Seth Meyers hurried out onto the stage and grabbed the microphone. Wearing his wide, trademark grin along with a plaid button-down shirt, blue jeans and Nikes with trailing shoelaces, the “Saturday Night Live” comic launched straight into his first joke of the night: “(The opening act) and I were so excited to be here. We thought we were coming to a college of New Jersey, and we find out we’re at The College of New Jersey … I mean this is the big time.”
Big time or not, Meyers’ standup performance at the College on March 16 evoked some pretty big laughs with the sold-out Kendall Hall audience. Never hitting a false note, much of his comedy came from personal stories (which one could only hope were exaggerated), like messing up his handshake with the President, a bar fight in a Las Vegas club and a time he thought he had been recognized, only to discover that the man who shouted “Oh my God!” was reacting to a car crash further down the street. “I thought to myself, ‘You are such a dick. You thought that someone would react the same way to seeing you as they would to a car crash,’” Meyers said grinning — who is best known for his role as SNL’s Weekend Update host. “But then I thought, ‘What if the driver of the car also saw me?’”
Similar to some of his best work on SNL, Meyers boldly delved into political subjects for a large part of his performance. Recently, he said, it was announced that there might now be less than 50 al-Qaida in Afghanistan — “If there’s less than 50, do we really need the whole U.S. army there? Couldn’t we just send like the Duggar family? Like the Duggar family in a tank?”
Meyers also addressed the now-famous incident when he gave an unexpectedly prescient joke about Osama Bin Laden while hosting the annual White House Correspondents’ Dinner last May, totally unaware that U.S. intelligence had found Bin Laden and Navy Seals would kill him within hours.
“The night of the Correspondents’ dinner I thought I did a really good job … I was looking forward to a day of press,” said Meyers, confessing his disappointment when President Barack Obama, who had laughed at his Bin Laden joke along with everyone else at the dinner, stole back the spotlight by giving the announcement of the terrorist’s death the very next day. “If my jokes weren’t that good, Osama would still be alive today.”
Despite his great standup, Meyers, who is also SNL’s head writer, told The Signal in a post-show interview that he associates with himself more as a writer than a performer.
“Writing is challenging because with writing you kind of have to start from scratch every week, but it’s also way more rewarding,” said Meyers, but said he found it frustrating when he was a cast member writing for himself. “I feel like if I write something for a Kristen Wiig or a Bill Hader they’re going to make it so much better … Standing backstage and hearing a joke you wrote get said by somebody else and going great is a really awesome feeling.”
Meyers has been on the show since 2001, which makes him the longest-tenured cast member.
“I don’t think about it all the time but it’s getting harder and harder of course,” he admitted. “As people leave I sort of feel like I’m entering my third generation on the show.” Meyers said he doesn’t have any specific plans for the future, but will follow opportunity when it presents itself.
Still, he isn’t going anywhere just yet — Meyers is excited for this year’s presidential election, which will be his third on SNL. “That would be really nice to do one more of those, and then maybe start to think about what comes next,” he said.
Fellow SNL writer Colin Jost opened for Meyers, warming up the audience with his hilariously cynical, funny-because-it’s-true style of humor; “I’m allowed to make fun of N.J. because I come from the only place that’s worse,” Jost cracked to the giggling crowd of students. “Staten Island is basically like Brooklyn and N.J. had a baby — a very hairy baby.”
Jost also covered topics like America’s immigrants, being accidentally racist, poor-quality TV commercials and HBO’s “True Blood”; “I can’t think of anything less sexy than a southern vampire. Just like a dude in a cape and a trucker hat, drinking blood out of a can.” The comic graduated from Harvard University and has been on SNL’s writing staff for seven years.
“The comedy show was great,” said sophomore marketing major Brian Green, the CUB event coordinator who organized the show. “Seth Meyers was spot on with his jokes, and the audience seemed to really appreciate his humor.”
Meyers concluded the show with several appallingly funny Weekend Update jokes that didn’t make it past NBC censors. “A new study shows that college students gain six to nine pounds their first year, due to an increase in beer consumption and a decrease in exercise,” Meyers read from a flash card. “The rest of the Freshman 15 is a baby.” Amidst the few groans, the laughter around the theater was undeniable.