NEW YORK (AP) - The monologue jokes were mostly thin and the host seemed stiff delivering them.
But jokes about the Winter Olympics that already felt irrelevant, and a few opening-night butterflies for the guy voicing them, could be excused. Soon enough, Seth Meyers seemed to gain control of his inaugural edition of “Late Night.”
Part of his subsequent comfort level had to be explained by his savvy choice of guests. Amy Poehler, his longtime pal and former “Weekend Update” deskmate on “Saturday Night Live” was the first guest of NBC’s “Late Night with Seth Meyers.”
His other guest: Vice President Joe Biden, who’s a talk show all by himself.
When Biden arrived to join Poehler, it made for a cozy trio. After all, Biden and Poehler have a history of their own, reaching back to his cameo appearance last season on her NBC sitcom “Parks and Recreation.”
“Amy really helped me with the Secret Service,” said Biden, who reported that when he had finished shooting his “Parks and Recreation” scene and was making his departure, the smitten Poehler grabbed a Secret Service agent by the lapels and demanded, “You take care of him!”
But when Meyers asked Biden what his own 2016 political plans might be, he sidestepped the question. He said he had meant to make a major announcement on the show, but changed his mind. As he explained to Meyers, “Tonight’s YOUR night. So I hope you’ll invite me back.”
Meyers, who until early this month was an “SNL” veteran and co-anchor of its “Weekend Update” newscast, is filling the vacancy left by Jimmy Fallon after five years as “Late Night” host.
Fallon, of course, moved up last week to be host of “The Tonight Show,” replacing Jay Leno.
So far, the late-night changes are paying off. Riding the crest of NBC’s Olympics coverage, “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” was seen by an average of 8.5 million viewers in its first week, the biggest “Tonight” audience in decades.
Can the 40-year-old Meyers make the most of this popular lead-in?
He comes to his new role as a talk-show host with demonstrated skill and appeal from his years as an “SNL” writer and performer.
He is known as a TV star who doesn’t hog the spotlight and enjoys playing the straight man. He is also known as cerebral, which, if not moderated, could work against him: One of his monologue jokes hinged on the viewer knowing who Doris Kearns Goodwin is. It wasn’t very funny either. And flopped.