Poehler, Biden boost Meyers' 'Late Night' debut

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What viewers could not yet find was the hint of an edge that he managed to show — friendly, but a definite edge — at “Weekend Update.”

In other ways, though, Meyers did not work to distance himself from his “Saturday Night Live” roots. Beyond “SNL” impresario Lorne Michaels running “Late Night With Seth Meyers,” there was the opening-night presence of Poehler, Meyers’ former cast mate and “Weekend Update” co-anchor.

And in early February, just a couple of weeks before showtime, Meyers announced Fred Armisen, another ex-cast mate, as his bandleader. (Chicagoans may remember Armisen from his pre-“SNL” incarnation as drummer in the band Trenchmouth.) Armisen seemed just right on Night One, delivering quick banter with Meyers about his (fake) “recent history” show on The History Channel.

The rest of his first-week guest list branched out a bit, including Kanye West, Kelly Ripa and Lena Dunham.

Meyers was born in Evanston and raised, like Adam Sandler and Sarah Silverman, in Manchester, N.H. He returned to Evanston to get a degree from Northwestern University.

He joined the Chicago improv scene, performing, for instance, at ImprovOlympic and with the Boom Chicago troupe in Amsterdam. He started at “SNL” in 2001 and didn’t leave until it came time to start this job.

Meyers becomes the fourth host of “Late Night,” which Letterman originated on NBC in 1982. Conan O’Brien and Jimmy Fallon followed Letterman.

Meyers surely has more tricks up his sleeve. He has said he wants his writers — a high percentage of them with Chicago ties — to also be performers.

But for the first “Late Night With Seth Meyers” hour, he delivered a sort of old-school, comfortable late-night talk show that relied, mostly, on the audience finding the host charming. We did, but if we’re going to keep tuning in, we’re going to want something more.

sajohnson@tribune.com | Twitter: @StevenKJohnson
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