Q&A with Seth Meyers

After much anticipation, Seth Meyers, head writer of NBC’s Saturday Night Live, stepped on stage in Goodrich Chapel to an enthusiastic crowd at Albion College.
On April 16, Meyers, a Northwestern University graduate, performed an hour-long standup set for Albion College students, faculty and their guests. (You can read about how Albion College’s Union Board set up this year’s “Big Show” here). After his set was finished, several members of The Pleiad had the opportunity to sit down with him and ask him a few questions.

The Pleiad:  Do you do college standup shows often?

Meyers:  Yeah, I do when I can. Most of my time off is in the summer, when colleges aren’t in session, so it really just depends on the scheduling. It’s a lot of fun.

How is preparing for a college standup show different than preparing for Saturday Night Live?

I like doing standup because it’s where I started. I used to do improv when I was at Northwestern. For “Weekend Update,” I have specific jokes written out. Standup is more indulgent. I get to cater more to the audience and talk about my own life.

So, what is the writing process like on Saturday Night Live?

We have fifteen to twenty writers and pretty much start from scratch every week. It’s kind of like cramming for finals. Monday we meet with the host and throw around ideas. We end up generating about 40 sketches, and then of those 40, we pick between eight to ten. On Thursday, we rework things and punch up the jokes a little. Friday and Saturday we’re at the writers table, finalizing things and making sure everything is ready.

It sounds like kind of a crazy process.

It is, but it’s fun.

How is it different writing during an election year?

I think writing during and election year is more exciting. I think this year, there was a little less excitement, just because everyone kind of knew it was inevitable the nomination was going to Romney. I don’t think Americans were paying as much attention to some of the other candidates.

So, do you think that some of the SNL sketches raise awareness about current events, or is it all fun and games?

They probably do raise a little political awareness, but it’s not our goal. We write to entertain. We do have to take our political point of views seriously though. We make sure we use our facts accurately

Out of curiosity, what’s the most memorable sketch you’ve contributed to?

I wrote the Sarah Palin sketches with Tina (Fey), and those were a lot of fun. This year I wrote for Alec Baldwin. There was one sketch where Alec Baldwin was acting as a pilot talking about Alec Baldwin. It was fun to write for him, since he’s a friend of the show.

We’ve got time for one more question. I promised the guys I brought with me I’d ask this for them: What was your best pick up line in college?

Probably, “In five to six years, I’ll be on Saturday Night Live” (laughs). No, I wasn’t very good with girls in college. I had terrible game. The nice thing I’ve found about girls though is if you can make them laugh, you’ll do alright (laughs).

Well, it was so nice meeting you. Thanks so much for talking with me.

Of course. It was a pleasure.

Photo by Jennifer Schreer 

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