Inside Seth Meyers' 'Late Night' Debut (Video)
Meyers kicked off night one with his own "Thank You Notes" segment, a series of topical jokes and his "best friend" Amy Poehler.
After eight months of preparation and a splashy promotional push, Seth Meyers stepped into the limelight as host of Late Night on Monday.
The former Saturday Night Live head writer and “Weekend Update” co-anchor opened his first show with a segment familiar to his predecessor Jimmy Fallon’s Late Night viewers, “Thank You Notes.” Seated at his new desk, Meyers began jotting down a thank you note to Fallon: “I promise to treat [the show] with respect and dignity, and only use it to do completely original comedy pieces,” he began, pausing before adding: "Starting now."
From there, the newly installed host, dressed in a crisp gray suit and blue tie, moved on to the monologue, joking that he planned “to shake stuff up" by opening the show that way. (Meyers has said on multiple occasions that he has no plans to reinvent the late night format.) The line met with laughs from his 183-member audience, with Meyers transitioning into a procession of 14 jokes, including jabs about the Sochi Olympics, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford and The Bachelor’s Juan Pablo. Much like his “Update” segments, the vast majority of the jokes were topical, with Meyers periodically pausing to comment on his performance, including a nod to his first “bomb.”
Meyers, who wore a mix of excitement and nerves on his face, thanked his parents (not there), his brother (there) and his new wife, Alexi, to whom he apologized for all of the time he’s had to devote to the show in recent months. He also introduced his newly formed 8G band and its bandleader, Fred Armisen, who had created the show’s theme song. Despite Armisen's recent comments about being focused solely on the music at the show’s outset, the Portlandia actor and his former SNL colleague spent a few minutes joking about such things as Armisen’s many TV projects, including a made-up Recent History series for the History channel. (First guest Amy Poehler played off Armisen, too, poking fun at their past as "very turbulent lovers." Never explicitly mentioned: a toy replica of Meyers' SNL "husband" Stefon situated on his desk.)
Though Meyers didn’t rely on his stable of improv-trained writers as he intends to do, he did use night one to introduce a new segment, which he's calling “Venn Diagram.” Among the 11 examples he served up: “Sports Illustrated swimsuit models” in a circle on the left side of the screen, the movie “Gravity” on the right side and “things George Clooney has been in” overlapping in the middle. The overlap of “snow” and “toilet paper?" “Things you won't find in Sochi.” (Meyers, whose show was considerably quieter than Fallon's launch a week earlier, returned to Sochi as a comedy target later in the program, taking a jab at anchor Bob Costas’ conjunctivitis and his network's hefty budget at the Winter Games.)
The latter half of the show was devoted to interviews, the only piece of the gig that’s new to Meyers. Opening with Poehler, his "best friend," put him at ease, with the two joking about their early days on SNL as well as her big night at the Golden Globes, where she, too, took a jab at Clooney. Poehler joked that she was looking to put an end to the prank war that's broken out between her and the actor, explaining: "I want to say something to George Clooney that no woman has ever said, 'George, please stop.' " She ended her interview with a bit of news: Her Comedy Central comedy, Broad City, had been renewed for a second season.
Meyers kept up that convivial tone with second guest Vice President Joe Biden, choosing to use the Late Night platform to joke about his State of the Union facial expressions and finger guns and recent comments about LaGuardia being a "third world airport," than grill him on more serious political topics. To his credit, Meyers finished the interview with a question about Biden's 2016 plans, with the vp drawing big laughs for his response: "I was planning on making a major announcement tonight, but then I decided tonight was your night."
The Late Night host closed out his first show with a musical performance by A Great Big World and a fittingly self-deprecating parting line: "If everyone could stick around, I'd like to do five hours of notes."