If you can imagine a hybrid of Saturday Night Live‘s “Weekend Update” with a traditional weekday late-night show, then you have a pretty good idea what to expect from the first half-hour of the first Late Night With Seth Meyers on NBC. The former SNL star came to his debut show armed with lots of topical jokes following an opening that showed him writing a Thank You note to his predecessor, Jimmy Fallon, vowing to treat Late Night “with respect and dignity and to only use it for original comedy pieces … starting now.” Later he said that he’s going to “shake stuff up and open this thing with a monologue,” in which he poked fun at the Olympics and Toronto Mayor Rob Ford and riffed on odds and ends from the news including a 101-year-old man running for Congress. (He “has a good chance of appealing to younger voters because that’s all there is.”) Meyers’ former SNL colleague Fred Armisen does double duty as a leader of the 8G Band and comic sidekick.
The program has several similarities with Fallon’s new Tonight Show, in addition to the fact that both are based in New York. There’s lots of wood in the new set that, with its simple, blue-hued panels, seemed to have been been ordered from Ikea. Also, like Fallon, Meyers kicked off his show without irony thanking Fallon, his parents, his brother, and his wife. He introduced a routine called “Venn Diagrams” in which Meyers finds common ground in two seemingly unrelated subjects. For example, snow and toilet paper are “things you won’t find in Sochi,” and Russia and the NBA are both “places that are more gay-friendly than Arizona.” Meyers loaded up on Olympics gags, including a bit poking fun at Bob Costas’ bout of pink eye.
The first guest, Amy Poehler, helped her former SNL colleague by coming prepared with material, including an apology to George Clooney after she and Tina Fey delivered jokes at his expense at the Golden Globes. “He’s a master prankster, and I want to say something that no woman has said to him: ‘George, please stop.’” Poehler also disclosed that Broad City, a show that she produces for Comedy Central has been picked up for a second season. Vice President Joe Biden — the hero of Poehler’s Parks And Recreation character — proved to be an amiable second guest. “I was going to make a major announcement tonight,” he said teasing the audience as he turned to Meyers, “but I decided tonight’s your night.” The show ended on a somnolent note with pop duo A Great Big World singing its ballad, “Say Something.” Here’s a clip of Biden’s appearance: