Interview: Seth Meyers
SNL's head writer stays true to his first showbiz job and to NYC.
Wed Mar 28 2012
Photograph: Dale May
Now that you and Stefon, Bill Hader’s nightlife-obsessed character, have smooched publicly, will it be weird between you two?
You have to realize America is only seeing my relationship with Stefon from the waist up. For them, the kiss was a big deal; for us, it was nothing. That was some Jane Austen shit compared to what’s going on underneath the desk.
Do you think your next career move will provide the sort of rush SNL does?
Unless the Navy SEALs are next for me—which I have to assume, given everything I’ve read about the Navy SEALs, that I’m not cut out for—whatever I do next will be boring. I can’t do SNL forever, but it’s thrilling. No matter how many times you’re successful, you never get used to that moment on Saturday morning when you still have things to pull together. Sometimes you’ll think, Oh, this is the week it all falls apart.
Is it an addiction?
It is, to some degree. The last few years, so many recent alumni like Tina [Fey] and Jimmy [Fallon] have come back and hosted, and it’s been fascinating to see the show through their eyes. Even if you’re away from it for a week, you come back and it seems completely insane.
You mention you don’t think you can do it forever. Is that based on the fact that…
No one’s done it forever? But also, the schedule is dumb. And at some point, people seem to be drawn to having families and moving out to cities that have more space and backyards.
In the clips I’ve seen, you seem very at home doing stand-up.
If you watch SNL, you know I was so bad at characters that they put me behind a desk and said, “We’re going to give you one suit and one tie, and you’re staying put.” As a performer with an incredibly limited range, stand-up works really well for me because the only thing the audience expects from you is to be yourself.
At the 2011 White House Correspondents’ Dinner, you came across as very well composed, but how nerve-racking was it, really?
The most nerve-racked I’ve ever been. The hardest thing was having dinner with the First Lady for 90 minutes, when normally before a show, I would like to be pacing backstage.
Donald Trump’s response to his roasting was delightfully curmudgeonly.
My greatest experience as a New Yorker is being on that guy’s shit list. Unless I accomplish something better, it’s probably going on my tombstone: “Trump called him a third-rate comedian.” The other great thing is that he keeps bringing people’s attention to it by talking about it.
What zingers have you crafted for your next encounter?
I feel very good about the job I did that night and I’m very happy to let that live on, but I’m being noble. The code of a ninja assassin is to kill someone only once.