As we mentioned yesterday, Saturday Night Live's Weekend Update Thursday premieres tonight on NBC. For the second year in a row, the Weekend Update format will air for a half-hour on Thursday nights. SNL head writer and Weekend Update anchor Seth Meyers was nice enough to speak with us about what we can expect from the both versions of SNL this season, and what it's like working on the show. (By the way, we asked, and his favorite Weekend Update anchor is Norm MacDonald.)
So what's the deal with Weekend Update Thursday?
Meyers: "We're planning the Thursday shows for these first three weeks, starting [tonight, September 17]. Then the plan is to come back and do three more starting in January." Of those six episodes, Meyers confirmed that Amy Poehler, who left the cast of last year to star on Parks and Recreation, will be back behind the desk for the first two.
Is it better working alone or with a partner?
Meyers: "It's different. For me, Amy is not just one of my comedy heroes, but she's also one of my best friends, so it's obviously harder without her. But doing it alone also has its benefits. When you do it alone, if you feel like you screw up a joke, it's better to just tell another joke than have to sit there."
How much long-term planning goes into to the show? Who's lined up to guest-star so far?
Meyers: "'Planning' is often a word we get asked about at SNL, that does not apply to us as I think it does to other shows with longer lead times. We try to grab people when we can. Certainly we weren't planning on having [Tina Fey] come in last year, until there was a person who looked a lot like her, and when Will Ferrell came back for George Bush, it made sense. But the longer the show's on the air, the more people there are who have historically played political figures and celebrities, and we have the ability to bring them in. And we've found when the show is having a good season, it's easy to get people to come back."
Is anything written yet for next week?
Meyers: "The show does best when the stuff is generated that week. The nice thing about next week is that we overlap the process with Thursday and Saturday. But we're very excited about the fact that it's Megan Fox and U2 [on the premiere]."
Doing two shows a week must be a hell of a workload...
Meyers: "It is more work, absolutely. But the fun part of work is getting to see it onscreen, and so the upside is there's also more show. With a lot of talented people here, the issue is, more often than not, just finding the space to get it on. So we're excited to have more space."
In light of the recent casting changes, what's it like to be a rookie on the show?
One of the biggest news stories surrounding the premiere of SNL's new season is the letting go of Casey Wilson and Michaela Watkins, and the addition of Nasim Pedrad and Jenny Slate. When we asked Meyers to talk about what it's like to be a rookie on the show, he told us, "I wouldn't say it's less stressful being a veteran, but there are different things to stress about. At least now I feel like I belong here, whereas my rookie year I don't know if I felt that way, ever."
What ever will you cover on Weekend Update Thursday without an election to poke fun at?
Meyers: "It not like politics went into hibernation. If possible, the behavior is actually more cartoonish now than it was before the election."
And finally, how do you feel about college football?
Of course we asked Meyers about college football, the best thing ever. He let us know that tomorrow night he will be doing a stand-up appearance at his alma mater, Northwestern University, home of 2-0 team. "I never thought I'd be doing a stand-up gig for the undefeated Northwestern Wildcats," he said.
Weekend Update Thursday premieres Thursday Sept. 17 at 9:30/8:30c on NBC