Zooming from New York: Seth Meyers kicks off virtual parents weekend

Late talk show host and comedian Seth Meyers brought his impeccable sense of humor virtually to the W&L community


Avalon Pernell

Business Journalism Professor Alecia Swasy moderated the Zoom discussion with Seth Meyers, which was hosted by the Contact Committee and General Activites Board

Sophie Kidd

To kick off virtual parents and family weekend, comedian Seth Meyers spoke to the Washington and Lee University community about working from home, keeping up with the news cycle and his funniest college memory.

The Contact Committee and General Activities Board hosted the virtual event over Zoom, and journalism professor Alecia Swasy moderated the discussion. Cate O’Kelley, vice chair of finance for the Contact Committee, said they began discussing possible moderators before the speaker was confirmed.

“In this case, Professor Swasy’s back- ground as a journalist made her ideal to interview Seth,” she said. “Her personality and sense of humor also kept the tone of the event light and entertaining.”

Until recently, Meyers had been recording his show from his home attic. Although he told his two young children that he was working up there, they were still skeptical.

“It was like I was lying about having a job and Daddy was going up to the attic to drink a fifth of bourbon or something,” he said.

“You know, I think childcare should include bourbon and duct tape,” Swasy noted.

Like other late-night hosts, Meyers used YouTube to upload his shows each night. He said the most difficult part of working from home was not the lack of an audience, but the technology required.

“A bunch of YouTubers made videos about how terrible we were, and they were all very mean, which is fine, but one guy made a video and he said that he wished these late-night guys would just do a few things to help their videos,” he said.

So, Meyers messaged him over Twitter, and over the next four months, he became Meyers’ “YouTube whisperer.”

“Late Night with Seth Meyers” airs Monday through Thursday each week, which means Meyers has to stay on top of the news cycle.

“A decade ago, I would have to follow the news all weekend, to see what we would talk about on Monday,” he said. “The reality is, I don’t think anything will happen tomorrow that will still be news on Monday. Everything turns around so quickly, it almost gives you your weekend back.”

Meyers credits this to the unprecedented coverage of President Donald Trump.

“Don’t you ever get tired of roasting the temp at 1600 Pennsylvania?” Swasy asked.

“If I had any exhaustion, it was less about writing jokes about it than just living through it,” Meyers said. “The jokes are the catharsis for me.”

Trump is vocal about his negative feelings toward most late-night hosts, including Meyers, who he called “nasty” and “a no-talent comic” earlier this year.

Meyers said he thinks Trump finds him irritating, but Saturday Night Live genuinely hurts his feelings.

“That’s a show that he’s hosted, I think he had a sense that they would always be friendly, and when the show started making fun of him, he took it personally,” he said.

When asked about his funniest college memory, Meyers recounted a bizarre story about filling a bag with ricotta and dropping it on unsuspecting party goers below.

“Is spilling ricotta cheese on someone really his funniest college memory?” Andrew Crean, ‘22, asked. “It just seemed a little disingenuous.”

At the end of the discussion, Meyers offered the virtual audience a piece of advice: “refresh your heroes.” He cited comedian John Mulaney as an example of someone he has learned more from than taught.

Before signing off, Meyers gave a quick shout out to Swasy’s 99-year-old mother who was watching from home in Pennsylvania.