The former “Saturday Night Live” head writer and Weekend Update anchor talks to TheWrap about the benefit of being famous for playing yourself
Seth Meyers will try his hand at late night, or more accurately, “Late Night,” when he takes over Jimmy Fallon's old NBC stomping grounds on Monday night.
And when he does, The “SNL: Weekend Update” anchor-turned “Late Night” host hopes to replicate the success of predecessor Fallon. And who would doubt Meyers’ ability to repeat what Fallon forged, given the advantages that come from their shared background?
“I think ‘Weekend Update’ is the one place, more than any other place on the show, where people learn your name, and they learn who you are,” Meyers told TheWrap during a recent interview. ”Unlike Jimmy [Fallon], I'm far more limited in my range on ['SNL'], but I've only been Seth Meyers for the last seven years on the show. So that makes it a nice transition into a job where you only have to be Seth Meyers again.”
Not only is Seth comfortable playing Seth, America is comfortable with Seth playing interviewer.
“People get used to you interviewing somebody,” Meyers added. “They watch ‘Weekend Update,’ they see you next to someone — whether or not it's a fictional Arianna Huffington or a hyper-fictional Stefan — they like the idea of you asking questions.”
Plus, there may be no better TV training ground than the offices, writers rooms, halls and stages surrounding 30 Rock's famed Studio 8H.
“What you learn at ‘SNL’ … nothing else compares to the skill set you develop,” Meyers said. “Just by the amount of work you have to do, you also learn a lot about your own skillset. I think everybody leaves ‘SNL’ having a pretty good sense of what the thing they should be doing is.”
Of course, it's not just Meyers responsible for churning out five shows a week. In his corner, Meyers brings talented former “Weekend Update” head writer Alex Baze to “Late Night”, and retains producer Michael Shoemaker, another “Saturday Night Live” alum and stowaway from Fallon's version of the talker.
During TheWrap's pow-wow, Shoemaker expanded on why Meyers will make such a natural transition from ‘SNL's’ Update.
“It … really exhibits a generosity that translates to the talk show so well,” Shoemaker said. “It's a guy who has to welcome somebody and just let them score. [Viewers] say, ‘Oh I would watch a show where that guy is laughing at someone famous.'”
Shoemaker, who has been with Meyers at “Saturday Night Live” in some capacity from 1990 to 2009 when he moved over with Fallon, agrees “SNL's” comedy boot camp atmosphere breeds stars.
“Everyone taps out to the top of their powers,” Shoemaker said. ”You have no choice. People who would never write, have to write … you kind of have to direct — Seth could run a studio.”
Of course, there will be adjustments from desk-to-desk between two jobs that have at least as many differences as they do similarities:
“For me, the craziest thing is just having to be on camera more,” Meyers explained. At ‘SNL', Meyers didn't even shave until Saturday night at 7 p.m., he quipped, let alone hit up dress and makeup every afternoon.
Dealing with the infamously-crazy schedule of Lorne Michaels’ executive-produced “SNL” only helps talent transition to that of another, the Michaels-produced “Late Night”. On the differences between the two shows, Shoemaker offered: ”['Late Night' is] fast, but then it is over. In some ways it's more livable, but its not less busy by any means.”
“The most important thing is that we're going to figure it out as we go,” Meyers concluded. “Not from a lack of trying to figure it out before we start, but we're very aware that it’s a job you learn by doing.”
“Late Night With Seth Meyers” premieres on Monday night, following “The Tonight Show”, at 12:35 a.m. PST.
Meyers’ first guests will be Amy Poehler, Vice President Joe Biden and musical guest A Great Big World.
The “Today” show on Monday aired their own interview with Meyers, the first in his new studio. Savannah Guthrie sat down with the new “Late Night” host to chat about his comedy style, and got a special preview of the show.