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“Ten minutes goes really fast,” Seth Meyers said about the interview segments on his nightly talk show, “Late Night with Seth Meyers,” which made the fact that he spent a full hour-plus with the audience at the Paley Center for Media on Monday night feel extra special.
Meyers and the night’s #PaleyLive moderator, fellow writer/comedian John Mulaney, chatted about Meyers’ progression from Saturday Night Live head writer to SNL Weekend Update anchor to host of his own late-night talk show in 2014. There were lots of laughs, a little dirt on his favorite guests, and more than a few reminders about what it takes to get to the tippety top of your game.
Find your own groove.
When you’re Seth Meyers, and it’s your job to produce 60 minutes of late night television each weekday, you know the ins and outs of what makes a talk show tick. Every minute counts. Meyers talked about the typical “walk out, do a monologue while standing, then sit at the desk” format that traditional talk shows follow. His show started doing that, he said, when the show first began, but changed it to better suit Meyers’ personality (standing is awkward to him) and flow better from the show’s lead-in, The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon.
An audience member asked if there are plans to do other things that defy convention, like shooting more outside of the studio. Not really, Meyers seemed to say, noting that the man-on-the-street schtick was more of Conan O’Brien’s territory and sticking to his home turf was just better for him, all around (going outside is awkward to him, too).
Find your tribe.
Good news, bad test takers: Seth Meyers was not the world’s best student. Or… he wasn’t the world’s best student inside a traditional classroom. Meyers said no conventional class could have taught him the best of what he’s learned over his career. Meyers and Mulaney (sounds like a law firm, huh?) both said the best things they learned were “on the fly,” there in the SNL writers’ room.
Meyers said his other great teachers were the improv groups he participated with, starting in college. Finding, working with and eventually being respected by that kind of “community of people” is what helped give him the know-how and the confidence to kickstart his career.
Awkward moments happen.
Meyers and team had less than a month to prep for the national debut of his show back in 2014, but it didn’t matter. More time to prep would’ve only meant more things they had to toss out. They started learning what worked best when they actually started doing it, for real, each night.
Oh, and apparently Bill Clinton likes to talk… a lot. “You’ll ask him how he’s doing, and he’ll just go on and on,” Meyers said, after (graciously) noting earlier that it might have been his own nerves that made the interview difficult to pull off. And if something awkward-awesome happens, make the most out of it. When asked if he would ever devote two interview segments or a whole show to one guest, he quickly responded: “Kanye.”
Even as head writer at SNL, Meyers still didn’t have the ultimate say in choosing which writers were hired for the show. (Head honcho Lorne Michaels did, a card he seemed to pull… not infrequently.) Meyers said that’s the best thing about finally getting his own show: the ability to build his own team.
Keep these reminders in mind as you’re on your grind this week. How you can be even more like yourself? Is there a group you can join that will inspire and educate you? As you’re on your journey, let us follow your progress! Hit us up: @ManhattanDigest on all your favorite social media accounts. We may even feature you in an upcoming article. GRIND ON!
FYI: The Paley Center for Media can be a great resource for intimate panel discussions featuring all sorts of entertainers and professionals within the media industry. Hulu, the official media sponsor of the event, will exclusively stream this event. The content will be up for subscribers in the next couple of days, so stay tuned! Check out more about them, and their events list, here: PaleyCenter.org.
For past #PaleyLive clips, click here [http://www.hulu.com/search?q=
Check out Seth Meyers in action weekdays at 12:35AM on NBC and here: http://www.nbc.com/late-night-