Seth Meyers, comedian and cast member of “Saturday Night Live,” is excited and ready to bring some “foolishness” to Madison. The funnyman will be appearing at the Barrymore Theatre tonight for a live stand-up comedy show.
This will be Meyers’ first visit to Madison, and the Northwestern University alum is admittedly a little embarrassed by that fact.
“I feel like I went to almost every Big Ten school to see a football game at some point, so I’m pretty excited to get to Madison for the first time,” Meyers said.
The comedian has plenty of expectations for this bustling college town.
“I hear it’s just, like, a madhouse,” Meyers explained. “That’s what they tell you; It’s like the Vegas of Wisconsin. Or maybe, Las Vegas is the Madison of Nevada.”
As a student, Meyers said he was a little less than fantastic.
“I was good at cramming, a good procrastinator and managed to survive,” Meyers said.
Where Meyers excelled during his college years was in improv comedy. He picked it up at Northwestern and continued on after graduation, which put him on the path to where he is today.
“My parents probably would argue that I would have gotten the same result from a less expensive school,” Meyers joked.
Meyers moved to downtown Chicago and began to do improv with a group called Comedy Olympics. When some of his fellow Wildcats formed an improv theater in Amsterdam, Meyers moved to Holland to join their team.
“That was a really good time; I’m not gonna lie to you,” Meyers said.
He also explained that despite being in Amsterdam, language was never an issue. What was a barrier for the American comedy team was the topic of pop culture. According to Meyers, the Dutch tend to follow the politics of the United States rather than the entertainment media.
“But mostly it was exciting to realize that American people are funnier than European people,” Meyers said jokingly. “European people, therefore, have to import their comedians.”
After returning to Chicago from Amsterdam, Meyers was part of a two-man show with his friend, Joe Benjamin. He explained how in 2000 they were doing a performance at the Chicago Improv Festival when someone from “Saturday Night Live” in the audience saw him – and liked what he saw.
The SNL employee approached Meyers and suggested sending in an audition tape; he was hired onto the show after a live audition in New York City.
Since becoming a cast member, Meyers has witnessed the evolution of the show itself, as well as the regrouping of a broken city and nation. After the terrorist attacks in 2001, Meyers said almost everything changed.
“On a political level, the world became a bit scarier of a place around the time that I started [“Saturday Night Live”], and that was unfortunate because I felt like it was a bit of a sad time to be doing it,” Meyers said. “But with that said, I’m really glad I’ve been living in New York City the last 10 years because I feel like this is the greatest city on earth, and you really saw it most right after that.”
Other changes in the show include the slight adaption to viewers’ shorter attention spans. Meyers credits the addition of the “Digital Shorts” as a sign of transition toward using more pre-taped sketches to keep things going a little faster.
When it comes to the difference between an episode of “Saturday Night Live” and his live comedy experience, Meyers favors the audience size of a stand-up show to that of “SNL.”
“The nicest thing, I think, about doing a live comedy tour with just you is that you’re not serving a greater show,” Meyers explained. “You get to sort of serve the house and entertain however many people are in the audience. … There’s something really intimate and fun about doing a comedy show in a nice theater.”
The show in Madison will allow Meyers to step out from the desk at “Weekend Update” and be a little more personal.
“It gives me a chance to talk a little bit more about myself and my own experiences, but at the same time I also like to talk about what’s going on in the world,” Meyers said.
Seth Meyers will perform tonight at 7:30 p.m. in Madison’s Barrymore Theatre. Tickets are $35.