Seth Meyers, the head writer for Saturday Night Live, entertained a packed crowd in Salomon 101 last night, performing stand-up, answering questions and even sharing some "Weekend Update" jokes that were censored from SNL - all while talking a mile a minute.
Meyers set the tone for the evening as Hannah Cockrell '13, co-president of the Brown Lecture Board, introduced him and mentioned his appearance in the almost universally panned romantic comedy "New Year's Eve," released in December. In response to a collective bout of giggling from the audience, Meyers poked his head out from behind the curtain to shout, "It's not a joke!" to raucous cheers.
When Meyers took the stage, he mocked his appearance in the film but quickly turned the tables. "The weirdest kid in my high school went to Brown," he said pointedly. "I know you want the whole world to think you're a bunch of John Krasinskis."
Meyers attended Northwestern University, where he performed in an improv troupe. After graduating, he stayed in Chicago to take classes and perform with IO, formerly called Improv Olympic. He then moved to Amsterdam, where he said he had the "greatest two years."
"It's not what you think," he said in response to audience laughter at his mention of Amsterdam. "I lived in Amsterdam because weed is legal there," Meyers clarified. But he later explained that he enjoyed his time there because he was constantly on-stage.
Meyers returned to the United States two years later, and in 2001 he joined the SNL cast after being discovered at his two-person comedy performance in Chicago. In 2006, he was promoted to head writer.
Meyers began his stand-up routine discussing topics he said college students know well - futons, weed and those annoying friends who return from studying abroad and complain about drinking American beer and eating American chocolate.
Meyers then turned to politics, a frequent subject of his jokes. One of his more famous skits, former SNL head writer Tina Fey's impression of Sarah Palin, drew national attention during the 2008 election.
"I think the best show on television this fall has been the GOP debates," he said. "I miss Michele Bachmann," he added. "Michele Bachmann to me has the eyes of a woman who just heard Michele Bachmann was elected president."
He also expressed incredulity at the number of politicians involved in sex scandals, saying there is "nothing stupider." Texting an inappropriate picture - or tweeting one, like former New York Congressman Anthony Weiner - is "super high-risk," he said. "The woman who will be angriest is the woman who is most likely to recognize it as your genitals."
Meyers also showed his human side to a wide-eyed and admiring audience, describing the awkwardness of greeting President Obama at the 2011 White House Correspondent's dinner when he prematurely stuck out his arm and intercepted Obama's handshake with Meyers' girlfriend.
"I had to access the part of my brain that comes up with witty comebacks when you're in awful situations to diffuse the most awkward situation I'd been in in my life with the most powerful man on earth," Meyers said. "So here's what I came up with ... I said, 'Hahahaha, I know' and ran away."
Meyers said he was the only man in the country who was disappointed by Osama Bin Laden's death. Since Obama announced the death the day after Meyers' performance at the dinner, he explained that he felt robbed of the press' attention.
But Meyers added that he was reassured when he realized Obama had probably sent forces to capture Bin Laden to take out his anger about Meyers' jokes upstaging his.
Continuing on the topic of terrorism, Meyers said many people believe the Koran promises 72 virgins to martyrs, but added that he had recently heard that might be a mistranslation - the word may actually mean grapes. "That would be the best burn! You're a suicide bomber and you get to the afterlife ... and it's like ... here are your grapes!"
Students said Meyers lived up to their expectations. Kathryn Graves '15, the first student in line last night, arrived at Salomon Center at 2 p.m., though the doors were not set to open until 6:15. "I love Seth Meyers - even if he's just reading the dictionary, that's fine," she said.
Meyers did her one better. During one of the evening's many highlights, he recited "Weekend Update" jokes that were deemed too inappropriate for SNL.
"According to Alaskan expense reports, Sarah Palin charged the state of Alaska for $21,000 for her children to travel with her on official business. In fairness to Palin, when she leaves them home alone, they get pregnant," he said to wild roars of laughter and applause.
Meyers also responded to questions from students, discussing the "really, really, collaborative" relationship between writers and his love for Stefon, the flamboyant "Weekend Update" guest portrayed by Bill Hader.
On last weekend's episode, Stefon planted a lengthy kiss on Meyers' lips. But Meyers said, "I kissed Fred Armisen a lot deeper than that."
Meyers' love for his job was evident throughout the evening. He recounted a story of bumping into a fan in the middle of the street in New York City. When the fan screamed, "Oh my god!" Meyers was poised to turn, face him and "make his f***ing life," only to realize the man was actually screaming about a woman who had gotten hit by a car, not Meyers.
He felt bad about his assumption, he said. "But then I thought, what if the driver of the car also saw me?"