When Seth Meyers is asked if he and Jimmy Fallon will cross-promote each other’s new shows in February when Fallon moves to “The Tonight Show” and Meyers takes over “Late Night” from his former “Saturday Night Live” buddy, Meyers jokes, “I don’t know if he’ll have time to come to mine but I can try to stop by his . . . every day.”
But before the New Hampshire-bred Meyers slides behind his new desk at “Late Night” on Feb. 24, he has to finish up work behind his current one as the co-anchor of “Weekend Update” and head writer for “Saturday Night Live.” (The busy writer-actor-comic is also crafting the recently ordered second season of his comic animated superhero series for Hulu, “The Awesomes” — for which he writes, produces, and voices the main character.)
Meyers looked ready to take it all on when we chatted during his recent visit to the Boston NBC affiliate WHDH-TV (Channel 7) before his stand-up gig at the Wilbur Theatre.
Q. How far along are you in the conceptualization process for “Late Night”?
A. We’re really not much past staffing, which is obviously so much of what the show is going to end up being. We’re doing a lot of interviews right now for writing staff, trying to hire a lot of smart, funny people. This is such a volume game. Unlike “SNL,” you have to fill so many more minutes and we’re going to try to get a bunch of people together who have the understanding that you can’t be precious about ideas, because we’re going to need a hundred ideas before Feb. 24 and we’ll do them all once. And if we’re lucky, five of the first hundred ideas we have will come back a second time and then we’ll have to start over again.
‘What I . . . worried I was going to miss was leaving a place where . . . you could try whatever crazy idea you wan-ted. But I’m happi-ly going to a place where I think that will remain true.’
Q. But you’re used to that type of cutthroat-ness, to a degree, from working on “SNL”, right?
A. Yes. Absolutely. I’m not used to the cutthroat-ness of being the only person having to deliver these ideas to America. (Laughs.) But I think I’ll get used to that.
Q. Will there be a big send-off? Will you cry? Will you dance?
A. I don’t know. I’m definitely going to cry. I think when the history books are written the best send-off I’ll ever be a part of is Stefon’s. It’s very hard to imagine topping that. Maybe they’ll just show a highlight reel of that.
Q. You must be starting the internal highlight reel yourself. Are there characters you’ll miss on “Update”?
A. What I always worried I was going to miss was leaving a place where every single week you could try whatever crazy idea you wanted. But I’m happily going to a place where I think that will remain true. What I’ll miss the most is, every week you have this incredible group of performers who say what you wrote for them. That’s the best part. And the longer you’re there, the more you get to know them and the more that who they are inspires you to write sketches.
Q. Do you know if after you leave Cecily [Strong] will handle “Update” alone or will it be a two-hander?
A. That’s [“SNL” executive producer] Lorne [Michaels]’s call.
Q. Do you have an opinion?
A. I will say, doing two again, for me personally is such a thrill. I will say I’m a little jealous of how fast Cecily is learning.
Q. Of course, we’re sad this means the end of her character “The Girl You Wish You Hadn’t Started a Conversation With at a Party.”
A. Absolutely. I think she’ll show up somewhere else. I think if you go out with Cecily and have a couple of drinks she might show up. (Laughs.)
Q. Of course casting is not your decision, but what do you think of Kenan Thompson recently saying that “SNL” hasn’t been able to find women of color for the show in part because there aren’t enough viable candidates who are “ready”?
A. I think Kenan’s quote has been taken out of context a little bit. I think the casting process at “SNL” has always tried to find the funniest, most talented, and most diverse people they can.
Q. I think that can be difficult to understand when there are six new cast members and they’re all white. It’s like, “Really?”
A. I can appreciate that people care a lot about the show and I think people are completely entitled to feel like, as far as diversity right now, it’s not completely satisfying to them, but I assure everybody that it’s a thing this show cares very deeply about.
Q. You’ve talked about having Amy Poehler as your first guest for “Late Night,” and hopefully Tom Cruise as your second. So what’s the scoop on that all-important third guest?
A. Well, I think if you have Poehler and Cruise you might not need the third guest! It’s really great that I have my first guest lined up, but it is so funny, it is this weird thing now. I’m very aware that we’ll do this first episode of the show and everybody will be like “Here’s what I noticed in the first night.” And we’re going to try and do this hundreds of times. (Laughs.)
So that third guest is probably the really important one that we should be worried about!