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Late night update: good start

By Alex Sferrazza
On March 2, 2014

Weekend Update five nights a week? Sign me up! After a 12 year stint on "Saturday Night Live," comic Seth Meyers has finally landed his very own late night talk show. In an unpredictable (well maybe not) series of events in early 2010 Conan O'Brien departed NBC and set the stage for Jimmy Fallon to take over "The Tonight Show" in a few short years. These left the door open for Meyers to claim the mantle of host for NBC's "Late Night" franchise this past week. Considering some of comedy's biggest icons have consistently re invented the late night format itself on the program, it would be an understatement to say that Mr. Meyers has some pretty big shoes to fill. Be they David Letterman's absurdist humor and remote bits, O'Brien's colorful cast of characters and elaborate sketches, or Jimmy Fallon's consistent viral video hit creating.
Fortunately for Meyers, his premiere episode was solid.
Meyers opened with a mock version of Jimmy Fallon's popular "Thank You Notes." After, a somewhat nervous Meyers got through a monologue fairly well, although it was clear that the comedian is still in "Weekend Update" mode. The punchiness is still funny, but his flow was a bit off. It'll probably take the new host some time to get acclimated to the new format.
Following the monologue, Meyers proceeded to have a quick conversation with bandleader and fellow ex-SNL cast mate Fred Armisen. Meyers noted how busy Armisen has been, working on his IFC series "Portlandia" in addition to his new gig on "Late Night." Armisen then proceeded to give an outlandish plug for his fictitious new program on the History Channel covering recent history. It was a fun little bit showcasing the absurdness the program is unafraid of demonstrating.
The first comedy bit ever done by the program was "Venn Diagrams." The classic elementary school learning tool was revived for "Late Night." For example: there are two separate terms, "Snow" and "Toilet Paper," and the host then reveals what they have in common-"things you won't find in Sochi." It's an original and amusing bit, while not laugh out loud funny; it's enough to keep you entertained without getting bored.
Meyers' very first guest, pal and former "Weekend Update" co-anchor Amy Poehler, made a memorable appearance, helping Meyers transition into the role of interviewing "real" people. The pair has always had great chemistry and the high entertainment value of the ensuing conversation came as no surprise.
The first real challenge for Meyers followed as he interviewed Vice President Joseph Biden. Meyers seemed relatively at ease and questioned the politician on a few "serious" matters including expanding high speed rail transit in the U.S. Meyers seemed confident during the interview and managed to find a great balance between light hearted comedy and serious deliberation.
Musical guests A Great Big World closed out the debut show.
When compared to Jimmy Fallon's "Tonight Show" set, which debuted last week, the new set of "Late Night" appears fairly cheap and generic, lacking elaborate detail. It's a minor gripe but I can't imagine why NBC would launch a new program with such a set. Altogether, the debut episode of "Late Night with Seth Meyers" was solid. Despite a few low points, Meyers seemed far more confident than either O'Brien or Fallon in their debut shows, and the result was a fun and entertaining product that fans will have no problem tuning into after the "Tonight Show."
 


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