Tag Archives: Saturday Night Live

Meyers Expands Far Beyond His Weekend Gig

Actor and comedian Seth Meyers has had one heck of a year.

2011 has seen the 37-year-old satirist hit the decade mark on NBC’s long-running “Saturday Night Live” (his fifth as the show’s head writer and Weekend Update anchor), he hosted ESPN’s annual ESPY Awards for the second year in a row, and was the keynote speaker at this year’s White House Correspondents Association Dinner.

Not bad for a one-time Northwestern University improv troupe member.

But despite the comedian’s busy schedule, he can’t help but make time for stand-up as well. An appearance at Pechanga Resort & Casino this weekend will be his last on a recent short run of dates before things at “Saturday Night Live” kick back into full gear.

And surprisingly, squeezing 10 dates of across-the-country comedy into his schedule this summer has little to do with keeping his wit sharp and at the ready.

“I just truly love it,” said Meyers recently from New York. “It’s a nice side effect that it keeps you on your toes, but that’s certainly not the only reason I do it. I mean, it’s a whole lot more fun than, say, getting up and going to the gym in the morning. But I do truly love doing stand-up and traveling around the country performing in front of different and unique crowds. It’s a blast.”

After this weekend’s show at Pechanga, Meyers will return to the East Coast and focus exclusively on the new season of “Saturday Night Live.” And it is not lost on him that this season is indeed significant.

“It’s a very cool milestone,” he said. “My very first show at ‘SNL’ was the first one they did after 9/11. So I’m constantly reminded that I’m hitting my decade point. But 10 years is crazy. And I’ve been in the same office the whole time. The only difference is that when I started, there were two other writers in it with me. The way they promote you at ‘SNL’ is that they take people out of your office. They don’t move you to a nicer one.”

Despite not getting new digs during his tenure with the show, the comedian notes the timing of his selection to the cast as a benefit itself.

“I’ve been really lucky in my time with the show,” Meyers said. “I feel like when I came in, I got to work under people who were excellent at the job like Will Ferrell, Tina Fey, and Jimmy Fallon. And the people I came in with were people like Amy Poehler. I’ve also been able to be around for great new people like Bill Hader. I’ve been able to work with great people over the last 10 years.”

Meyers’ good fortune hasn’t ended there. His high-profile gig on late-night television has translated into a few prodigious hosting opportunities in the last few years.

A huge sports fan, he has helmed ESPN’s ESPY Awards for the past two years; and blurring the line between his political satire and its subjects, he had the honor of giving the keynote speech at the White House Correspondents dinner in April.

“It was crazy,” he said. “Of all the gigs I’ve had in my life, it was certainly the one I was most nervous about. But there’s almost no better comedy format than the roast. And there’s something so wonderful about getting to roast the most powerful people on Earth on a night where it’s understood you’re supposed to do that. Ninety-nine percent of that audience understands it’s a night where they could get teased, and that makes it really fun.”

Meyers took the business of being funny that night very seriously.

“I worked with about five other writers,” he said. “We got together, read everything we’d written, and then whittled down. Other comedians may take those jokes out to a club to see how they played, but because it’s such an inside room, I didn’t want to do a joke I didn’t have faith in and have it stiff. So the craziest part of it all was that it was the first time I told any of those jokes. ‘SNL’ has a dress rehearsal and the ESPYs bring in an audience so I can test my monologue. But that was the first time I ever did those jokes in public.”

It also marked the first time something Meyers had done went totally global.

“It was exciting for me,” he said. “Because ‘SNL’ doesn’t play abroad, it’s something that really resonated overseas. And it was great for the foreigners I know who live in New York, because to them, it’s an amazing thing that I was allowed to stand next to the president and tell jokes about him. There just aren’t a lot of countries where you get to do that.”

But Meyers says all of it really comes back to growing up in a funny household. He and his brother, Josh of “MADtv,” both took their cues from their joke-cracking father and the family’s penchant for comedy in general.

“My parents were big fans of ‘SNL,’ Monty Python, Woody Allen and Steve Martin,” he said. “And they exposed us to that stuff at a far earlier age than a lot of other kids are. The timing of all of those things was really helpful. Also, my mother has laughed at everything my father has said for the last 40 years. And my mother is a beautiful woman. So my brother and I have always thought that was how you got a beautiful woman. It’s the move we can all fall back on.”



Everyone’s High on Cee-Lo These Days

Thomas Callaway (aka Cee-Lo Green) will perform at Fluxx on Thursday night. But it’s three days later, at the 53rd Grammy awards, when he has the chance to add to a string of recent career highlights that seem like they’re never going to end.

Callaway is no stranger to the Grammys, winning two in 2007 with collaborator Brian Burton (Danger Mouse) as half of the duo Gnarls Barkley. The nominations for this year’s awards show are not only bigger (Best Record of the Year, Best Song of the Year), if he happens to take home any statues, he’ll win them alone.

The child of two ordained ministers, Callaway first started singing in church. In his late teens, he found success with the rap outfit the Goodie Mob, who, with along with Outkast, helped to both put Atlanta on the hip-hop map and make the phrase Dirty South known west of the Mississippi and north of the Bible Belt.

After three albums with the Goodie Mob, Callaway left to pursue a solo career. Despite collaborations with the likes of Ludacris, Timbaland and Pharrell, his two solo efforts received lukewarm commercial receptions, and he was dropped from Arista Records.

Then came his partnership with Burton in Gnarls Barkley, and everything changed. The single “Crazy” bucked major trends by hitting No. 1 while still only a digital release and went on to reach that peak all over the globe.

These days, Callaway is still making a habit of bucking trends. He’s again hit the top spot and garnered Grammy nods, but this time it’s with the ironically titled single, “Fuck You.”

I recently spoke with the singer/rapper/producer about having a No. 1 single that can’t be played on the radio without editing, the future of Gnarls Barkley and Goodie Mob, and keeping up with multiple projects.

Scott McDonald: How are you? Wait, what am I saying? You’re good, right?
Cee-Lo Green: Well, you know what they say: Somebody’s doing better, and somebody’s doing worse. So you can’t complain about being in the middle somewhere.

SM: I know you just played with Prince. How did that go?
CL: The show was a success. And it was successful in just the way that the word success sounds. And by that, I mean it’s really an understatement. It was incredible.

SM: Your schedule is crazy these days. How do you find time to write? Do you do it on the road or wait until you have some time off?
CL: All of the above. Sometimes I’m plotting bits and pieces to complete a thought of something bigger that’s already in place, and sometimes it’s all at once. But it’s a bit of a jigsaw. There’s no formula to it, but there’s a method to the madness. It just depends on how it comes. But someone like Lil’ Wayne has mastered that multitasking far better than I have. I really respect his hustle and how hard he goes about it. But there is always a difference between quantity and quality product, so sometimes, it’s better to take a little longer — usually it’s worth it.

SM: You just appeared on Saturday Night Live, and I know you’ve done voices for things like Robot Chicken. Any plans to take on acting more seriously?
CL: To me, they’re kind of one in the same. They’re like, what is it, maternal twins? One comes a little later than the other, but they’re still identical. It’s kinda like that. When you experience something and you write it down, and then go to the booth to re-enact or reanimate that experience, you are acting a bit. It’s a reenactment. So they’re very closely related. I have no plans, but I’m always open to good projects.

SM: Do you find it strange that the Grammys nominated a song titled “Fuck You?”
CL: I think so. It’s pretty unique and peculiar. But then again, I’ve seen a lot of stranger things happen. I mean, I’ve seen a monkey riding a bicycle.

SM: How do you feel about having to change the lyrics all the time?
CL: It is what it is. But you know what’s cool? “Fuck You” and “Forget You” were in the Top 10 at the same time. As a matter of fact, you know what’s cooler than that? Let’s get ice cold: “Fuck You,” “Forget You” and the Gleeversion of “Forget You” were all in the Top 10 at the same time. So what can I say?

SM: I heard the Goodies were getting back together. True?
CL: The Goodie Mob is reunited. But we were really never severed. We were just stretched out. Over time, it’s just been a testament to our elasticity. We’re working on a new record right now. It’s the next thing you’ll hear from me.

SM: Gnarls Barkley?
CL: I just talked to Brian recently. We’re definitely going to get together to do another Gnarls Barkley album. We’d really like to get back together to do it and, I think, so would the people, and that’s what’s most important. Just gotta find something to write about. Maybe my heart needs to get broken again. I don’t know.

SM: With all of these projects, when will you take some time off?
CL: Why should I? There’s nothing else to do. What I love is music, of course, and doing what you love is a special thing. There’s just nothing more enjoyable to me. It’s not work. I preach the lesson of music so that the appreciation factor is being heightened and the conditioning from monotony and mediocrity — and those molds — are being broken one great song at a time. And it’s a process. I’m an agent of it, and on a serious note, that’s what it’s really all about – pushing forward and revitalizing an industry that’s on its ear.

SM: What’s next? I assume it’s not going to be just more of the same.
CL: More stuff keeps coming to mind every day. Each day is a song. And I prefer it this way, man. Predictability is a precursor to death.

Originally published on NBC SoundDiego February 09, 2011: