It’s been about six months since Seth Meyers took over Late Night on NBC. How’s he doing? Let’s take a look!
Seth walks out from Late Night’s blue curtain in a matching blue suit with blue tie with white pin dots. Seth digs blue. He launches into his monologue by announcing Congress is taking a five week recess for the month of August… ‘I hope they can get used to doing nothing. [as a Senator] My kids wanna go to the waterpark, but i’m gonna try to block it.’ Thus begins a steady stream of set ups, and punchlines, the bread and butter of any late night host. We get a Ruth Bader Ginsberg/NY Knicks joke, a Sharknado 2 joke, a Kim Kadashian Hollywood video game joke, a pig joke that ruminates on bacon for a quick minute, a joke about a sex toy called the ‘guybrator,’ an itsy-bitsy spider reference, a joke about HBO and one about a guy who dropped a USB drive from his butt while being arrested. We finish with not one, but four jokes about National Orgasm Day, ending with this groaner: Today is National Orgasm Day, I’m actually having a party to celebrate but I don’t think any one’s gonna come.
Most of these are greeted with polite applause, some chuckles. But c’mon! A week old Kim Kardashian joke and a bunch of easy punchlines to weird little news items from around the world. And then four National Orgasm Day Jokes. Because apparently quantity matters to Seth more than quality. Not a promising start, but the monologue is typically lukewarm and not Seth’s area of expertise. At least he looks more comfortable now than he did when he first started. Grade: D
When did Late Night change the desk and chairs? It’s notably less mid-century Danish… Anyway, as he has done since since the first show, Seth approaches his desk by running from the back of the stage and jumping onto home base and bowing with his arms outstretched. Then a bit of housekeeping. Seth announces Allison Williams, daughter of NBC News Anchor Brian Williams, has been cast as Peter Pan in the NBC musical, along with Christopher Walken as Captain Hook. So, yay! Nepotism wins again! We then get to hear Seth’s plans for the weekend, which include hanging out with his parents and his in-laws as well. We’re then treated to a charming story of the first time they brought their families together at the beach, everyone thought he was going to propose. This bit of self-digression is where Seth has chosen to differentiate himself from other talk shows, and its charming and personal and a wonder how he hasn’t run out of cute, funny stories to tell about him and his wife. Grade: B
Since Fred Armisen is away filming Portlandia, they fedex him a few props and he makes a character out of them. This go-round, Fred gets a leopard print hat, cat-eye glasses, and dangly earrings. Which he turns into an every mom character for the duration of the bit. It’s an improvement over the nightly banter Seth and Fred have when he’s in studio, but doesn’t come across very well, because its recorded and the character (“your mother”) he comes up with isn’t very funny to begin with, except if your mom wears leopard print hats and cat-eye glasses and complains about having to care for your cats. then, it’s hysterical. Keep in mind, this bit was promoted in the OPENING CREDITS! Grade: D
Commercial break, which includes a Patrone spot. I take the note and pour myself a shot.
This Week In Numbers. A workhorse bit that can be written in advance and trotted out when there’s nothing better at bat. We get a handful of numbers based jokes, kinda like Fallon’s Thank You Notes. We get jokes about The Ten Commandments, Sarah Palin, and George Clooney, building up to the number of shows Seth has done: 80. Easy enough to do! Even I can do it, look: 10: the number of jokes in This Week In Numbers. 0: The Number of Fucks I Give About This Bit. Grade: D
Ethan Hawke is first up to talk about his new movie Boyhood. We hear some very… HOLY SHIT ETHAN WHAT IS UP WITH THOSE TEETH!?! Put the cigarettes and Just for Men Medium Brown down for a minute and get that snaggletooth fixed! You’re a movie star. It’s frankly all I can focus on while he talks about filming and being recognized for other roles #ForeverTroy. Seth lobs softballs graciously, giving Ethan a wide berth to relate stories he’s no doubt told on other talk shows. Grade: B-
Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly comes on and talks about her recent interview with Vice President Cheney. She gained national attention for grilling the right hand of President Bush about being wrong about the Middle East, and says that Laura Cheney wasn’t mad about it because she’s a journalist doing her job. Well, that’s true. To me it feels a little like we’re on egg shells here, Still, points for having a newsperson on to break up the regular parade of actors/comedians. Its a fairly short segment too, so it doesn’t drag down the proceedings too much. Grade: C
I follow Paula Pell on Twitter and when she tweeted she was on, I knew i’d tune in to see her. She’s one of the funniest writers on SNL and has been there since 1994. So Paula comes out with her bra on the outside. It’s an obvious bit, and you can feel the strain as Paula and Seth try to get through it. Paula makes a reference to her high-beams and saves it after whipping it off and throwing it behind Seth. Yay Feminism! Paula talks about her bona fides writing legendary SNL skits like Cheerleaders, then a little plug for a movie she’s doing with Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, along with a barrage of former SNL talent. She then plugs her web show, where whoever holds her basset hound must tell the truth. It looks promising! Best joke: Your tits smell. Paula ends the segment by hiking her dress up and stretching her leggy-leg onto the desk as Seth goes to break. As usual Seth is most at ease when interviewing friends and co-workers from SNL. His banter is notably more knowing, more jokey, and more relaxed. It’s also notable that this is the longest interview. Grade: C+
Overall Grade: C
Overall, Seth’s doing a very workman-like job. It’s very much a talk show, which changes the pace nicely from Fallon’s Variety Tonight Show. Granted, this is one show, and I don’t watch every night like I would when Dave and Conan did. Or even semi-regularly when Jimmy Fallon held the reigns. It could be a bad sampling. It’s good to see Seth get more comfortable during the monologue, and thankfully we were spared any character-heavy sketches this go-round. Seth is staying true to his promise of not reinventing the form. Which is kinda sad, and probably why I don’t tune in regularly.
Thoughts? Agree or Disagree? Show me some comment love below!