It’s Thursday night and Seth Meyers has reached the end of his official work week: I’ve watched him record “Late Night,” which he’s hosted since 2014, and I’ve watched him make his weekly web-only add-on has: “Corrections,” an Emmy-nominated bonus segment in which he addresses all the picky comments viewers leave on his YouTube videos. Now he’s settled in a green room at 30 Rock with an ice-cold drink for an interview with The Envelope. Miller time? No: “It’s a Negroni,” he notes. “From the can.” Cheers!
The pandemic quarantine doesn’t have many silver linings, but by doing “Late Night” from your attic for a few months, you’ve learned how to work without an audience. How did that help with the development of “Corrections” that you do in front of an essentially empty studio?
We fell in love with the show without an audience. “Corrections” was the way to hold on to one piece and say, “Hey, we also love what some of you loved back home and that’s why we’re still going to do that because it’s a special 20 minutes a week, that you remember the closeness that we had.” Because part of Corrections is when there’s actually nobody in the room with me, we’re all in the same room.
Comedians always talk about feeding on the energy in the room, but you seem quite comfortable with the lack of energy. Before the taping of tonight’s main show even started, you told the audience not to applaud certain jokes because you don’t know what to do with yourself when that happens.
Weirdly, I loved not having that moment where every single joke was audibly judged. Something like “A Closer Look” is very densely written. The last thing we want is to have to hit the brakes, even when it’s nice. I love it when people laugh so I want a reaction. But I also like not to slow down.
“Corrections” also reminds me of when David Letterman first made “Late Night” – that spontaneous, unvarnished, no-budget feeling. For me, late night shows really changed when executives decided they were moneymakers and started paying attention to ratings.
Doing something like “corrections” is an opportunity for us to say, “Hey, we’re not going to disrupt what’s become of the NBC late-night franchise.” But we loved the lo-fi, handcrafted feel of those [Letterman] Shows and the freedom of knowing no one is watching.
Has “Corrections” made you a freer, looser host for “Late Night”?
Yes. This looseness has been pushed more on us by the pandemic, but I found that I liked it and am trying to stick with it. “Corrections” is that way of ending each week by embracing looseness. It’s a great palate cleanser, especially since we’re talking about the end of this bloody nightmare week [which included the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas]. The kind of week you wish you had a different job in the world other than dealing with what happened that week.
You, along with several other late-night anchors, veered heavily into politics after the 2016 election and have stayed there. Do you regret this change?
no I enjoy what we’re doing now much more than what we did in the beginning. In the beginning I felt like I was getting a taste of what the Late Night show was supposed to be. While now I feel like I’m myself
Why remain political after Trump is voted out?
There are certain evil actors who say, “Why are you obsessed with him? Why are you always talking about him?” If I thought there was a new face in the Republican Party, I would switch. But I don’t think there is. You have two years to prove me wrong.
In HBO’s new documentary, George Carlin’s American Dream, Jerry Seinfeld states that nothing a comedian has ever said changed his mind. Are you hoping to change your mind with what you’re doing on Late Night?
If there is one minor change, it would be to persuade people to vote instead of not voting. I don’t think I’m necessarily changing my mind. This is a place where people can come to feel cathartic. I don’t think we’re trying to change our minds, nor do I think there would be any way to change certain opinions.
I’ve always harbored this naïve notion that well-crafted entertainment could allow audiences to see the world in different ways, or to empathize with people they don’t know. If not, what’s the point of getting into controversy like you do?
Well it’s entertaining, that’s one thing. When people can watch and laugh, they feel better about life. I don’t believe that laughter just passes through us ineffectively. Because especially after the terrible events of this week, you realize that sometimes it’s best to get to the bottom of yourself and your family and find joy there. I’m not selfish enough to think we’re going to make a difference. But I’m not going to pretend we can’t.
https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/awards/story/2022-06-20/seth-meyers-corrections-segment-keeps-that-audience-connection-going Seth Meyers’ ‘Corrections’ keeps audience connection going