Seth Meyers made his debut last night as the fourth host of NBC’s 12:37am talk show. Late Nigh with Seth Meyers is coming on the heels of last week’s premiere The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. With less than 1000 episodes under his Late Night belt, Fallon made an impact on the late night talk show scene, so much so that he was the number one choice to succeed Tonight Show hall-of- famer Jay Leno. Just in terms of Late Night, Jimmy Fallon’s 969 episodes pales in comparison to the likes of Conan O’Brien’s 2,725 episodes and David Lettermen’s 1,819 episode run; both giants of the late night talk show world. Needless to say, Seth Meyers had big shoes to fill.
I’ve never been a big Seth Meyers fan to begin with. He comes off as stiff in his jokes and isn’t a very funny character actor. Seems like NBC is trying to catch lightening in a bottle twice by hiring another former SNL star. Meyers, in the prime of his career, was the safe choice, as audiences across the country loved him as host of the uber-popular segment Weekend Update. It will be interesting to see if Meyers’ talents as a fake television host can translate to a real one.
His new show opened as most nightly talks shows do, with a monologue. The same stiffness that I mentioned before was present as he told jokes that felt uninspired and dry. The energy in the room wasn’t that same compared to the ultra-energetic Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. Laughs felt forced and didn’t linger as long enough. The awkwardness of demeanor told me that he wasn’t necessarily comfortable in the new role yet, but I can’t fault the guy for that, it being his first episode.
After his many “thank you’s” and personal anecdotes, which sucked what little energy there was out of the grandiose new set, Meyers introduced a new segment called “Venn Diagram.” This segment compared two unlike things to find amusing similarities between them. Like the set, this segment was filled with dead air and sort lived laughs. It was a good idea in theory, just executed poorly.
The very first guest on Late Night with Seth Meyers was former SNL cast member Amy Poehler, a familiar face to Meyers. No doubt chosen because of the chemistry the two have. The interview began with inside jokes between the two and band leader Fred Armisen (another SNL alum) which left the audience in a sort of uncertain guffaw. It soon got back on track as they talked about various projects Poehler is currently working on. The interview worked, but as the first one of Meyers’ new show, it didn’t compare to last week’s first guest Will Smith and was no where near the stardom of Late Night with Jimmy Fallon’s first guest Robert Di Niro. Still, this is an 12:37am show we’re talking about, so we can expect most of the star power to be saved for The Tonight Show.
The prestige of Meyer’s next guest was amped up a lot with Vice President Joe Biden taking center stage. This choice I really liked, not because I necessarily like the guy all that much, but because in popular culture these days, he’s known as a bit of a goof. I was surprised that throughout the whole interview he didn’t do anything embarrassing or meme worthy. He was actually a pretty funny guy, pointing most jokes at himself, specifically about the weird State of the Union smile-face he gave and for his condemnation of LaGuardia Airport. Nothing political was talked about until the end when he coyly said he wanted to make a big announcement, presumably about his supposed 2016 run for president, but then backed off it saying he didn’t want to make Seth’s first show about himself. A very funny end to the interview, which I probably didn’t convey well by just writing about it.
Great Big World performed, but I didn’t watch that because everyone turns the show off at that point anyway.
In all, it was a good first show for him. He reminded me of a young Conan O’Brien, awkward in his approach, but in a laughing-with-him soft of way. It remains to be seen if audiences will embrace Meyers in his new role. Fallon was a risk for NBC. No one could have predicted that in a few short years his popularity would grow enough into host of The Tonight Show. Seth Meyers is starting out as a household name already, so he was off to a good start without even stepping on stage. However, seeing him every week night instead of once a weekend could make some weary of his unwelcoming presence.