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INTERVIEW: Seth Meyers on the comedic life

From doing improv comedy in college to working as co-head writer of Saturday Night Live, Seth Meyers has become a comedy icon. In addition to the wide recognition he has earned through his SNL career, many students know him for his hilarious stand-up performances at colleges across the country. Boston University students got a special treat Friday when the New England native and his fellow SNL co-head writer Colin Jost brought their comedy to Metcalf Ballroom. Meyers’ hour-and-a-half of stand-up started off student’s weekends with some humor.

His topics ranged from drunk college hookups to awkward bar fights. One story involved a trip he took to Las Vegas. On the flight to Vegas everyone acts as if they are already in Vegas, he said; people shout at one another asking for flight attendants to get them all drinks as if they are at a bar. The image warranted a huge laugh from the audience.

Meyers’ storytelling skills are commendable, especially the way he captivates his audience with hilarious facial expressions and dramatic body movements. It makes sense though — he’s been doing this for years. As a student at Northwestern University, he joined the improv sketch group “Mee-Ow,” and later joined Amsterdam-based group “Boom Chicago,”  — of which SNL writer/performer Jason Sudeikis is another notable alumnus — performing in both Chicago and Amsterdam in the late 1990s.

Shortly after returning from Amsterdam in 2001, he joined the SNL staff, and has been the show’s head writer since 2006, managing to bring his talent and personality to colleges around the country in between SNL shows. He sat down with MUSE after the show to discuss his life in comedy:

Justin Soto: I know you are a big fan of Boston sports, but what made you come to BU?

Seth Meyers: I am a big fan of Boston sports, but I go to many colleges for my shows. I perform a lot in New York as well but I hate the Yankees. I don’t make sports the indicator of where I perform but it is nice to be home. Boston is about as close as I get to home these days.

How would you say your experience working with “Hiccups and Piccups” in Amsterdam differed from your work in Chicago?

It’s interesting because in Amsterdam they don’t have the same American pop-culture so I had to find more universal themes to talk about, and I actually found that a nice way to put together building blocks of comedy, working with that audience. I got on stage a lot more than I did in Chicago. It was really competitive then. Being in Amsterdam, there weren’t a lot of American comedians. I did about 200 shows — it was great.

Having one of the longest tenures in the history of SNL, how do you think it has changed your life?

‘How hasn’t it changed my life?’ I feel is a better question. It was pretty much the first job I ever got, it wasn’t like I was doing much before I showed up on the show.  SNL has been a home now for the past 12 years. I’m going to have to eventually leave, but I can’t imagine how hard it is going to be when I do.

Do you have any future plans? Anything in mind?

SM: Nothing concrete as far as the future. I feel like with stuff in show business it is very hard to plan ahead exactly, so it is better to just take it as it comes.

Who would you say you are closest to on the SNL cast?

SM: Before this year, Andy Samberg was definitely my closest friend. Then the other guy that I have been doing it with the longest is Fred Armisen, so he has been a really good friend for a really long time.

What is your fondest memory from the show thus far?

SM: I think my favorite moment would be when I was an observer and Sarah Palin was on one side of me and Amy Poehler was on the other side of me, about 9 months pregnant while doing some crazy rap.

How would you sum up life as a celebrity in one sentence?

There are good and bad sides to it.

What advice would you give to college students who want to be in the TV industry?

I was in radio and TV in the ‘90s and it was so much harder then because there weren’t digital cameras and you couldn’t edit on your computer.  Now there is really no excuse for people not to be making either short films or things like that.  It is very hard now to get a job without being able to show someone what you have done.  Now is the time to be a maker.

How does your personal life affect your comedy? Do they ever overlap?

SM: Yeah, of course. Your personal life is where you spend most of your time, so that is where you get most of your ideas and you just try to have your antenna up. With my girlfriend, she can tell if she said something that I’m going to put in my act and she isn’t that happy about it.

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