Seth Meyers is now officially out from the SNL “Weekend Update” anchor’s chair and behind the Late Night desk, filling the hosting shoes of Jimmy Fallon. Meyers had his first show on Monday, with Amy Poehler and Vice President Joe Biden as his guests. Meyers started the night by borrowing Fallon’s “Thank you note” skit, writing one to Fallon. Meyers thanked his predecessor for moving on to 11:30 p.m. so Meyers could take over at 12:30 a.m., and promised to only do “do completely original comedy pieces … starting now.”
He’s swapped desks and sets, but the SNL veteran still had the inflection of “Weekend Update” in his voice as he delivered jokes about current events. Lines from his monologue could have easily fit into his fake newscasts, like his report on a recent legislative development from Georgia. “A bill passed through the Georgia State Legislature that would allow people to carry firearms into churches, because I believe it was Jesus who said, ‘Everybody down on the floor, put your wallets in this bag.’” Meyers also unveiled a new bit called “Venn Diagrams,” in which he finds the common ground between two items. Last night’s rendition concluded that the shared space between ”people who wear fedoras” and ”people who are cool” was Indiana Jones.
Other bits of Meyers’ SNL past were sprinkled throughout the show. Fred Armisen is the show’s band leader, several SNL producers (including Lorne Michaels) are filling that role for Late Night, and Poehler was the show’s first guest. Poehler’s presence allowed Meyers to comfortably slip into an easy interview with his former colleague. With amusing, fast-paced conversation, Poehler was a great first guest – a role she was happy to have for the show.
Poehler was joined by a man she calls a ”gorgeous charm monster” in Biden. Both Poehler and Biden added to the comedic atmosphere of the evening, with their own quips and one-liners. Poehler “waved the white flag” in her prank war with George Clooney: ”I want to say something to George Clooney that no woman has ever said, ‘George, please stop.’” When asked about 2016 by Meyers, Biden said: “I was planning on making a major announcement, but I decided tonight’s your night. So I’m hoping you’ll invite me back.” Poehler, on the other hand, will be running for president.
The new Late Night host posted strong viewership for his debut, TV by the Numbers reports. Nielsen said that Monday night’s broadcast was the most-watched Monday episode in nine years, and it pulled a rating of 2.6. Reviewers of the show seemed most concerned with how Meyers will find his footing in a late night field crowded with defined personalities.
Entertainment Weekly‘s review noted that Meyers will have to differentiate himself from Fallon. It ultimately decided the show was a “work in progress” but it did indeed feel like progress. USA Today said that a few jittery signs – like the permanently plastered grin on Meyers’s face — did not detract from the low-key, mostly faultless show. With time, it is expected the host will settle into his new role, and as the process becomes more familiar, Meyers will smooth out the kinks. Time reminded readers that the first show does not dictate what it will become, predicting that it will be more of a talk show than Fallon’s format.