The Problem With Late Night With Seth Meyers: Trying to Be an Every Man

There is a bit in Late Night with Seth Meyers where Meyers playfully banters with Fred Armisen, the show's bandleader, and questions him about absurd statements he has made -- Armisen claims to have discovered a new parakeet species, founded his own college, and saved a life. It is easily the best part of the whole show and is reminiscent of a past Meyers routine that worked very well -- his banter with Bill Hader's character Stefon on SNL's Weekend Update segment.

Recently when Hader was a guest on Late Night he talked about why he would crack up when he played Stefon. Hader says he loves when people are patient with obnoxious people, i.e. Meyers was patient with the ridiculous Stefon. It is the same dynamic with Armisen. It's true that Meyers is patient but one thing that he's not, and that people keep calling him, is "nice." One could easily read both scenarios as Meyers letting the fool go on longer for all our benefit. Meyers is smart, while the guest is dumb.

Meyers was great on Weekend Update not because he is some nice guy you wanted to necessarily hang out with but because he was cynical and found cheeky ways to make fun of society. Unlike the dynamic between Jimmy Fallon and Tina Fey which was centered around Fallon being overwhelmed and deferential to Fey, Meyers' relationship with Amy Pohler on Weekend Update was much more even keel and they were best when they tag-teamed to point out how ludicrous things were. Think about their best bit together, "Really?!? With Seth and Amy." Meyers comes off as the cool and smart kid in your history lecture who could even make the professor feel stupid at times. That's why his whole smiley and perhaps overly friendly demeanor during interviews comes off as, quite frankly, fake.

Meyers grew up in New Hampshire. His mother was a middle school French teacher and his father worked in finance. His interest in improvisation was sparked when he was a student at Northwestern University. He is not the first, what some would call, privileged person to be a host on Late Night. Conan O'Brien's father was a professor of medicine at Harvard University before O'Brien went on to be a student there himself. But O'Brien never tried to play a kind of universal friendly and average guy. How could he? He's a 6'4" red head who looks like a flailing noodle. But just because Seth Meyers is a generally-handsome-in-an-average-kind-of-way guy doesn't mean he should be playing someone who is incredibly relatable because well, he isn't.

One of the most problematic segments on the show, which has actually gotten a bit better since Meyers has broken his nose, is called "Seth's Story." For two to five minutes, Meyers sits uncomfortably behind his desk tells us anecdotes from his life. Oftentimes they're stories about when Meyers was embarrassed. One example is a time that a mother made Meyers takes pictures with her son who was actually a grown man, and the man seemed not too interested in Meyers. There is merit to this whole "celebs are just like us, they can get embarrassed too" vibe, but ultimately he's just not too much like us. However, there have been some successful Seth stories including one where he makes fun of a man running in flip flops in an airport. Again -- Seth the smart aleck is actually funny. Meyers isn't the sweet guy next door, he's the smart guy in your history lecture that you knew would be successful. He's smart and cunning and that's why he is where he is.

Perhaps over time, once Meyers gets more comfortable, he will let his feisty side shine. Meyers doesn't have to be a friendly middle class dude to be a good host - he just has to seem sincere. There is something off putting about him constantly interviewing past SNL cast members and reliving the glory days of when he was head honcho there. The celebration of the great NBC family continues with Meyers' seemingly intense friendship with Brian and Allison Williams. Enough of all this lovey-dovey stuff. I mean.. really?!? Seth Meyers show us the snark that got you here in the first place.