Interview: Seth Meyers is up for hosting gigs, but not yet on 'SNL'

Seth Meyers broke out a Chicago accent during his monologue on Thursday’s episode of “Late Night with Seth Meyers” when joking about the city’s ban on plastic grocery bags. The former Northwestern University and iO alum lengthened his A’s during the impersonation (“plaaastic”) and stretched out the sides of his mouth for emphasis.

Asked about his inspiration for the accent, Meyers credited his writing staff.

“We have a lot of ‘SNL’ — I’m sorry, we have a lot of ‘Late Night’ writers who are from the area,” said Meyers, sitting in a tuxedo in his Soldier Field suite before performing at Make-A-Wish Illinois’ Wish Ball in the stadium’s United Club. “They don’t have (Chicago accents), but they like to do them. It’s the best. You get a taxi driver (with the accent) and it’s just the best.”

This probably wasn’t Meyers’ first time mixing up “Saturday Night Live” and “Late Night” and it likely won’t be his last. He spent 13 years at “SNL” before taking over “Late Night” from Jimmy Fallon in February. And it probably doesn’t help that both shows tape on the same floor in New York’s Rockefeller Plaza and are both produced by Lorne Michaels.

“’SNL’ is like ‘SimCity,’ “ Meyers said. “It moves really fast. If you’re gone for a week, it’s almost like a new vocabulary has been born when you weren’t there. It’s great to go back and see my friends, but it’s really funny how quickly you don’t know how the heart beats there.”

While Meyers performed for a crowd of about 940 guests at Wish Ball, Joel McHale took the podium as the featured entertainer at the White House correspondents' dinner — a position Meyers held for the 2011 edition. Meyers famously zinged President Barack Obama about his inability to capture terrorist Osama Bin Laden, unaware at the time, like the rest of us, that U.S. intelligence had located Bin Laden’s whereabouts and would raid his compound the day after the event was held.

“I do feel like I’m a part of history. I’ll talk about it tonight because it’s the three-year anniversary, but it’s always nice to think I made the last living Osama Bin Laden joke,” said Meyers, laughing.

Meyers often seems like he’s on the verge of cracking up when speaking. And because it seems genuine, you can’t help but laugh yourself. Also contagious: The giddy excitement he showed during our conversation while discussing everything from Kanye West’s “The College Dropout” album to Donald Trump’s angry tweets about him Friday.

The tweets, obviously, were retaliation for Meyers’ many jokes about Trump at the 2011 correspondents’ dinner.

“The best — the best,” Meyers said of the tweets. “God love him. It would be tacky if every year I reminded people on Twitter of my performance. But I don’t have to, because Donald Trump does it for me. He keeps alive the thing you would think he would want to go away. You don’t need a degree in psychology to track what happened yesterday. I’m sure somebody rolled the highlights of the correspondents’ dinners from years past and he had the TV on and just went to town.”

Trump called Meyers “a total loser” and “very awkward and insecure,” among other things, on Twitter. According to Time magazine, the 40-year-old Meyers is one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2014. The talk show host made the Time 100 last month, along with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Pope Francis, Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos and singer Beyonce Knowles.

On Aug. 25, Meyers will host NBC’s Emmy Awards broadcast for the first time. He previously hosted ESPN’s ESPYs in 2011.

“I like telling jokes in a sort of Master of Ceremony fashion,” Meyers said. “The nice thing about the ESPYs and the correspondents’ dinner, compared to the Emmys, is nobody really cares who wins the awards at the ESPYs and there are no awards at the correspondents’ dinner. The Emmys, I’ve been in the audience where you’re excited when it starts and then you don’t win your award and you’re in a bad mood no matter how funny the show is. So that’s the challenge for anybody who hosts those kinds of awards shows, remembering as the night goes on that there are more and more people disappointed in the audience.”

One show Meyers doesn’t feel he’s quite ready to host is the one that made him famous.

“I would like to put that a little bit farther in the future, mostly because I don’t think I’d be very good at it,” Meyers said about potentially hosting “SNL.” “It would be a thing I wouldn’t be able to say no to. Like (Andy) Samberg will be great when he does it for the season finale — that’s a no-brainer. It’s a some-brainer for me.”

lgomez@tribune.com | Twitter @TribLuis

For more celebrity news in Chicago, go to chicagotribune.com/luis

Copyright © 2015, RedEye
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