by Shaylyn MacKinnon
Drewids had the opportunity to see Late Night host Seth Meyers perform stand up comedy on Feb. 4, at the Mayo Performing Arts Center. Within hours of going on sale at only $3 for Drew students, the tickets were sold out three weeks prior to Meyers’ visit. Seth Meyers, an Emmy Award-winning comedy writer, is best known for his work on “Saturday Night Live” and his current position as the host of “Late Night with Seth Meyers”.
President Baenninger opened the event by first thanking the Blanch and Irving Laurie Foundation for sponsoring the event, and continued by listing some of the past guest speakers Drew has hosted over the years on the very same stage. These past speakers have had “a wide array of political, social and economic perspectives” in order to represent the vastly different views of the audiences in thought-provoking and entertaining forums. To highlight the diversity of the speakers, President Baenninger emphasized on the fact that both Bill O’Reilly and John Oliver had stood in the same place in the past two years. Meyers also used this fact to elicit his first of many rounds of laughter, joking, “Two years ago John Oliver, last year Bill O’Reilly. You guys do not have a type.”
Meyers’ performance relied heavily on politics early on, with shots taken at President Trump as Meyers claimed, thanks to his presidency, “Business is booming!” Meyers actually apologized to the audience, taking partial blame for Trump’s candidacy due to claims that his mocking of the now-president during the 2011 White House Correspondents’ Dinner actually spurred Trump to run to spite Meyers. This did nothing to stop Meyers from continuing to use President Trump as the butt of a few more jokes, like his lack of understanding that “we are shitty people to govern,” or the fact that Trump “prays the way kids make prank calls”, referring to Trump’s prayer for the ratings Arnold Schwarzenegger’s new “Celebrity Apprentice”.
The show did veer off from politics around the 20-minute mark when he changed course to sports, which segued into video games to pedophiles to the day his wife gave birth and so on. Meyers had no trouble transitioning between these vastly different topics.
While those who are familiar with Meyers’ work are used to seeing him behind a desk delivering the news with his trademark satire, the audience did not seem to mind that he used the front of the stage to his full advantage with only a mic stand to occasionally lean on.
Meyers ended his performance going full swing back to the 2011 Correspondents’ Dinner and a final, “You’re welcome America!”
After the show, Meyers sat down with The Acorn for a one-on-one interview.
With so much of his material relying on politics, and with such a whirlwind of news happening everyday since Trump’s election, Meyers revealed how he manages to stay on top of the onslaught of information. “We have a combination of writers that I feel like are drawn to watching that stuff anyway, and then we have researchers who are really integral to what we pull off every night on our show,” Meyers explained. “They have the vocabulary to really pull up clips quickly. Obviously we are leaning very heavily on actual reporters. We use their work and their clips to build our pieces.”
When asked what he would suggest to college students interested in keeping up with politics as he does, Meyers emphasized the importance of finding news sources one likes to read rather than relying solely on cable news. “I think that if you can retain what you read, it’s a lot more helpful than seeing people,” Meyers said, adding, “And again, I think there are a lot of people that do cable news very well, but you can get caught sort of watching people sort of yell and sort of talk in very short snippets, and it’s nice to have that sort of base coat of information you can read on your own.”
Meyers was recently in the news himself after hosting Counselor to President Trump, Kellyanne Conway on Jan. 10. Meyers commented on this, saying that Conway was “a little more interesting in that it’s fun to [have] a respectful conversation with someone you disagree with.” Meyers commended Conway for appearing on his show, saying, “She was an incredibly good sport to make the time to come and be on the show. Obviously she knows where I stand and obviously I know where she stands. I think conversations like that are helpful in moving forward.”
Moving forward was an important point for Meyers throughout the interview. A self-proclaimed optimist, Meyers described his political comedic style as, “Hey, let’s try to get through negative things by being upbeat about them.” He called laughter a “great release” for the anger many may feel at the world and said, “We try to use that as the sort of baseline of the show.” Meyers added that his team tries to find a balance between the positive and the negative, though the balance is “tricky” at times. For example, Meyers said, “We’ve tried not to be critical of people, we want to remain critical towards the elected official as opposed to the population at large. You know, they’re the people who have made promises, and so now I feel like it’s our job to at least keep track of whether or not they’re keeping those promises.” Meyers commented that Trump has “made a lot of promises.”
When asked ‘why politics?’ as the main focus of his show despite his constant assortment of celebrity guests, Meyers thanked Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert for making political comedy so mainstream. “All of a sudden there was this world where you could talk about the things that were important to you. Where you could have a point of view; you didn’t have to hide where your opinion lay.” Meyers admitted, “Look, I love sports and movies and music, but ultimately the outcomes of those things don’t have many real world consequences for people, so even though we talk about it at length with guests from those fields, [for] the main part of the show we try to talk about the things that we’re talking about behind the stage as well.” And for Meyers and his team, that’s politics.