It’s been a year since Seth Meyers moved from the anchor desk on Saturday Night Live’s Weekend Update to the host’s desk on Late Night. Meyers is the third comedian to host the show and the second with ties to SNL (though Conan O’Brien’s contribution was more behind the scenes and in the writing room than Meyers. Okay, maybe not fair as Meyers was also head writer on SNL).
So how’s he doing?
The answer is pretty good. Along with lead-in The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, Late Night is killing it in the ratings. For now, Nightline and CBS’s Late Late Show aren’t much competition for the new host.
What do critics think of Seth?
Well, Rotten Tomatoes gives the show a 50 percent rating – but with only four votes that hardly counts. Metacritic is a bit more reliable, rating Meyers’ Late Night with a 61 and “generally favorable reviews” from critics. Entertainment Weekly and The New York Times gives him thumbs up while Variety and People are a little more harsh.
What do we think?
Well, we like Late Night a lot. It’s a quiet little late night talk show. Not as bombastic as Tonight or Jimmy Kimmel Live. Not as established and iconic as the Late Show. In a lot of ways, Meyers’ Late Night is a stripped down, straight forward talk show. Even the set seems minimalist. And with SNL co-start Fred Armisen at the band’s helm, it has an almost Wayne’s World feel to it. You know, two good friends having a go at a talk show.
And Meyers’ Late Night is not lacking in the memorable moments category. Here are five of our favorite moments from Seth’s first year:
- Hosting the cast of Parks & Recreation after the series finale. In a way, this is a tradition started by Jay Leno when he hosted the cast of Cheers after that series’ final episode. Unlike that special – in which the Cheers cast spent more than six hours before air time partying through a mini-reunion – the cast of Parks & Rec was far less rambunctious. The cast shared jokes, behind the scenes stories and even sang “Bye, Bye Li’l Sebastian” – and inside joke show fans will understand – to send off the show.
- Chats with Fred Armisen. Whenever the band leader (and curator?) is in town and on the show, we love to listen to the banter between Seth and Fred. It reminds us a lot of Armisen’s appearances on Weekend Update when Seth would quiz a character Fred is playing and kind of whittle away at the insanity of whatever that character is doing. One of our favorites is when Seth talks to Fred about a photo gallery exhibit he has coming up. Fred explains that it’s an “Extreme Close Up” series of photos. Each one is a snap of concrete with the lens resting face down on the concrete. So, every photo is essentially black. “I just didn’t get a chance to look at them,” Fred says of not knowing his years’ long photo excursion would turn up imageless.
- Walking Dead star Norman Reedus is confronted by a zombie in the audience. This skit was such a throwback to the kind of comedy bits Conan would do on Late Night that we loved it all the same. In this rendition, actor Norman Reedus, who plays Daryl Dixon on The Walking Dead, is confronted by a zombie in the audience. The zombie takes umbrage at how zombies are stereotypically portrayed on the show. “What I’d like to see on the show,” the well-dressed zombie says, “is a college-educated zombie who runs a grocery store.” Norman eventually picks up a crossbow and points it at the zombie.
- Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir critique 30 Rock skaters. Another fun moment during Seth’s first year was when Olympic figure skaters Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir sat down at the desk and offered to critique skaters outside on Rockefeller Center’s famous skating rink. Portraying figure skating commentators, Lipinski and Weir talk about skaters’ “walking technique” and “texting technique.” “Here’s Alexis Ferguson,” Lipinski says, “and she’s going to attempt the classic skate and fall routine. I really enjoy it. I think she brings that childlike wonder to each topple.”
- Will Forte and “Second Chance Theater.” Former SNL cast member Will Forte occasionally visits Late Night to share some of his sketches that didn’t make it to Saturday Night Live. This exercise is affectionately referred to as “Second Chance Theater.” In one appearance on Late Night, Forte talks about a sketch he wrote in which a man with a metal detector claims he found someone’s parked car on the beach and, by the rules of the beach, Finder’s Keepers.