A little over a month stands in the way of Seth Meyers making his debut as host of "Late Night," and he's trying to work in as much preparation as possible ahead of his unveiling.
"Maybe I should ask the questions?" he said. "I need the practice."
The 40-year-old comedian makes his transition from "Saturday Night Live" to "Late Night" talk show host on Feb. 24, taking over the chair held by fellow "SNL" alum Jimmy Fallon. It's a changing of the guard on NBC, with Fallon taking over the "Tonight Show" as Leno gets set to make his exit (once more).
Show Tracker caught up with Meyers on Monday; he was in town for the Golden Globes and making his affiliate rounds. Read on for his thoughts on what kind of host he expects to be, lessons from Fallon, and what he might do if Jacqueline Bisset was on as a guest.
We’re a little over a month away.
Yeah, six weeks.
But who’s counting, right? Do you have a calendar up, crossing off each day?
Now, I think I am. It’s really weird because I got the job last April and everyone was like, “Oh, February, that’s so far away. You’re good.” And now I realize how it’s creeping up because the time frame shrinks every time someone brings it up. Soon it’s going to be like, “Oh, it’s tomorrow” and I am going to get in the fetal position. So, yeah, I’ve started counting. Still haven't quite locked down whether I'm going to have a band or a DJ since my last interview. I know. I know. I’m so not musical.
Take me back to that day where you basically hear the words, "We want you to be the next host of ‘Late Night.’ ”
It was weird. Really weird. Genuinely, the first thing was like, I mean, it was the first time I realized I wouldn’t be at “SNL” until I died. I had this moment where it wasn’t even thinking about, "Whoa, hosting 'Late Night.' " It was just me hung up on the idea that I’d be moving on. So my first emotion was paralyzing sadness.
But you really didn't think you’d be at “SNL” until you died, right?
No, I knew I had to leave. But I hadn’t ever thought about what it would be — what would be enough to take me away. I’d gone through this whole cycle where the people I had started with had left, and then people who had come when I was already there had left. I kind of had this feeling like I knew I eventually had to leave. So when this came up, it immediately felt like the right thing to move on to from “SNL.”
Was there much mulling over the idea?
I’m a pretty classic over-thinker. There was pros and cons lists. My wife is very good at laying things out, so the two of us made some of those. There were way more pros than cons.
You enter a heated club. The late-night arena has had its share of clashes. Do you expect to find yourself part of any opposition?
Oh, no, no, no! We joke that if there’s ever another book about late-night wars, we want to be the most boring chapter. That’s what our goal is. Mostly because I would hate to see whom HBO or Netflix or whatever entity casts as me when they make it into a film.
I imagine there’s an overwhelming sense of pressure. You’re stepping into the shoes of Conan O’Brien and your friend Jimmy Fallon, who has managed to make the show his own. And, of course, David Letterman who implored you to change the game.
Yeah, that was — by the way, it’s a great title, “The Tomorrow Show,” but I would never … it would seem so pretentious to change the name of a legacy show. But, yeah, I feel a great deal of pressure. When you do something like “Weekend Update” you think, “Oh, my god, so few people have done this job.” But it’s still four or five times as many who have done this job. You don’t want to be the guy who screws it up. I’m such a fan of the three people who have done it before me. It’ll be the month I forget to pay my Internet bill.