Seth Meyers, the former Chicago actor turned star of "Saturday Night Live," was in Chicago on Monday to promote his new gig: host of "Late Night" on NBC. Meyers will take over from Jimmy Fallon, who is moving up to the "Tonight Show," replacing Jay Leno. Meyers spoke in a conference room at the studios of NBC-Ch. 5.
Q: You've already hired a lot of writers with roots in Chicago sketch comedy.
A: Yes. John Lutz. Conner O'Malley. Amber Ruffin. Peter Grosz. People you know. And we've a small writing staff.
Q: You're ready?
A. I'm still six weeks out, but I really want to get going. You can only do so much before you start. It's not about what you write in advance, it's about the 23-hour turnaround. The writers have started pitching what we would do today, as distinct from banking ideas.
These days, even something that seems evergreen really isn't. Not anymore.
Q: So what's the format?
A: We want to have a really strong monologue.
A: Classic. I've always succeeded mostly by doing material off the news. But I'm not going to turn my nose up at a really funny joke. If people think I'm smart but not funny, I won't be on the air very long.
Q: And then?
A: Then we'll do some desk comedy. We've tried to staff up with writers who can also come out and play.
I love playing the straight man to the people who have the jokes. We don't want to deconstruct the model of the talk show, but there also is no reason to be safe when you are on at 11:30 p.m. See? I converted it to Central Time for you.
I would love for there to be some fictional returning characters on the show. I've long identified myself as a sketch writer and I don't want to run from that world now.
Q: And then you will have guests. What kind?
A: Well, we'll have some of your traditional, ahem, showbiz guests. But we also want to build a stable of weird, quirky people you associate with the show. People you might learn something from. People who do not have that sense of junket-exhaustion about them. It would be fun to get a Toronto reporter, say, to explain what anybody ever saw in Rob Ford.
Q: You'd invite Chris Christie? Bridget Anne Kelly?
A: Absolutely we would. And we'll have bands and stand-ups. It's all about being funny and good.