At the urging of Weekend Update alumnus Amy Poehler, Seth Meyers made a bid for the heart of colourful club correspondent Stefon on Saturday Night Live’s season finale. “That was one of the more special events that I’ve been part of on the show,” Meyers says of Stefon’s sendoff. He doesn’t rule out some cameos by SNL colleagues during his Just for Laughs gala.
Photograph by: Dana Edelson, The Associated Press
MONTREAL - The honeymoon was all a blur, according to one of the grooms.
Saturday Night Live fans will certainly recall that in the season finale two months ago, Weekend Update anchor Seth Meyers, at the urging of guest co-anchor Amy Poehler, followed his heart and chased after city/club correspondent Stefon.
In a scene reminiscent of The Graduate, Meyers crashed the wedding of Stefon and Anderson Cooper and apparently made a quasi-honest man of New York’s most famous clubber. And how quaint it was watching Meyers and Stefon get doused with a shower of confetti from their SNL cronies.
“Until I see the pictures, I won’t know what really happened during that honeymoon,” Meyers quips in a phone interview from New York. “That was one of the more special events that I’ve been part of on the show.”
The – yes — fictional wedding between Meyers and Stefon was the perfect farewell to one of the great TV relationships. Bill Hader, who portrayed Stefon, won’t be back on SNL this fall. And Meyers — who, in addition to his Weekend Update duties, is the show’s head writer — will be leaving SNL next winter to take over Jimmy Fallon’s spot on NBC’s Late Night when the latter takes over Jay Leno’s spot on the Tonight Show.
It’s been a hectic period for Meyers. He also recently (for real) proposed to his longtime girlfriend, Alexi Ashe, a Brooklyn district attorney who has played a key role in battling sex trafficking — and who has made Meyers realize he can’t come home to lament that he had a tougher day at the office.
Yet in the midst of new and old TV assignments, fictional and non-fictional wedding plans, the Just for Laughs festival managed to snag Meyers to host a gala, Wednesday at 10 p.m. at Salle Wilfrid Pelletier of Place des Arts.
At least Meyers won’t be feeling too alienated in Montreal. A gaggle of SNL troupers will be here for the fest: Bobby Moynihan, Taran Killam, John Mulaney, as well as former players like Rich Hall, Colin Quinn, Hannibal Buress and Poehler (who is being honoured by JFL as Comedy Person of the Year).
At this rate, maybe festival brass can even entice Hader — who hosted last year — to bring back Stefon one last time and put together an SNL road show for the Meyers gala.
“I will try to bring a lot of that (SNL) energy to the gala, and I promise to call all of those people to see if they’re available,” Meyers says. “As they can tell you, I’m always calling my friends for favours. Actually, it was Stefon who convinced me that the gala was a very fun show, that I should do it.”
Meyers could have a field day doing a Canadian political parody while he’s here. The idea has already occurred to him.
“SNL is of Canadian birth through (creator) Lorne Michaels. And now that he (is producing) the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon and Late Night with Seth Meyers and SNL, it’s like he’s a Canadian sleeper cell, and this is very slowly how Canada is going to take over the U.S. — very quietly through late-night comedy.”
Meyers is up to speed on the antics of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford. He figures Ford may be trying to cover up alleged crack-smoking “by eating three times as much as possible.” And he got wind of corruption charges filed against Montreal municipal officials.
“I tip my cap to the good people of Canada for providing me with these politicians in advance of my show,” says Meyers, 39, who has never performed at JFL in Montreal, although he did a show in the fest’s Chicago component.
Apart from his stint at SNL — where he has put in 12 years, the last eight as head writer and the last seven as Weekend Update anchor — Meyers long ago established himself as a successful standup. He left audiences in stitches when hosting the 2010 and 2011 ESPY Awards on ESPN and headlining at the 2011 White House Correspondents’ Association dinner.
“It will be more my standup persona than my Weekend Update persona as I introduce guests at the gala,” he says. “I was actually a sketch player until Lorne realized he had to find another job for me — so that I would stop doing sketches.”
Meyers earned an Emmy Award for outstanding music and lyrics for a Justin Timberlake piece, and has been nominated for another six Emmys for his writing work on SNL.
A Northwestern University grad, he got his start — like many an SNL trouper and writer before him — at Chicago’s ImprovOlympic. But it was his highly acclaimed show Pick-ups and Hiccups — in which he toured Europe with Jill Benjamin — that caught the attention of SNL scouts and Michaels.
Meyers will be only the fourth Late Night host since the show’s inception in 1982 with David Letterman. Then came Conan O’Brien and Fallon. He is understandably nervous about taking over the show.
“Any time you go to a new job, a little bit of nerves is a good thing. It’s one of those situations where we’re going to be in this theoretical stage for the next seven or eight months, where we talk about what we want the show to be and how we think it’s going to work. And then we’ll do one episode and learn 1,000 things we didn’t know.
“But this is an exciting time, mostly because we’re doing staffing and it’s so much fun. When you’re putting together a comedy show, you realize there are all these people you’ve always wanted to work with, and now you have your chance.”
There has been some speculation that Meyers’s Late Night might take a stab at fake news, à la the Daily Show with Jon Stewart.
“I think you have to build a show around your strength as a host. And I’m certainly interested in politics. But I also think it would be foolhardy to try to do what Jon Stewart is doing or what Stephen Colbert is doing, because you would never be in a situation where you could do it as well as them. Still, I would hope we would have more politics than maybe what has historically happened on Late Night.”
When he learned he got the Late Night gig, Meyers cracked that he would now have to work for Michaels for five more years to pay him back for the time he totalled his car.
“This might actually be a lifetime appointment with Lorne. When he hires you, it’s like being appointed to the Supreme Court. It’s the last job a person has. But if it is, I will feel like it’s something incredibly right for me. He’s a great boss to work for.”
Regardless, it is a stretch to go from an ensemble situation to hosting one’s own show. Then again, Fallon followed the same flight pattern in going from SNL to Late Night, and it has clearly worked out well for him.
“I certainly owe a huge debt of gratitude to Jimmy. Whereas it might have looked like a stretch before he did it, it’s amazing how natural he made that transition.”
Meyers will be staying on as SNL’s head writer and Weekend Update anchor through the fall. “That’s the plan, but we will be fairly fluid with it, depending on how things are changing with the transition.
“I was not ready for last season’s finale to be my last show. I still want to be there and help with the transition. There’s an incredibly exciting young cast at SNL right now, and it will fun to be around to watch as they get set to become veterans.”
Meyers isn’t fearful that the show might suffer with the departure of so many stalwarts — Poehler, Hader, Fred Armisen, Andy Samberg, Kristen Wiig et al. — over the past few years.
“I think back to 2006-2007, which was my favourite time at the show, when many of those now leaving were starting out. We were nowhere near as good as I think we got. When we look at this young group now six or seven years from now, you’re going to have a conversation with somebody asking if they’re going to survive now that Kate McKinnon and Cecily Strong have gone. What’s really nice about the show is how cyclical it has been.
“I feel that in 10 to 15 years from now, people will look back on this era as having been a really good one for the show. And I was so lucky to be part of the writing staff. I think the writing staff is as good as the cast. I know the quality of my work was certainly elevated by the other writers.”
Meyers hopes to work in a writing capacity on Late Night, but he realizes that will be quite the challenge.
“I don’t want to have any job where I don’t get to be a writer as well,” he says. “It’s a little tricky doing Weekend Update, but ultimately you’re just talking about 15 minutes on camera a week, as opposed to every weeknight for an hour on Late Night.”
Sounds like some heavy lifting is soon to come.
Seth Meyers hosts a Just for Laughs gala Wednesday, July 24 at 10 p.m. at Salle Wilfrid Pelletier of Place des Arts. Tickets start at $29.50. For reservations and more information, visit hahaha.com.
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