Seth Meyers is taking his shtick to the White House. Really.Get ready, folks: Funnyman Seth Meyers is tackling a new role. That’s right, the Saturday Night Live star — now in his 10th season with the NBC show — has been tapped to host one of the hardest gigs in the business: the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner. On April 30, he’ll take to a new stage before politicos and press alike. Will he bring the laughs? You’ll have to tune in to find out.
American Way: Successfully hosting the White House Correspondents’ Dinner isn’t easy. Do you have any reservations about signing on?
Seth Meyers: Like all comedians, one of my life’s goals has been to appear on C-SPAN. Now that it’s happening, obviously there are some nerves. I’m incredibly honored to be asked. The WHCD strikes me as an incredibly American undertaking. The idea that you can tell jokes about the president in his presence is a really good reminder we’re not in Iran. Another good reminder: time zone.
SM: I’ve certainly seen highlights of past performances. I’ve never been invited before, so I’ll probably spend most of my time complaining about that and bragging about how, this year, my seat is so much better than everyone else’s.
AW: You’ve been described as a “very smart, very sharp and very funny observer of the political scene.” What are your observation tactics?
SM: First of all, thank you for going to my mother for a quote. I read papers online and follow a lot of reporters on Twitter, so they keep me updated during the day. As far as the creative process goes, I’ll use the same process we use for “[Weekend] Update.” A lot of funny people will sit around, and when there’s a joke everyone laughs at, we’ll know we have a winner.
AW: President Obama brought a lot of laughs last year. Are you worried about being upstaged?
SM: I will make it very clear to the president that should he upstage me at my job, I will have no choice but to upstage him at his by unveiling my can’t-fail economic recovery plan.
AW: How — if at all — is this different than hosting the ESPYs?
SM: Here’s the difference: At the ESPYs, everyone could beat me up. At the WHCD, I’m most afraid of Nancy Pelosi and Michele Bachmann.
AW: Any chance your famous “really” bit might make an appearance?
SM: “Really” depends on someone doing something that invokes a response of incredulity. So, as long as no politician from now until April 30 does anything stupid, they’re in the clear.
As the White House Correspondents’ Dinner has evolved over the years, it’s become a sort of roast of the president (all in good fun, of course). Past hosts/entertainers for the WHCD dinner include:
- Anna Fialho
Did You Know
- Seth Meyers won Bravo’s Celebrity Poker Showdown in 2004 and donated his winnings ($100,000) to Boston’s Jimmy Fund, which specializes in cancer treatments.
- Comedy runs in the family: Meyers’ brother, Josh, starred on MADtv, which aired at the same time as SNL (sibling rivalry?) on Fox.
- Meyers is no stranger to the podium. He’s hosted the Webby Awards twice, and last year he hosted the ESPY Awards. He’s on tap to reprise the ESPY gig again this year.
- In addition to being the “Weekend Update” anchor, Meyers is also the head writer for SNL.
2010 — Jay Leno, following his controversial return to (and ousting of Conan O’Brien from) The Tonight Show. He was widely criticized for the jokes he told, many of which had been heard before.
2009 — Wanda Sykes, who was the first African-American woman as well as the first openly gay person to host (Cedric the Entertainer was the first African-American to host in 2005). She pulled no punches, the most memorable of which were directed at talk-show hosts Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, and Sarah Palin.
2008 — Craig Ferguson was another late-night television host who was tapped as the evening’s entertainment (he was asked less than a week after becoming an American citizen). While he delivered a few barbs at Dick Cheney and poked fun at the rivalry between Keith Olbermann and Bill O’Reilly, his main jabs were for the media, including The New York Times, who sat that year’s dinner out. He was also one of the most good-natured hosts.