I used to be a fan of the late night talk shows in high school and college. I would watch Craig Ferguson constantly, try to catch a Leno monologue, view the randomness of Conan, see the top ten lists of Letterman, and Jon Stewart (although The Daily Show technically not a real late night show) was my favorite host. Then after graduating college I would really only watch the random Ferguson interview or clip, and I kinda stopped caring for the late night formula. I saw its limitations, frustrated by the constant simplicity of the celebrity interviews, which often were nothing more than a PR note given and practically scripted event, and the similarities between the monologue jokes, only differing through the hosts’ personalities. But now that there is a new late night regime, I’m finding myself checking out clips on YouTube the next day more and more, led by my favorite host, Seth Meyers.
Seth Meyers is different. Late Night still has the sketches, the celebrity interviews, the studio audience, the band, and monologues, but Meyers has a professionalism that Fallon doesn’t have, he’s more comfortable interviewing in the gentler late night talk show landscape than Colbert, and his “A Closer Look” segment is absolutely killing it. I’ve always been a fan of Seth Meyers since his time on Saturday Night Live, and I really like the way he acts as a host of a late night talk show.
When he first took over Late Night from Fallon, he wasn’t that great. He was visibly nervous during the monologues, the show didn’t have a lot of interesting segments, and he was really only good during the interviews. It was disappointing that it wasn’t compelling at the start, but it’s a completely different style of show than doing ten minutes of “Weekend Update” on SNL. There was bound to be growing pains.
Then after a few months, Meyers began to relax, he stopped standing up during his monologues, his interviewing skills became even better, and his segments would go viral. The show is now good. Meyers is a gifted interviewer, never relying on cards, asking solid follow-up questions, and never appearing to discuss previously approved topics. That lack card speaks volumes of his intelligence and his preparedness. Meyers enters each show carefully crafting its jokes and the topics he hopes to discuss with his guests. It gives the show a sense of completion, where nothing feels last minute or unintended.
My favorite aspect of Meyers show is his recurring segment “A Closer Look”. A Closer Look had a trial run once during his tenor on Weekend Update, and was resurrected for Late Night. It has been consistently the best and most popular aspect of his show. The segment focuses on a recent news story, often political, that might have been misrepresented by certain parties. Meyers will inform the audience the full story, what was previously reported, and what might have been missed, all layered with jokes and astute commentary.
Since the end of the presidential election, most, if not all of A Closer Look segments have focused on Trump and his new administration. Meyers often will point out the hypocrisy of the government, but will also point out what news organizations will overlook or miss, how many people will focus on one small thing and not the greater, arguably more important story. Meyers has found a way to bring in political humor and discussion to the late night talk show format that doesn’t involve low-hanging punchlines during a monologue. The ten minute segments are well researched and funny, relying on facts and cited information to set up punchlines.
Meyers is great as a late night talk show host, and I’m happy to see A Closer Look perform consistently well on YouTube and that his audience is growing because of it. The segment is consistently funny and indicative of the show: informative, hilarious, smart, and well crafted. I hope it continues to be a showcase for Meyers and his solid interviews, his quick wit, and his style of humor. Plus, what other late night host will pick up a bull horn mid segment to proclaim “Your eyes are the color of a placid mountain lake” or laugh and enjoy the moment a joke fails? Only Seth Meyers, the host of Late Night.