Seth Meyers Says It’s ‘Deeply Embarrassing’ How Excited He Was for ‘Late Night’ Emmy Nomination

TheWrap magazine: The “Late Night” host discusses his show getting its first-ever nomination for Variety-Talk Series

Seth Meyers
Lloyd Bishop – NBC

This story about Seth Meyers first appeared in the Down to the Wire: Comedy issue of TheWrap’s awards magazine.

Seth Meyers was not prepared for “Late Night” to finally break into the Emmys’ variety-talk category this year. In fact, he was bracing for disappointment. Again. “Because I’m — I think the word my wife used was psycho — I turned my phone off and went for a long run,” Meyers said when asked what he was doing when the nominations were announced.

“Despite my best efforts, I am always a little disappointed. If I thought we’d get nominated I would have stayed with my family, but I just assumed the other would be true and I would have preferred to just be able to run through the disappointment before I saw everybody.”

Instead, “Late Night with Seth Meyers” scored its first Primetime Emmy nomination for Outstanding Variety Talk Series since launching in 2014, and Meyers said he immediately realized how much he actually cared about getting nominated. “It’s funny how you realize all the ways you’ve justified it to yourself over the past seven years were just lies,” he acknowledged with a laugh. “It is deeply embarrassing how excited it made me, but you just can’t argue it’s not a nice thing.”

It’s not as if “Late Night” suddenly just got good in this past year, but Meyers has acknowledged previously that the pandemic shows — which took on a more stripped, lo-fi attitude that has carried over in spirit since returning to the studio in October — helped them find the purest version of the show.

“The nice thing about how we found ourselves to the current iteration of the show is that it did happen organically,” Meyers said, noting that the popular “A Closer Look” segment hasn’t massively changed since it became a YouTube hit when it first launched. “Maybe the style of the writing has grown a little bit over the last three years, but we’re always just trying new things.”

While many were hesitant to see if “Late Night” would change significantly when the audience came back, given the free-wheeling nature of the pandemic shows, Meyers said he was genuinely emotional last October when taping their first show in front of an audience again. “We really doubled down on the idea that what we had written during the pandemic was our favorite kind of writing, and it wasn’t a massive departure from the writing we were doing leading up to March 2020,” he said.

“It had evolved in a way, and if there were any conversations we were having, it was to not backslide or not blink if what we were trying to do changed with an audience. We felt very strongly that the important thing to do was push through and find [the] place that we’re at now where the studio audience is getting exactly what they expect, insofar as the tone that we’re doing.”

The return of an audience coincided with the return of in-studio guests, and Meyers has always had a knack for the interview segment of “Late Night,” something other hosts in late night TV have maybe approached with a flippancy or sense of obligation. But for Meyers, the interview segment is an opportunity to have an honest-to-goodness conversation, as with his emotional and candid discussion with friend John Mulaney.

“You just don’t develop it any other way than by doing it, so the longer you get to be a host, the better you get at talking to people and just realize the best stuff comes from being in the moment and being a good listener,” Meyers said. “I think audiences have a real ear for authenticity.”  

With an Emmy nomination at last, Meyers said he can now say with some authority what means the most to him. “I’m proud of the fact that I work with people I really love working with, and I hope they feel the same way,” he said. “I think they do. It’s a really nice place to work. We put out a product we’re proud of. It’s more fun every day. I mean, those are all the things that you realize are a lot more important.” He chuckled. “But you can believe me (that) it’s more important because I have been nominated now.”

Read more from the Down to the Wire: Comedy issue here.

Photo by Steve Schofield for TheWrap