It’s been three years since Seth Meyers left the grind of Saturday Night Live, but recently his job as host of Late Night with Seth Meyers is starting to feel like it where the President of the United States is concerned.
Late Night episodes begin taping around 6:30 p.m. And for the last few weeks, huge developments in the investigation into the Trump campaign/administration’s ties to Russia, and Russian interference in the 2016 election, have broken around 5:30 p.m. And since Late Night has carved out a niche as a place to immediately react to the big news of the day, Meyers and his team have no choice but to respond instantly to this latest Trump O’Clock development, and quickly, so that that night’s monologue, or “A Closer Look” segment, or even some interviews, don’t feel outdated before they even air. Some days, they’ve gotten lucky, like having Senator Ben Sasse scheduled as a guest on the night POTUS fired FBI Director James Comey, while on many others, they’ve had to scramble to even try keeping up.
Late Night was off on Friday while Meyers traveled to Los Angeles for a day of interviews, but I got on the phone with him shortly after Trump O’Clock arrived early with a pair of big stories in the New York Times and Washington Post.
You’ve been doing press all day; are you even aware of the two new stories that broke in the last hour?
I saw the Trump quote about Comey. What was it? “Nuts?” Or “He was a nut bag?”
“Nut job,” that’s great. Very happy about that.
And then The Washington Post put out a story saying that a current member of the administration — who a lot of people are assuming is Jared Kushner — is a person of interest in the Russian investigation.
Oh my God.
I think he two stories published within a minute of each other.
All right, so here’s my question to you. Make a predication: Will either those be a big enough story for us to even mention them on Monday? Or will the cycle move so fast that both of those will go completely unmentioned on Late Night With Seth Meyers.
I don’t know. But do you wish you were doing a show today?
I don’t, only because we have yet to have a show [recently] where there hasn’t been something else to cover. I would feel that way if we just finished up a month of shows where it had been dry land and we hadn’t managed to find a single thing to talk about. I don’t know if confidence is the right word, because that seems too positive, but I don’t doubt that, if it’s not that, it will be something else come Monday.
What has it been like like having these news stories break after the show is largely written and you’re getting ready to go and trying to edit things?
On the one side, it’s really exciting. It feels like the SNL days of you have this time that you’re gonna start and something happens late and you want to make sure that you get at least a mention of it into the show. I feel really proud of our staff in the way that they’ve learned to deal with it. A writer can come up with a joke in a split second, but production is up against the physical realities of time, so they can only get faster. So be it cue cards or be it the researchers or be it the people who build graphics, they’re so much faster than they were two years ago, and we’re really lucky for it, because we wouldn’t be able to do what we do if it wasn’t for their improvement.