Like many others fortunate enough to still be working, comedian, writer, television host, and seasonal Chilmark resident Seth Meyers has found new ways to make the best out of a bad situation.
Ever since the coronavirus pandemic shut down many events, stores, and workplaces, the star of “Late Night with Seth Meyers” has been filming from the attic in his New York home.
Wanting to give back to the Island community that has supported him and his family, Meyers agreed to host the Martha’s Vineyard Community Services 42nd annual Possible Dreams Auction. While specifics on the auction are still being worked out, Meyers spoke with The Times on a phone call about the auction, his Vineyard life, and which TV shows he’s been watching.
What’s your history with the Vineyard? What brought you here?
It was weird, because I grew up in New England, I grew up in southern New Hampshire, but I think, as a family, we only maybe came once growing up. And then I met my wife, whose family’s had a place in Chilmark since I think the early ’90s and basically our third date was me rolling the dice and flying out to meet her family. I mean, there’s a lot worse places you can go on a third date than Martha’s Vineyard. It’s become a destination for me ever since. I guess we’re coming on 12 years of me coming out there.
So you’re hosting the Possible Dreams Auction, can you tell me a little bit about that? Will you be hosting it from your attic?
The weird thing is, unfortunately, not knowing where I’m going to be then. I think that we don’t even know now if I’ll be back in the studio this summer, which you know will change our plans. It could very well be from the attic.
Edward Miller, who is a friend, has been trying to get me involved in this over the past couple years. It’s always not quite worked out, because it’s a Sunday night before a Monday show for me back in the city, but this year I had actually agreed to do it before it was even virtual, and you know, circumstances led to this. So we don’t quite know how we’re going to figure it out yet, but I think it’ll be fun, and I’m glad it’s not the first year of an event like this, because I think it would maybe be hard to convince people to tune in, but it strikes me as something that people are pretty passionate about, so we’re thinking the virtual will work as well.
What made you say yes to hosting?
I mean, mostly just wanting to give back to the community that’s been so supportive of us. It’s not just that I’m spending summers out there, but now it’s our kids’ favorite place; we got married out there. And, you know, I don’t think anybody who spends as much time as I’ve spent there could not have an emotional connection to the place.
There’s all those different, cool dreams people can bid on; what would you bid on? A peanut butter sandwich with Carly Simon? A walk-on role on “Curb Your Enthusiasm”?
A peanut butter sandwich with Carly Simon would be pretty outstanding. She was going to have a concert in New York City in March that I was going to host that unfortunately got pandemic-canceled, so yeah, a peanut butter sandwich with Carly Simon.
I feel like there’s enough people on Martha’s Vineyard that have connections to the Red Sox, you know, I wouldn’t ask for much, just maybe start at center field for like a weekend. Obviously not against the Yankees or something, but let’s say the Orioles. I’d love to get like 12 to 15 at-bats, just to get my timing down. I think it would be very unfair if they would judge me on just one or two trips to the plate.
Tell me about your show that you’re filming from your attic.
We’re still writing the show the same way. That ultimately hasn’t changed at all. What’s changed is the burden is entirely on me to figure out how to film it, and do the sound and the lighting and my makeup and my hair. And by the way, it shows. The step down on the quality of those jobs on the show is very noticeable.
We’ve had this week off, which was a scheduled hiatus, and we’re actually trying to upgrade our tech.
I just feel lucky that we’ve figured out a way to still do the show. Obviously there’s a lot of people, for a number of reasons, who aren’t fortunate enough to go to work every day. Even though the location’s changed, it does still seem the same rewards, ultimately, if you’re able to put together an hour of television every day.
What’s it like recording without an audience?
I will be very happy to perform in front of an audience again, but it is also fun to just charge ahead with jokes. I would say we’re doing five jokes a day [that] I’m positive would not work in front of an audience, and then it would be very hard to argue for their inclusion in the show based on how badly they played; whereas now, the good ones sound just like the bad ones, so you can keep them in there. There is some freedom to that.
I will say that doing the show in the attic as things are getting warmer, I don’t know the core science behind it, but I can verify heat rises, and it is by far becoming an attic sauna.
Now for some fun questions. If you could have one takeout meal from anyplace on Martha’s Vineyard right now, where would it be?
Either pizza from the Chilmark Store, or I’m going to say oysters from Larsen’s. Put me down for a plate of oysters from Larsen’s.
It’s looking like it’s going to be an old-fashioned summer on the Vineyard — hiking, board games. What are you and your family looking forward to the most?
I wish that my wife and her family liked board games, because it has been a huge gap in my Martha’s Vineyard experience. My wife’s family are beach people. I am a Scrabble person. So that would be really nice, but I do think there’s plenty of ways to social distance on the Vineyard and still enjoy it for its beauty.
What have you and your wife been binge watching?
When this started, we watched “Love Is Blind,” which I highly don’t recommend. It’s like the way you wouldn’t recommend crack cocaine. Like if you start it, you’ll finish it, but you won’t end it feeling like you’ve bettered yourself.
Then we watched “Normal People” on Hulu. Some fine Irish acting in “Normal People” that was really good. And then I think just to relax and take things easy, nothing too heavy, we’ll probably get into that Jeffrey Epstein documentary.