Despite seeing presidential hopeful John Kerry (and thus his portrayal) get snubbed in 2004, Seth Meyers has never stopped being a major part of the mix at NBC's Saturday Night Live (Saturdays, duh, at 11:30 pm/ET). As he prepped for this weekend's show, Meyers now best known for his bits as haranguing hubby Dan Needler and the Appalachian Emergency Room receptionist, as well as for his impressions of Hugh Grant, Sean Penn and Anderson Cooper found a few minutes to talk to TVGuide.com about SNL's plans for guest host Matt Dillon, the "real" Natalie Portman and the crazy-delicious digital-shorts craze.
TVGuide.com: Seth, how are ya?!
Seth Meyers: Good. Sorry I missed you at [the original interview time]. I got called into a meeting.
TVGuide.com: No prob. From what I understand, after all, today [Tuesday] is writing day?
Meyers: Tuesday is writing day and because Matt Dillon was at the Oscars, we had to sort of roll Monday and Tuesday all into one.
TVGuide.com: Five seasons into SNL, has anything about the show become easier for you? What's harder?
Meyers: I don't think it ever gets easier. You just get more used to how hard it is. I'm never surprised at how hard it is.
TVGuide.com: Flashing back a few years, I have to ask: Was it a gut-punch when John Kerry didn't win the presidential election? Did people not realize that a vote for Bush was a vote against your airtime?
Meyers: It was really rough for me. I'm just happy that we took my home state of New Hampshire, which often goes [Republican]. My fellow New Hampshirites came through.
TVGuide.com: Do you secretly wish that Anderson Cooper would screw up more?
Meyers: [Laughs] I'm pretty happy with Anderson Cooper right now, he's staying in the news. He just needs another hurricane.
TVGuide.com: When you land a "hit" with something like "The Needlers," are you like, "Cool, at least I'll have a sketch every other week"? I love those two.
Meyers: There's a writer named Liz Cackowski whom I've known for a long time, and she and I from the beginning enjoyed that idea. We feel like we know couples like that. I like "The Needlers" [sketches] because there are a lot of jokes in them, and that keeps it fresh. You have to come up with 10 unique ways to put down someone you're married to. [Laughs] It's one of the pieces that gets better as the week goes on, too, because you keep coming up with better than what you have.
TVGuide.com: Give me an example of something you pitched for the Matt Dillon show.
Meyers: I was pitching that maybe on the way home from the Oscars, the limousine carrying all the black members of Crash crashed with the limousine carrying all the white members. [It didn't make the cut.] That's a much better pitch than it is a sketch! [Laughs]
TVGuide.com: Come writing day, when does everyone get started? How do y'all fuel up Red Bull and Cheetos?
Meyers: Everybody pretends to get started around 3 o'clock, but you can tell that all everybody's doing is waiting for dinner. Dinner comes around 6:30, and then around 7:30 you realize you're just staring the rest of the night in the eye. So then you... go and get a coffee. Eventually people get down to it.
TVGuide.com: And the show is typically "done" by 9 am Wednesday?
Meyers: Yeah, it seems to get later every year. By Wednesday at noon, the first pass at everything is written.
TVGuide.com: What was the most recent "brutal kill" for you? The last sketch of yours that you really liked but got cut?
Meyers: That's a very good question.... It's going to take me some time to think about it because I go to a hypnotist every Wednesday who makes me forget all my failures. [Laughs] To be honest, I haven't had any brutal kills this year.
TVGuide.com: And when something is killed, does it stay dead, or can you try to "resell" it another week?
Meyers: Oftentimes you'll have a really funny idea and it just doesn't quite fit with the host. And then people will suggest, "You know what, that's a perfect piece for host X," and then things get another life.
TVGuide.com: That was my next question, about the hosts. Is it SNL nirvana when you get someone so obviously gung-ho for anything, like Natalie Portman?
Meyers: She brought an incredible energy, and from the early looks of Matt Dillon, it's going to be much the same. He seemed to have a lot of energy in the meeting, and that makes all the difference in the world. People need to understand that part of the show is making a fool of yourself. It's really hard to look cool and also be funny.
TVGuide.com: Natalie's expletive-filled rap video was so fun on so many levels. Part of me suspects that a part of her really wants to be that way.
Meyers: You heard it here first: She's actually like she is in the rap video all the time.
TVGuide.com: Oh, don't tell me that. We love Princess Amidala.
Meyers: It's true.
TVGuide.com: SNL's digital shorts, beginning with "Lazy Sunday," have gotten the show a ton of fresh buzz this season.
Meyers: It's awesome. For a show that's been around for so long, it's exciting to be doing something superfresh and superyoung.
TVGuide.com: Are more and more digital-short concepts getting pitched each week, or is the show wary of Millionaire-ing the idea to death?
Meyers: It is absolutely something you have to be very careful of, because it still is Saturday Night Live, and you have to remember that it's the only show on TV doing live sketch comedy. You don't want to get too far away from that.
TVGuide.com: In last week's juice-bar sketch, you and Natalie nearly broke out with a case of the giggles. And once again, Horatio Sanz was present. He's the fly in the ointment, isn't he?
Meyers: Well, on a purely basic level, Horatio is the most infectiously funny person I know. So oftentimes if you're stuck out there waiting for Horatio to say his line, that's when you're very, very likely to go.
TVGuide.com: When you "break" like that, how do you snap out of it? Do you think sad thoughts, like, "Kevin Federline and Shar never really got their shot at happiness"?
Meyers: You know, it's really hard, because it's moving very quickly. Of course, when you say to yourself, "Don't laugh," laughing is going to be the only thought in your head at that point.
TVGuide.com: Let's finish up talking about the films you have in queue. First, American Dreamz.
Meyers: That's coming out in, like, late April. I'm really excited to see it myself. It's a satire about the president and American Idol and terrorism. I don't think a lot of people are trying to do movies about that, so I'm pretty excited about it.
TVGuide.com: Yes, too many movies overlook the obvious ties between the president, American Idol and terrorism.
Meyers: It takes a long time to make a movie, so you have to find something that's going to be consistent for a two-year cycle, and the things that are most consistent these days are our president, American Idol and the threat of terrorism. [Laughs]
TVGuide.com: And Key Party you're writing that one?
Meyers: Yeah, I'm writing that right now. We wrote a sketch called "Key Party" [for SNL] with Colin Farrell, and that just struck me as a really funny idea, that whole world of people who swing.
TVGuide.com: I have to laugh because I recently was told that there is a supersecret enclave of swinging, wife-swapping, key-party-throwing couples in my quaint little New Jersey neighborhood.
Meyers: See! Everybody keeps telling me that key parties are just something from the 70s, but we've had many people tell us that key parties are still happening, in New Jersey or upstate New York.
TVGuide.com: Well, to anyone reading this, here is your warning: My key chain has a Swiss Army knife on it.