Sometimes politicians just aren’t that funny. That’s a lesson Seth Meyers, host of Late Night, has learned covering the campaigns from the his vantage point — comedy.
The current presidential campaign is the butt of many of his jokes these days — “so many butts, there are so many butts in this campaign,” Meyers quipped to David Greene, host of NPR’s Morning Edition.
But interviews with political guests themselves can be harder to make entertaining: “I don’t want to put that all on the politician. I’m fairly new at this as well, and certainly get the least amount of reps with a political guest,” he said.
“Some show up with a lot of prepackaged jokes; they’re going to get them out, hell or high water,” he said. Meyers also spoke about how he balances entertainment and comedy with serious talk, who was “a lot of fun” on his show, and which candidate he would most like to go day drinking with.
On his role as a comedian during campaign season
Your role, when you have a late-night talk show, is to entertain. I think second to that is to inform. … Right now the news of the day is very much dominated by this election cycle. But more than anything else, we’re trying to find a way to talk about this [in a way] that is entertaining, first and foremost.
On balancing serious talk with comedy
It’s interesting with politicians because you definitely want to balance letting them say some things that people might not know about them, while at the same time I have to realize they’re coming on to also be entertaining. They want to show another side of themselves, so it wouldn’t be fair if I came on and say to them, ‘No, I would like this whole evening to be like Meet the Press, I don’t want you to get any laughs.’ So you want to go back and forth.
On whether late-night disarms candidates
It’s different for everybody. Some show up with a lot of prepackaged jokes; they’re going to get them out, hell or high water, it doesn’t matter how much they sort of are squeezing that square peg into a round hole.
I would say that Lindsey Graham definitely had some jokes that were ready to go.
On painfully unfunny politicians
There have been a few times. … I don’t want to put that all on the politician. I’m fairly new at this as well, and certainly get the least amount of reps with a political guest. And that’s why it’s really fun when you have somebody like — I thought Bernie was a lot of fun, and I thought Ted Cruz was a lot of fun.
On candidates he would most (and least) like to go day drinking with
I think I’d like to go day drinking in New York City with Donald Trump. I feel like we’d get into all the best places. I think at some point, we’d have a few and he’d suggest something fun — like we should go up in a helicopter, and it would sound awesome.
Least want to go day drinking with Martin O’Malley. I tend to get a little jealous when I drink, and he’s just so cut, he’s just like a very handsome man. … I think I would just surly ’cause I feel like we’d go out and I feel like he’d get all the attention from the ladies.