Q&A: Seth Meyers

Seth Meyers—now in his 10th season on Saturday Night Live and fifth as its head writer—is best known as the show’s “Weekend Update” anchor. But before he was live from New York, Meyers grew up a die-hard Red Sox fan in Manchester, New Hampshire. On April 28, he returns to New England to perform standup at the Wilbur Theatre. Maybe, for the day at least, we can make him feel at home.


Courtesy of Seth Meyers/NBC

A lot of people probably mistake you as being from Boston.
Yeah, they just assume I’m from Boston. Although if you’re from New Hampshire, to Boston people you might as well be from outer space. The weird thing is that, growing up, we were a Boston Globe family and we watched Boston TV stations, so I was surprised to find out that we didn’t count as Boston.

There was just a proposal in the New Hampshire legislature to put up a sign 500 feet from the border warning motorists that they’re about to enter Massachusetts.
That’s really funny. God bless their hearts. New Hampshire has the same chip on its shoulder that Boston has about New York.

When you were in high school, were you into comedy and acting?
Yeah, my parents introduced me to SNL, Monty Python, and Richard Pryor probably way earlier than they had any right to. I started in high school, and in college I studied radio, TV, and film. The plan was to be a filmmaker, and it was always comedy.

Do you think this election season will be harder than last for SNL?
I do. It’s always more fun when there’s no incumbent, because you have all new people. And Sarah Palin, I don’t think any of us would ever take for granted the way that played into our hands. If it is Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, those guys are pretty good at not being silly, and we do better when people are silly.

Yeah, Mitt Romney is the opposite of silly.
He is the opposite. Well, in 2004 I had the fortune, or the misfortune, of playing John Kerry. It was hard because I think the best impressions exaggerate someone’s most well-known quality. And exaggerating gravitas is very hard to pull off. Jason Sudeikis does a great Romney, but we can’t just make stuff up about a guy. We’re playing him as stiff because we think he’s stiff, and that can make the comedy seem stiff, but we’re sort of  boxed into reality.

How long do you see yourself doing SNL?
Well, I do want to get through the next election season, just because those are such exciting times on the show, but at some point I’m going to have to move on to something else.

And do you think that’s more movies, or …
I don’t know. I like the thrill of putting together a show, and movies move so much slower. You get so used to the pace of not just TV, but live TV, and I’ve become a little bit of a junkie for it. I don’t know if I could just go cold turkey with whatever I get next.

Since it’s April, can I get a Red Sox prediction from you?
We’re going to bounce back from September. I think our April will be better than last September. So at least over seven wins.

That’s bold.
Mmmhmm. I’m a bold man. I throw caution to the wind.

Actually, I have a question on joke etiquette. Is it still okay to make fried-chicken jokes at this point?
I like, first of all, that Boston fans are concerned about joke etiquette. I do think that fried chicken will be fair for every other team for the whole year, but that locally it’s probably played out.

Disappointing, but okay. That was all such a mess.
The weird thing about last year is that even when we were in first place, it didn’t quite feel right. There was just something about that team that did not instill the same passion in me. I do think the fact that they have to rebound from September will give them that underdog status that I so love from my Red Sox.

Yeah, something really did feel off last year.
Well, I will say that if 2004 was the year you finally married the girl you’ve been playing cat and mouse with your whole life, then 2011 was when you realized she’s just been drinking beer and eating fried chicken.

Oh no.
So there you go, I’ve broken joke etiquette.


Photo credit: Seth Meyers/NBC