As the inaugural speaker for a series of talks designed to highlight “The Power of the Individual,” special guest Seth Meyers set the bar high.
Throughout his one-hour standup routine, the famed Saturday Night Live head writer and comedian, brought to JHU as a joint-effort between MSE and the HOP, had the audience of Shriver Hall caught in the powerfully hilarious web of his comedy.
“The event went as smoothly as we could have hoped, considering the high levels of energy and excitement surrounding the event. The HOP personnel were unbelievable before the event, helping us in setting up lighting, sound and maintaining order at the entrance to Shriver,” MSE Co-Chair, Corey Rogoff said.
Meyers began his set by getting to know his audience, giving a shout-out to each class year.
“You can always tell who’s a freshman because freshmen still think they need to raise their hands,” Meyers joked, who had but one message for the seniors: “Sorry about the economy.”
A leading satirist on a TV show that is known to have a liberal bias, Meyers presented many standup bits that were, quite understandably, politically infused and pro-democrat.
“The GOP debates were my favorite reality show of last fall,” Meyers joked. “It was like a season of ‘Survivor’ where they wouldn’t vote anyone off the island.”
Meyers also got quite a few laughs at the expense of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
“Barack Obama is great at debates,” Meyers said. “And Mitt Romney has had terrible practice to get ready for Barack Obama because he had to debate all the idiots that were in the GOP primaries…if you were a comedian, [the GOP candidates] were the best group of people.”
Meyers, who headlined the 2011 White House Correspondents’ Dinner, jokingly theorized that his excellent performance at the dinner caused President Obama to be jealous and, as a result, have Osama Bin Laden killed.
“So you’re welcome, America,” Meyers said, who received a thunderous applause.
But Meyers didn’t limit his set to political humor. The comedian took time to examine the finer angles of such topics as proper futon etiquette, getting punched in the face at a Las Vegas nightclub and his disharmony with Donald Trump.
Meyers’ visit to Hopkins puts him in the company of many established comedians who have visited the JHU campus as part of the MSE Symposium, including Will Ferrell, Aziz Ansari and Jason Alexander.
“After the success of last year’s Aziz Ansari event, we were committed to bringing another entertainer. Seth was our first choice because of his unique blend of comedy and political satire and we were very lucky he was available. He was phenomenal at the WHCD in 2011, and the possibility of having SNL’s head writer come to Hopkins during the apex of the 2012 election season was too good to pass up,” MSE Co-Chair, Corey Rogoff said.
“Nothing is better than starting off the first day of classes with Seth Myers,” freshman Mike Clark said after the show. “I watch SNL all the time and love Weekend Update.”
At the conclusion of his routine, Meyers, well-known as the anchor for SNL’s Weekend Update, reached into his pocket for a special treat for the audience: a stack of notecards containing numerous headlines that couldn’t air on NBC.
“Sometimes there’s a story that’s so crazy, we write more than one punchline,” Meyers said, who went on to report that police in Germany arrested a man with no arms for trying to steal a TV.
The fan-favorite punchline: “Police said it was an easy arrest, as the man was unarmed.”
Meyers’ comedy routine was followed by a half-hour Q&A session, which included a coy marriage proposal, a photograph request and at least three pleas for a job at SNL.
Others took the opportunity to ask more insightful questions of the Northwestern grad, who said that his “worst best moment in college” involved throwing a bag Ricotta cheese off the roof of his Phi Gamma Delta fraternity house.
Meyers revealed that his favorite SNL cast mate of all time is Amy Poehler, who parted ways with the show in 2008. He added that current cast member Fred Armisen is the one who “probably makes the most of us laugh around the office.”
“My favorite things [to write about] are things that happened that week,” Meyers explained. “Because you really have to turn it over in a very short period of time.”
Contrary to what Meyers’ standup routine might suggest, the comic revealed that even he has struggled onstage at some point.
“I did a show in Edinburgh, Scotland once…me and my comedy partner were trying to do improv at a standup round,” Meyers said. “Which is almost impossible…we were bombing so hard, at one point a dude threw a full pint of beer at me. And I remember thinking when he did it that he was right, too.”
As for Meyers’ comedic inspiration, he admitted to growing up a fan of comedians Woody Allen, Steve Martin and Richard Pryor, as well as SNL and Monty Python.
“My parents had really good comedic taste,” Meyers said.
Shriver Hall was packed to capacity for the event, which lasted about an hour and half.
“It’s very unfortunate that so many Hopkins students were turned away from such a great event. It was very bittersweet seeing those huge snaking lines for the Seth Meyers event: We felt proud that we had brought a speaker that really resonated with the Hopkins community, but lacked the capacity to seat all of the excited students. We had considered another venue the moment that we had booked Seth, because of the similar situation that occurred last year at the Aziz event. However, after weighing all the options, we all decided that Shriver gave us the greatest number of seats while still maintaining a comfortable atmosphere,” MSE Co-Chair, Corey Rogoff said.
Clark was a part of a small group of freshmen that made sure to get a good spot on what would become a massive line of students outside of Shriver Hall.
“We came here at 5:30pm and camped out [for a good seat], and it was worth every second of it,” freshman Stephen Watson said. “The only thing that would make it better is if he retweeted one of my tweets.”