the Emmys last year. Did Tina Fey and Amy Poehler give you any advice?
People always ask about advice and stuff, but the best thing you can do is watch the way people host. You learn more from that than by asking them. Because I know those guys I sort of helped them out writing on the [Golden Globes] the last three years. Being backstage at the Globes is sort of the best education I could possibly have for going into one of those things.
Speaking of the Globes, Tina and Amy's Bill Cosby joke was probably one of the most talked about moments. Are you surprised they went there?
No. I've known them for a really long time. There are very few things either them are afraid of, so I wasn't surprised at all. I was delighted. [Laughs]
Does Late Night still give you time in your schedule to do stand-up?
Less. I try to get out one or two weekends a month. I think it's important to get up on your feet and perform stand-up. It definitely helps you grow as a performer. And especially now that I'm doing the same job every night, I think it would be a mistake to stick to doing just that one thing. I've always liked doing as many things as possible, so it's great to stay out on the road.
Your brother, Josh Meyers, is also in the industry. Is it nice having someone close to you that understands your line of work?
Absolutely. My brother is my best friend, and that fact that we can talk about this business -- both the good parts and bad parts -- has always been a luxury for us. We've also worked together on stuff.
How was it for your parents raising both of you at home?
My parents are kind of performers as well. I like to say it was a four-man show. [Laughs] All four of us were playing our parts.
Citi Presents: An Evening With Seth Meyers. Friday, January 23, at the Fillmore Miami Beach, 1700 Washington Ave., Miami Beach. Doors at 8 p.m. Tickets $38.50-$53.50 and are available to Citi card members only. 305-673-7300; fillmoremb.com.
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