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Seth Meyers is changing the monologue format on NBC’s Late Night.
On Monday’s show, the Saturday Night Live alum walked straight to his desk when he took the stage and then told all of his topical monologue jokes from behind his desk. The move to a format that more closely resembles “Weekend Update,” which Meyers hosted for years on SNL, might have seemed like an homage to fellow “Weekend Update” alum guest Colin Quinn or a onetime thing. Fans were left to speculate about the change, since it wasn’t explained on Monday night’s show. Late Night head writer Alex Baze tweeted Tuesday morning that the show was “trying a new thing.”
But Meyers told The New York Times that the desk-based approach to presenting topical jokes — also used by The Daily Show and similar programs like The Nightly Show, the now-defunct Colbert Report and John Oliver‘s Last Week Tonight — is something he’s trying out and has been considering since he started his Late Night run 18 months ago.
“I’ve always, obviously, been comfortable behind a desk,” Meyers told The Times, explaining that August seemed like the right time to do something different.
“I’ve embraced the challenge of trying the more conventional late-night monologue,” he added. “I felt like I’d had success telling jokes standing as well, be it at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, the ESPYs or even doing stand-up. But I’m also aware that an hour before my show starts, Jimmy [Fallon]’s doing a classic monologue, and he’s doing it very well.”
Indeed, in addition to Fallon, most of Meyers’ late-night contemporaries (Jimmy Kimmel, Conan O’Brien, James Corden and Bill Maher) perform stand-up monologues, keeping with the approach favored by past hosts like Johnny Carson, Jay Leno and David Letterman.
Meyers told The Times that he originally was going to try his new approach for two weeks and then decide how to proceed, but added he’s likely to stick with it.
Said Meyers: “So far, a night into it, it’s a resounding success.”
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