People can only handle so much wit; Seth Meyers’ performance at Zellerbach Hall had much of the audience in tears. The “Saturday Night Live” head writer and anchor of the “Weekend Update” sketch was simply too funny. It was as though he walked on with a sash full of comedy arrows and casually hit a bulls-eye every time, while the audience grew helpless with laughter. The man is a natural, uproarious comedian and demonstrated at Zellerbach that stand-up remains a wonderfully clever art.
“‘An evening with Seth Meyers’ is way too classy an intro,” Meyers quipped to start off. Highlighting his “soccer casual” attire (jeans and Adidas sneakers), he claimed that he was there to “hang out.” He then proceeded into an eighty-minute comedy riot, heckling everyone from GOP candidates to college students and touching on topics from politics to porn. In his characteristic style, Meyers was cheeky and relevant, mixing current events with anecdotes and mercilessly clever jibes. He even poked fun at Cal, asking: “Don’t you wish you had the pepper spray?” and calling the Cal-Stanford rivalry the “whitest version of Bloods versus Crips.”
The performance was billed as an evening where Meyers would share his trademark humor as well as inside observations about “Saturday Night Live.” But apart from a short segment of one-liners that were censored from the show, there were few “SNL” insights. This was probably for the best, as Meyers the stand-up comic is considerably more immediate and entertaining than his television self. Outside the constraint of short TV sketches (not to say that they aren’t funny), his jokes take on a richer and more emphatic life. He is also a very personable character, which comes across in his stand-up and makes it all the more amusing.
Meyers’ stage persona is particularly impressive. On stage he is a prodigiously skilled and charismatic performer who possesses that all-important aspect of comedy: timing. His spot-on delivery and ample charm earned him huge rumbles of adoring laughter. Talking about his time in Amsterdam, Meyers was quick to say: “I didn’t live in Amsterdam for the reasons that you think.” And after baiting the audience in with a lengthy pause he offered: “No, I lived there because weed is legal there.” In this manner, Meyers worked the audience into incessant sniggering fits.
The evening overflowed with such facetious punch lines, a mark of Meyers’ boundless wit. A long romantic story about two people out on a date ended with a discussion of the phenomenon of “farting for forty-five minutes” after saying goodbye. The reason for presidents’ rapid aging was that it is a difficult task to govern the country seeing as America is “a nation of bitches.” Not a single person failed to laugh as Meyers unapologetically presented his jokes with hysterically unexpected endings. Many of his witticisms were delightfully clever: A man with no arms who broke into a store was easy to arrest because he was “unarmed.”
Beyond its entertainment value, Meyers’ performance affirmed the pertinence of intelligent and cognizant comedy. His informed style of humor is extremely valuable — by emphasizing the news and current events, he is able to point out the absurdity of the world we live in. This serves to make comic relief all the more meaningful and engaging. Sure, Meyers is not the first to popularize this sort of comedy, but it was truly refreshing to see him take to the stage and bring his relevant humor to campus.