Seth Meyers has gotten to the “Viking raid” portion of his run as host of Late Night: He’s 100 episodes in, and there’s a new crew helming the Weekend Update desk on Saturday Night Live. The boats are burned behind him, and there’s nowhere to go but forward. In this case, “forward” means “to the Chelsea at the Cosmopolitan,” where the heir to David Letterman’s, Conan O’Brien’s and Jimmy Fallon’s throne still finds time to do stand-up, despite a rigorous nightly schedule in New York and work on his Hulu animated series The Awesomes.
Now that you’re seven months in, how are you feeling about Late Night?
Happy. The nicest luxury of doing a late-night show is you get to do it every night, unlike SNL where you spend a whole week and you only get to release the pressure of performing that one time. If it doesn’t go the way you wanted, you sort of obsess about it because you don’t get to perform again for another seven days. Here you get to keep churning out so many shows [that] you get better a lot faster. You have a lot more opportunities to try things and not feel as though it’s going to change the outcome of the world if you have a bad show.
How does writing for Late Night differ from writing for SNL?
The biggest difference is at SNL, certainly as the head writer, you have to keep your eye on every single part of the show. Here the biggest thing I realized is I have to be sharp and on-camera an hour every day. At SNL you’re on-camera 15 minutes a week. You didn’t even have to shave until 5 p.m. on Saturday. We just did our 100th [Late Night] show, which was my fifth year at SNL. In a weird way I feel like the comfort level I have after about six months at this job is about the same amount of real estate I covered in the first five years at SNL.
Johnny Carson famously spent a lot of time doing stand-up in Vegas, and Leno still does lots of weekends here. Yet Letterman and O’Brien never have. How important is it for someone with a late-night show to keep sharp doing stand-up?
For me, it’s important right now because I really enjoy doing it. It brings me joy. But at the same time, who knows? I’ve been married a year. We’ll have kids eventually. Maybe it’ll feel less exciting to go out for the weekend. Or maybe it’ll feel great. It’s not something that I would say [for certain] I’m going to do forever. It made a lot of sense during SNL, because ultimately you only work 22 weeks there. Here you’re working a lot more weeks, but you have weekends off.
What do you think about the new Weekend Update desk?
I’m really happy and excited for those guys. Colin [Jost] is someone I’ve been writing with for years. He’s one of the smartest guys I know. [Michael] Che is such a talent. I was really excited to watch [the season premiere]. I’m jealous when people get to start a new thing like that. It made me long for the days of working, figuring it all out.
Che was just on your show talking about how you had to ask him, “You know you got the job, right?” before he knew he was hired for SNL. What was your hiring experience like?
I went all the way back to L.A., and two days later they flew me back to New York to meet with Lorne [Michaels]. One of the things Lorne asked me was, “Do you think you could live in New York?” I remember thinking at the time, “Does anyone blow it at this stage? Do you get this far in the audition process and say, ‘No I don’t think I can handle it. Are we definitely going to shoot it here?’”
As a die-hard Red Sox fan, was it tough to watch Fenway fans fawn over Derek Jeter in his last game?
It wasn’t that hard. He’s such a good guy. When he hosted SNL my first year, I didn’t want to like him. I just remember every single person in New York has a story they want to tell Derek Jeter. The story about when they saw him do something. It’s never interesting to him. But what I really liked about him was he took the time to listen to every person. He’s a guy who deserved all the accolades he got this year. As somebody who actively rooted against him, I will miss him.
7 p.m., Oct. 11 at the Chelsea in the Cosmopolitan, $45-$75, 698-7000, CosmopolitanLasVegas.com.