Stand-up comedy is a beast all its own. Improv and sketch comedy might work in a similar vein, but stand-up requires its own, unique set of skills that can only be mastered by doing it over and over and over again. Think about how many stand-up comics have made the move into acting, writing, late night talk show hosting, radio, etc. There are plenty. Now think about how many people in those other fields have moved into stand-up. It’s not that many.
This was what interested me in Seth Meyer’s performance at the Mirage this past Saturday for their Aces Of Comedy show. How would Meyers, an improv and sketch actor dating back to his college days, handle straight stand-up? The answer: surprisingly well.
Of course, being the Weekend Update anchor on Saturday Night Live for the past few years has trained Meyers in the art of joke writing and delivery, but now we’re talking microphone, performer, audience.
Not surprisingly, his political jokes were some of the high points of the show (“What did [Schwarzenegger] see in [Mildred Baena]?” “Proximity”) and his takes on relationships were equally as insightful. (“When a woman asks, ‘What are you doing’, your answer is never going to be as important as what she is about to ask you to do.”)
Meyers hasn’t been doing stand-up nearly as long as some of the major headliners I’ve seen, but he had more energy, and his crowd had more fun playing along with him. His ability to bounce between big, national subjects and everyday stuff is a credit to him. Not many comics can do it.
Some of the best bits of the night were Weekend Update jokes that didn’t make it past the censors. (“A new study shows that college freshmen gain seven pounds from drinking so much beer and not doing as much physical activity. So that means the rest of your freshman fifteen is probably a baby.” “A missing Brazilian boy was found near the rainforest this week. Unfortunately
he was found by tigers.”)
Meyers performed for an hour, but even he admitted that not all of his jokes were crushers. He probably could cut have cut 10 minutes and had 50 minutes of bulletproof material, but as a headliner, he’s expected to do his hour. Nonetheless, if this is where Meyers’ career is going post SNL, he has all the tools to be an exciting headliner.
Jason Harris is a local stand-up comedian.