Seth Meyers has a good idea of what it means to kill as host of the Golden Globe Awards. Each time Tina Fey and Amy Poehler hosted the show, from 2013 to 2015, Meyers was part of a pit crew of writers who huddled backstage, writing jokes and bits on the fly.
The host of NBC’s “Late Night” is calling in favors from writer friends as he prepares for his first outing as Globes emcee on Jan. 7. His time in the trenches with Fey and Poehler made one thing clear: The night will rise or fall on the strength of the show’s opening minutes.
“If the monologue goes well, then there’s a real looseness to the rest of the night,” Meyers says.
A big response from the room emboldens the host for the rest of the three-hour live telecast.
“You’re able to go out and do something off the cuff that you would be less inclined to do if you hadn’t started off with such a strong segment,” he continues.
Meyers has bravely taken on the assignment of going live without a net (but with a few seconds tape delay) for an expected audience of 20 million-ish viewers at a time when the country is riven with political and cultural strife. The mood in the ballroom at the Beverly Hilton will also be charged as Hollywood roils from the sexual harassment crisis.
Meyers accentuates the positive by noting that his team thrives on a challenge. His professional training for the gig includes two stints as host of ESPN’s ESPY Awards (in 2010 and 2011) and an outing as Primetime Emmy Awards host in 2014.
“You don’t really get to decide the year you host these things,” he says. “You just really have to say yes.”
And yes, he’s asking Fey and Poehler to reciprocate with material for him this time around. He also intends to reach out to another Globes host predecessor, Ricky Gervais.
“Ricky deserves a lot of credit. He really reset the idea of what a Globes host could be in the modern era — something that could be great comedy,” Meyers says.
With no song-and-dance numbers or sketches to worry about, Meyers feels the Globes are his “best fit as far as awards shows go.”
Meyers says he expects to take tighter aim at Hollywood than at Trump and the chaos in Washington. “I feel a responsibility to address more Hollywood-centric issues than Washington-centric issues this year,” he explains. “It’s not like I don’t talk about Trump every night [on ‘Late Night’]. It’d be nice to give myself a break.”
Meyers hasn’t shied away from addressing the industry’s dirty laundry on “Late Night,” including the scandal that has hit NBC with Matt Lauer’s ouster from “Today.” (“If you’re giving someone a dildo at work, you’re the dildo at work,” Meyers observed on his Nov. 30 show.) It’s a harder subject to tackle outside the structure of his daily reportage on “Late Night,” he admits.
“We will tread as lightly as [we] can, but at the same time we don’t want to avoid it,” Meyers says. “We’ll aim for the line, and knowing how my history has gone, we’ll probably end up on the wrong side of it one or two times.”
The Globes is sure to draw an audience 10-times larger than the average audience for “Late Night.” But Meyers doesn’t have any intention of adapting his style or humor for an arena-sized crowd.
“Ultimately you have to be the best version of yourself when you get these jobs,” he says. “It would be problematic for me if I start thinking about doing something else just because of the scope.”
Meyers and his team will relocate to Los Angeles for the two weeks leading up to the telecast — weeks that “Late Night” was already scheduled to be dark. The key will be to create a sense of intimacy in the Hilton that allows viewers feel they’re at the table for a glitzy Hollywood party. The dinner (and copious booze) that is part of the Globes ceremony helps that cause.
“Amy and Tina made it feel like a dinner party they were hosting,” Meyers says. “I’m hoping we can get close to that same feeling.”
Meyers knows from experience as a Globes presenter how intimidating it can be to play to a small room packed with such high-wattage stars.
“You just try to dial up your gaze a bit beyond the first few rows of tables and think about it as little as possible.”