TORONTO — Between upcoming cannabis legalization, the tense tenure of Ontario Premier Doug Ford and endless social media parodies of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, late night TV host Seth Meyers admits Canada has plenty of political fodder to mine for comedy these days.
“There’s a lot going on, you guys should be very proud right now,” Meyers says in a recent call from New York while preparing to tape “Late Night With Seth Meyers.”
The comic is known for skewering U.S. President Donald Trump and the beleaguered White House administration nightly on his NBC talk show, but says he’s looking forward to curtailing his U.S. politics material when he lands in Toronto to headline a weekend show at the JFL42 comedy festival.
He admits to having some Trump fatigue.
“I think we all do, you know. I don’t think there’s anybody out there saying, ‘You know what I’m not getting enough of? Donald Trump information,'” says the former “SNL” regular.
“So, it’s nice to have the framework to be able to go out and talk about the things that actually have more impact on my day-to-day life and are little bit more universal. Things like family and kids.”
That also means he’s not drumming up Canadian politics jokes.
“I assume that you would all be correctly insulted if I came in with slap-dash understanding of what’s going on,” says Meyers, adding that a Canadian audience would likely be too polite to protest.
“That’s the thing. I’d find out years later from someone else. You would tell some French person and they would be quick to tell me.”
The veteran performer is typically found sitting behind a desk these days — even during his show’s opening monologue — and says he finds returning to the more traditional standup delivery without TV cameras offers a welcome “intimacy” with the audience, as well as “a bit of self-therapy.”
While he’s not up-to-date on the latest political controversies in Canada, Meyers says he has been following the recent media blunders of Canadian comic Norm Macdonald.
He notes the “Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” faced a tough decision last week in cancelling Macdonald’s appearance after the fellow “SNL” alum appeared to defend disgraced friends Louis C.K. and Roseanne, while seeming to disparage the #MeToo movement in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter.
Meyers says he’s not sure whether he would have made the same call, while acknowledging the chaotic pressures of putting on a nightly talk show make such decisions all the more difficult: “These things happen very fast these days and you have to make a choice.”
“It’s hard to put yourself in that situation but I certainly would have wanted to … ask Norm about things he said in that interview that I had found troubling,” he says.
“Much in the same way that I believe Howard Stern did the next day and ultimately, let’s be honest, if there’s anybody you want to ask people about anything, Howard’s probably the best one out there as far as getting people to give an answer,” says Meyers, adding that he’s a big fan of Macdonald, a fellow former “Weekend Update” anchor.
He notes the conversation around many shamed stars has revolved around how and when they can return to the spotlight.
For Meyers, that’s the wrong question.
“It’s not really about the time. I think that’s what we’re getting caught up in is saying: ‘What’s the amount of time that has to pass before people are free of what they’ve done?’ And the answer isn’t there’s a number — it’s not like, ‘Oh, for this crime it’s 11 months and then they get to go back on talk shows, and for this crime it’s two years and then they get to have talk shows again.’
“I think the thing is, how have they behaved? And do you actually get a sense that they realize what they did wrong and why they did it wrong and do you believe it’s not going to happen again? Those are hard things but ultimately those of us who make the decisions as to whether or not we have people on our talk shows, we’re not victims in any way shape or form but we just have to be thoughtful about it and weigh it and decide as a show if the person themself has changed in any way since the act happened.”
Meyers appears at Toronto’s JFL42 on Saturday.
Cassandra Szklarski, The Canadian Press