SNL’s top 5 Seth Meyers sketches
For the first time in 12 years, Seth Meyers will be a sketch regular on Saturday Night Live.
Given his program-record anchoring tenure on Weekend Update, it is easy to forget what Meyers did beforehand. But his first hosting gig since leaving the show in 2014 equals a chance to revisit some recurring bits from his first five seasons on the cast.
Tellingly, many of his most memorable performances proved a harbinger for his Update duties. Many of them accentuated his chemistry with Amy Poehler, his fellow rookie from 2001-02 and brief Update co-anchor.
Early on, when he looked like an older version of the boy from the “Stacy’s Mom” music video, Meyers frequently played Poehler’s partner or sibling. Elsewhere, he often tried his hand at an Irish accent, sometimes working under the wing of then-Update co-anchor Jimmy Fallon.
But Meyers bloomed in earnest between Fallon and Will Ferrell’s departure and the arrivals of Jason Sudeikis and Bill Hader. During SNL’s parodies of the 2004 presidential election, he had the privilege of impersonating Democratic nominee John Kerry. In his last year before shifting his focus to writing and anchoring, he offered a sound impression of Anderson Cooper.
With his repeat fictional characters, though, Meyers occasionally stood out as a goof but was otherwise a straight stalwart. That balance would define his seven-and-a-half years behind the Update desk and subsequent move to NBC’s Late Night.
And now, for at least one week, he has a chance to revisit his teeth-cutting years. Any of these five sketches (some pending Poehler’s availability) would make for the ultimate Meyers-themed SNL episode.
While you can only cultivate so much from the professional-acting-like-a-high-schooler approach, Meyers maximized everything this sketch afforded him.
Until he was focusing on Update, he rarely got blocks of front-and-center screen time this big. At all points in his 12-plus years on SNL, he was rarely able to exude as much energy as he does through Dave “Zinger” Clinger.
4. “Spy Glass”
Is it a stretch to call Zoe Anderton and Ian Gerrard the British alter-egos of Poehler and Meyers’ Update personas? Only a little.
This parody of entertainment gossip ran four times in two seasons. As it happened, Poehler had already succeeded Fallon as Tina Fey’s Update partner in the second year. Meyers would fill Fey’s vacancy two years afterward.
Before that, minus the loud ties and loaded strings of puns, this was essentially a preview of update circa 2006-2008. Both anchors were quite sunny, with Meyers/Gerrard getting quizzical on occasion.
Even before Ashton Kutcher brought Punk’d into existence, Meyers was hosting a parody of the concept. Except, as a supposed Noggin program, this should have been much kid-friendlier than Punk’d would. His character, host Zack Ricky, intends relatively harmless hidden-camera fun.
But in its February 2003 debut, none other than Chris Walken brings a dark comic twist. This gives Meyers, in his sophomore season, an early stab at the straight-man interviewing style he later brought to Update.
Walken plays Larry Hobson, a man well beyond Ricky’s conventional demographic. Proving himself out of place all the more, Hobson shows his lethal hit on a coworker as his prank. Naturally, Ricky is repelled, but gets no help from his crew, who go along with the grossly inappropriate light on Hobson’s action.
Almost two years later, Robert De Niro would offer the same twist on a later installment. After this, dealing with Drunk Uncle’s antics should be easy by comparison.
2. “Appalachian Emergency Room”
Sometimes it is the reactions (or lack thereof) to everyone else’s chaos that make the character.
As Nerod the receptionist, Meyers knows his place in this sketch’s dynamic between staff and patients. Nerod’s consistent straight face and matter-of-fact summonings and delivery of directions fit the character’s inured take on Tyler (Chris Parnell), Netty (Poehler) and Percy (Darrell Hammond).
With that said, one-off patients can put him off with their stories. In a Christmastime edition from a 2005 episode, host Jack Black serves as a sound example. He plays a Nativity actor, Sandy Joey Juggerson, who had injured himself amidst activities unbecoming of a churchgoer.
Meyers does not need any lines to prolong the humor in that sequence. He merely needs to hold a disgusted frown for three seconds before directing Sandy to Room 10.
1. “The Needlers”
One season before becoming Update teammates, Meyers and Poehler treated us to a dysfunctional couple’s exploits. In such settings as a restaurant, reunion and fertility clinic, they stop short of heeding the sketch’s subtitle, “The Couple That Should Be Divorced.”
As the premise of the bit dictated, the two traded barbs to illustrate that subtitle. Under that format, Meyers previewed his humorous anchoring aptitude through setup-punchline combinations.
One of Dan Needler’s definitive two-part lines comes in the clinic sketch of a Natalie Portman-hosted episode. Of his wife, he says, “Sally’s gonna be a great mom. She’s been treating me like a child for years.”
Later in the skit, Portman’s character suggests they try pet ownership before having children. The Needlers’ response proves a sneak peek at the Poehler-Meyers Update chemistry.
“You know, we had a dog. It ran away,” Dan notes. Sally adds that “we found it, but it ran away again.”
Meyers’ subsequent delivery of “That dog wanted out!” captures Dan’s obliviousness to the obvious.