Seth Meyers spent a decade at “Saturday Night Live,” eventually becoming that show’s head writer and the anchor of its satirical news segment “Weekend Update.” He left the show in February 2014 to take the helm at “Late Night” on NBC, a spot made famous by David Letterman.
He’s also Executive Producer of the comedy series “Documentary Now” – a satirical send-up of classic docs, starring his former colleagues Fred Armisen and Bill Hader. He also co-created the animated series “The Awesomes.”
So, as the TV schedule continues to get packed with late night entertainment options, what does he think his show’s role is?
“It’s hard to speak about what the role of the late-night host is,” Seth told Brendan. “I think the fact that there are more of us now than there were in the past speaks to the fact that it’s still a medium that people enjoy. You don’t end up with more of something if it is a dead art.”
On his favorite part of “Late Night”
Seth Meyers: My favorite part of our show is that we do it every day. That luxury of volume has been the greatest gift to doing the show, just because you learn so much faster thanI did at my previous job, which was 20 times a year, once a week.
You know, one of the nice things is realizing it’s all a bit temporary when you do this show. It’s a little bit disposable if a joke doesn’t work, if you kind of have a bumpy monologue, you’re going to have so many more monologues.
I learned about six months in that I have no memory of anything that had gone wrong. Which then made me realize when something goes wrong, there’s no real reason to obsess over it, because I’ve learned from my own experience that I won’t even remember it.
On having “beef” with Donald Trump
Brendan Francis Newnam: You are the only person on television I think that is being actively attacked by one of the candidates, right?
Seth Meyers: Yeah. I think Donald Trump has said… I feel like he maybe slammed John Oliver a little too.
Brendan Francis Newnam: But he tweeted you in particular because you at the White House correspondence responded to you a couple years ago really raked him over the coals.
Seth Meyers: We have history. We have beef.
Brendan Francis Newnam: You are married. You have a child. And [Donald Trump] might become the leader of our country. I mean, are any extra measures going to be taken at the Meyer’s household?
Seth Meyers: I guess Russian hackers should be what we’re worried about.
Brendan Francis Newnam: Has your iPhone been acting weird?
Seth Meyers: I mean, he good news is when you are living the life you have now, pretty much the only photos you can hack off my phone are of my newborn. So, if you’re into that sort of thing, hack away.
On staying in New York instead of heading out to Los Angeles post-“Saturday Night Live”
Seth Meyers: One of the benefits of “SNL” is you work with the people that you see them, you see someone like Kristen Wiig or Bill Hader and you say, “Oh! They’re going it be in movies. And I’m not going to be.”
And that’s OK, because they’re just better at that thing. Whereas, I do think they probably would have said this about me. “Oh, if there’s any destination for him, it should be a show like this.”
But personality-wise, yeah, I like New York a lot more. I have a very East Coast mentality. I don’t have time for meetings. I think L.A. is a lot of meetings. I mean, look, every now and then I find time for an NPR podcast [laughs]. But we don’t have generals, we never are sort of white boarding or blue sky-ing. We’re just grinding it out.
Brendan Francis Newnam: I also heard you say, you were talking about how much you like he indoors. You’re an indoorsman, as opposed to an outdoorsman.
Seth Meyers: I think, we’re in my office right now, this is a perfect indoors office, and it’s a nice view, I can see when how soon the ice skating rink will be there and I’ll be able to watch people enjoy the outdoors.
Brendan Francis Newnam: From the safety of a laptop.
Seth Meyers: From up high. I like to enjoy watching outdoors people from up high.
On the question he’s tired of being asked
Seth Meyers: It’s less now, but I think everyone who works at “SNL” tires of, “How does the week work?”
Brendan Francis Newnam: The mechanics of “SNL.”
Seth Meyers: The mechanics of “SNL.” I don’t blame anybody for asking, but I feel as though that, of the answers in my life that I’ve given, that’s the one I’ve given the most.
And now there’s that problem when you get asked an interesting question a bunch of times, which is you then start abbreviating the answer because you’re worried they’re bored. But now I feel like I’ve taken all the light out of the answer.
I just read this fantastic interview with Paul McCartney. It made me realize, “Oh, of course, he has it worse than anybody.” He’s saying, “I wish at this point I had a second story about how I met John Lennon, but I don’t.”
So, it seems as though I can’t believe how many times I’ve told his boring story, but it’s the only story I have.
On the one thing we don’t know about him
Seth Meyers: I thought and wanted to be a much better athlete than I was. And even though at every level until high school, the results would have told you I should not be playing baseball I tried out for my high school baseball team.
And I remember everyone got up to the plate and got 20 pitches to do what you could with, and I only made contact with one of the 20, which I fouled into the parking lot and broke the windshield of my dad’s car, which I had driven there.
Brendan Francis Newnam: Well, thank goodness that you did make the baseball team.
Seth Meyers: It all worked out. Well, I’m holding out hope.