006: Late Night: Divine Comedy with Seth Meyers

006: Late Night: Divine Comedy with Seth Meyers

Conversations On the Green

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Once a safe, somnambulant replacement for counting-sheep, late night comedy has metastasized into a crucible for American angst - a cutting, ruthless, running commentary on the nation’s polarized political life. The shift is largely credited to – or blamed on – Jon Stewart, who transformed “The Daily Show” into political satire that amalgamated silliness and substance in exposing the hypocrisy of elected officials and critiquing the superficiality of TV news. He put, one wag noted, the politics into political humor. President Trump’s penchant for norm breaking has given comedians a wellspring of material and has been a fountainhead of national despair. That’s elevated late night hosts into the conscience of a nation – but it also has posed a challenge: how to mock solemn events without making light of them. "'Late Night With Seth Meyers,' which soon will celebrate its sixth anniversary, does this distinctively and brilliantly, by folding barbed one-liners into more shapely structures,” Frank Bruni, The New York Times’ columnist wrote earlier this year in a profile of the host of the eponymously name show. Now Meyers, one the more acerbic of the growing gaggle of late-night comedians, will discuss how he navigates the nightly conundrum between comedy and tragedy as the headliner of the not-so-late night Conversations On the Green, “Late Night: The Divine Comedy.” Meyers will talk about the trials and tribulations of creating a nightly show tied so tightly to daily disaster and the existential fear it provokes. In an informal, interactive conversation moderated by Jane Whitney, the former NBC talk show host, he’ll also reminisce about his years as the head writer and Weekend Update host at “Saturday Night Live” as well as stories of his climb up the comedy ladder and his personal life as a celebrity, husband and father. The 45-year-old comedian was born in Evanston, IL, but raised in Michigan and New Hampshire. He got his start in comedy while attending Northwestern University, where he ran a hot dog stand and joined an improv troupe. Meyers became a SNL cast memberr in 2001 and was heralded for impersonating a host of national figures – John Kerry, Michael Caine, Anderson Cooper, Sean Penn and Prince Charles, among others – and for his recurring characters, including Zach Ricky, host of the kids' hidden camera show "Pranksters"; Nerod, the receptionist in the recurring sketch "Appalachian Emergency Room"; David Zinger, a scientist who often insults his fellow workers; Dan Needler, half of a married couple "that should be divorced," (opposite Amy Poehler); and William Fitzpatrick, from the Irish talk show "Top o' the Morning."  He auditioned to co-anchor Weekend update in 2004 but was beaten out by Poehler. He stayed with the show and became its head writer when Tina Fey departed before the 2006 season. But he won his highest critical acclaim in 2008 when he wrote iconic sketches for Fey, who returned as a guest star to impersonate Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin. It was Meyers who created the famous phrase uttered by Fey's Palin, "I can see Russia from my house." He was soon in demand to host award shows. He emceed the 2010 and 2011 ESPY Awards, the 66thEmmy Awards, the 75thGolden Globe Awards and was the keynote speaker at The 2011 White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner, where his timing provoked retrospective snickers after he joked about Osama bin Laden hosting a CSPAN show even as that the secret operation to kill the terrorist leader was underway. Some have suggested Meyers is partly responsible for provoking Donald Trump to run for president as the comedian, along with President Barack Obama, roasted the real estate developer, who sat stone-faced in the audience, with jokes like, “Donald Trump has been saying that he will run for president as a Republican, which is surprising, since I just assumed he was running as a joke.”
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Once a safe, somnambulant replacement for counting-sheep, late night comedy has metastasized into a crucible for American angst - a cutting, ruthless, running commentary on the nation’s polarized political life. The shift is largely credited to – or blamed on – Jon Stewart, who transformed “The Daily Show” into political satire that amalgamated silliness and substance in exposing the hypocrisy of elected officials and critiquing the superficiality of TV news. He put, one wag noted, the politics into political humor. President Trump’s penchant for norm breaking has given comedians a wellspring of material and has been a fountainhead of national despair. That’s elevated late night hosts into the conscience of a nation – but it also has posed a challenge: how to mock solemn events without making light of them. "'Late Night With Seth Meyers,' which soon will celebrate its sixth anniversary, does this distinctively and brilliantly, by folding barbed one-liners into more shapely structures,” Frank Bruni, The New York Times’ columnist wrote earlier this year in a profile of the host of the eponymously name show. Now Meyers, one the more acerbic of the growing gaggle of late-night comedians, will discuss how he navigates the nightly conundrum between comedy and tragedy as the headliner of the not-so-late night Conversations On the Green, “Late Night: The Divine Comedy.” Meyers will talk about the trials and tribulations of creating a nightly show tied so tightly to daily disaster and the existential fear it provokes. In an informal, interactive conversation moderated by Jane Whitney, the former NBC talk show host, he’ll also reminisce about his years as the head writer and Weekend Update host at “Saturday Night Live” as well as stories of his climb up the comedy ladder and his personal life as a celebrity, husband and father. The 45-year-old comedian was born in Evanston, IL, but raised in Michigan and New Hampshire. He got his start in comedy while attending Northwestern University, where he ran a hot dog stand and joined an improv troupe. Meyers became a SNL cast memberr in 2001 and was heralded for impersonating a host of national figures – John Kerry, Michael Caine, Anderson Cooper, Sean Penn and Prince Charles, among others – and for his recurring characters, including Zach Ricky, host of the kids' hidden camera show "Pranksters"; Nerod, the receptionist in the recurring sketch "Appalachian Emergency Room"; David Zinger, a scientist who often insults his fellow workers; Dan Needler, half of a married couple "that should be divorced," (opposite Amy Poehler); and William Fitzpatrick, from the Irish talk show "Top o' the Morning."  He auditioned to co-anchor Weekend update in 2004 but was beaten out by Poehler. He stayed with the show and became its head writer when Tina Fey departed before the 2006 season. But he won his highest critical acclaim in 2008 when he wrote iconic sketches for Fey, who returned as a guest star to impersonate Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin. It was Meyers who created the famous phrase uttered by Fey's Palin, "I can see Russia from my house." He was soon in demand to host award shows. He emceed the 2010 and 2011 ESPY Awards, the 66thEmmy Awards, the 75thGolden Globe Awards and was the keynote speaker at The 2011 White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner, where his timing provoked retrospective snickers after he joked about Osama bin Laden hosting a CSPAN show even as that the secret operation to kill the terrorist leader was underway. Some have suggested Meyers is partly responsible for provoking Donald Trump to run for president as the comedian, along with President Barack Obama, roasted the real estate developer, who sat stone-faced in the audience, with jokes like, “Donald Trump has been saying that he will run for president as a Republican, which is surprising, since I just assumed he was running as a joke.”
...Read More