'Late Night' host Seth Meyers talks Michigan roots, dad jokes before Detroit benefit show – Detroit Free Press

'Late Night' host Seth Meyers talks Michigan roots, dad jokes before Detroit benefit show – Detroit Free Press

It’s settled. From here on out, Seth Meyers will be an honorary Michigander, and not just because he’s coming Friday to Detroit to host Forgotten Harvest‘s 29th annual comedy benefit show.
The host of NBC’s “Late Night” says it was “a really easy ask to say yes to” when Forgotten Harvest approached him about headlining the event, which he also did in 2017. 
“For one, Detroit is always a really cool city to come and do stand-up in. There are great comedy audiences,” says the Emmy-winning former head writer and “Weekend Update” anchor for “Saturday Night Live.”
“And then to get to come for a great charitable organization that addresses things that are so important now — more than ever, I think — such as food insecurity. They’re a special group of people based on my last interaction with them. Yeah, it was a no-brainer.”
Proceeds from the event will help Forgotten Harvest in its mission to fight hunger by collecting food that otherwise would go to waste and delivering it to emergency food providers throughout metro Detroit. The nonprofit group also grows fresh food for families in need through Forgotten Harvest Farms.
In addition to his “Late Night” duties, Meyers is part of some of the hippest projects in comedy as executive producer of Peacock’s “The Amber Ruffin Show” and critical-hit sitcom “A.P. Bio.” He filled the same role (and was a voice actor) for Hulu’s animated superhero show “The Awesomes.” Meyers also partnered with “SNL” alums Fred Armisen and Bill Hader on IFC’s “Documentary Now!,” the series that created loving parodies of landmark docs like “Grey Gardens” and “Stop Making Sense.”
But back to his Michigander status. Did you know Meyers spent a good chunk of his childhood growing up not far from Michigan State University, where his mom went to graduate school? He spoke this week to the Free Press about his state spirit, why he enjoys doing stand-up comedy and which character he identifies with in his new children’s book. The interview has been edited for clarity and length.
QUESTION: First and foremost, you spent five or six years of your childhood in Okemos, Michigan, and went to elementary school here …
ANSWER: …Edgewood.
Q: Edgewood Elementary. Do you have any specific memories from that time?
A: The thing I remember most about Edgewood is we used to have these machines in the hallway and you would put in 50 cents … and you would get two pencils. The pencils were NFL pencils. But this is before there were any licensing deals, so it was only the colors of the (football) team and the team’s name along the pencil.
And if you look at the pencils in my desk on “Late Night,” those are the pencils. I found them on eBay because I had such fond memories of the pencils that were in the hallway at Edgewood Elementary.
And a few years ago, I did an event at Michigan State and drove by my old house and I drove by Edgewood. My takeaway — I had not been in either place in over 30 years —(was that) everything was a lot smaller than I remember.
Q: We know your feelings about New Hampshire (where the Meyers family moved after living in Michigan). But can we claim you as an honorary Michigander?
A: I would love to be claimed as an honorary Michigander. I’ve been to both peninsulas, which I feel like is very important. I learned to ski at Boyne Mountain, I want to say? Is Boyne Mountain still there? Yep. Now I’m skiing a mountain very similar to Boyne in Connecticut with my kids. I went to games at the old Tiger Stadium. I saw football in the Silverdome. So I think I’ve ticked off quite a few boxes. 
Q: How is stand-up comedy Seth different from late-night host Seth. What can the audience expect on Friday?
A: So much of the TV show is chasing the day’s news and trying to churn out as quickly as we can our reaction to current events. Stand-up is a chance for me to slow down, fine-tune material. It’s a lot more about my family life. It’s a lot more about being a parent, as opposed to being caught up in the daily churn of politics. … It is very nice to be not talking about everything that happened in the world. It makes for a more optimistic, uplifting evening.
Q: Your new children’s book, “I’m Not Scared, You’re Scared,” is about dealing with fear as a child. Are you more like the book’s catastrophizing bear or the carefree rabbit?
A: I am the worst-case scenario bear, sadly. The good news is I am married to a rabbit. And I feel like, raising kids, it’s very helpful to have one of each. If your parents can’t cover both those bases, that’s not great.
Q: I’ve been watching your friendly rivalry with “Tonight Show” host Jimmy Fallon and his book “Nana Loves You More.” How are the plans going to crush him and his book?
A: Well, you know, we’ll see. We’re talking on Wednesday, and I can tell you as a best-selling author, you find out at 7 p.m. on Wednesday if you’re still on the best-selling list. By the time you go to print, I might be off the list. Hopefully, that won’t change people’s minds about coming to check me out. You only have to be on it one week to be called a best-selling author for the rest of your life. I checked with them. (Meyers’ book actually rose from ninth to seventh place on the updated New York Times best-selling children’s picture books list).
I’m very hopeful because there were a lot of Easter books on the list. And I think this is going to be a very bad week for them, unless they were severely discounted. On Saturday when I get back, I’m doing my first in-person reading, which obviously has been a little hamstrung by the pandemic. I think when I always dreamed about writing a kids book, there would have been more of that. So I’m really looking forward to doing one.
Q: The kids could be your best and toughest critics.
A: My kids are definitely my toughest critics.
Q: You’re a father of three. Do your kids enjoy your dad jokes?
A: Well, I had a really heartbreaking thing happen the other day, which is I went to my son’s school. They invited parents to come in the morning, and the first thing they do in their school is called “choice time,” where they choose what they want to play with. And a kid threw up. I said to another dad, “‘Well, I guess that was his choice.’ And then my son, in the most patronizing way possible, looked at me and went, “Oh, good joke, Dad!” And I was like: “Don’t. How dare you.” I think they like it more when I’m silly than when I’m clever. They’re not at the age where they have any appreciation of cleverness.
Q: You were a self-declared fan of Comedy Central’s “Detroiters.” You even wrote an opinion piece about how sad you were going to be when it was canceled …
A: …100%.
Q: Do you have any hope of revival, just as a fan?
A: You always hold that hope in this day and age that things that go away might come back again. The good news is it’s not like Sam (Richardson) and Tim (Robinson) over the years are going to become less from Detroit, so we have that going for us. I think the one upside to that show not being on the air is how busy both of them have stayed, because they are both such special performers.
Q: Yes, Tim Robinson has been filming here for a show about an uncle and nephew who go to computer school together.
A: Oh, that’s right. I can tell you I’ve read the pilot for that project and it’s wonderful. Detroit, you’re in for another treat, courtesy of Tim Robinson and his writing partner Zach Kanin.
Q: I enjoy your online “Corrections,” where you address mistakes pointed out and nitpicked by viewers. Would you ever want to do an on-air episode of “Corrections”?
A: I think I’d rather just stretch it out, the online version. But I am in talks with the streaming service Peacock to do our 50th episode of “Corrections” as a spectacular because we just feel like it’ll draw a lot of eyeballs to the streamer.
Q: To wrap up, are you looking forward to doing your “A Closer Look” segments on “Late Night” through the 2024 presidential election process, or are you filled with existential dread?
A: I think maybe a little bit of the latter. But I think the important thing is whether I had “A Closer Look” or not, I would feel that existential dread. And having “A Closer Look” does provide me some catharsis. I’d rather go through it this way, since either way, I’m going to have to go through it, as we all are.
Contact Detroit Free Press pop culture critic Julie Hinds at [email protected]
Forgotten Harvest’s 29th annual Comedy Night 
8 p.m. Friday
Fox Theatre
2211 Woodward, Detroit
$35-$175 through Ticketmaster
Recommended for ages 18 and older
For more on the event, sponsor packages and the online auction, go to ForgottenHarvest.org.

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