• SXSW Comedy, day 1: Seth Meyers reveals news on Stefon, Matt Besser leads Improv 4 Humans

    AUSTIN – South by Southwest 2014 kicked off to… rain. And cold. Apparently the polar vortex gods do not discriminate between the great white north and the usually milder environs of Texas, to the chagrin of every SX patron trying to escape winter on March 8.

    One of those northern escapees was Seth Meyers, who briefly left New York to participate in a panel about his new show, Late Night with Seth Meyers, on NBC. Joining him onstage were moderator Olivia Munn and producer Mike Shoemaker, also known for his work on Saturday Night Live and Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. The conversation frequently focused on the differences between the new show and Seth’s experience on SNL— a trying task, especially considering that the SNL studio is literally next door to that of Late Night, making the temptation to fall back into the old ways particularly potent. The new nightly digs enable more nimble topicality, said Meyers, because they don’t have to wait an entire week to lampoon a story.

    But lest ye be despondent that Meyers’ reign on SNL has come to a complete end, he teased that while he has no intention to poach old characters, at some point Stefon will be on the show. New York’s hottest club is… Late Night. Keep holding on.

    We also learned some lovely personal tidbits about Meyers himself. He has a Blackberry, not an iPhone, so “nothing works in [his] life.” His SNL audition back in 2001 involved impressions of Hugh Grant, Russell Crowe (which Munn asked to see, prompting a swift refusal from Meyers), and David Arquette. And, finally, he loves sandwiches. To the point where he puts food inside of other food to make it a sandwich. Like steak and baked potatoes. We formally recommend you follow his example, dear readers. Let us know about your stuffed creations.

    Shortly thereafter, audiences at the nearby Esther’s Follies comedy club enjoyed “improv4humans,” the first podcast taping of SXSW 2014. Improv4humans is hosted by improv comedy legend Matt Besser, who co-founded the Upright Citizens Brigade comedy troupe, and joining him onstage were Adam Pally, Jon Gabrus, Shannon O’Neill and Tim Meadows. The show is like any improv show: the crew asks for words or phrases from the audience from which they can contrive an absurd (and usually hilarious) scenario—but performed solely through conversation. It’s a podcast, you know. Physical and visual gags don’t really translate.

    A particularly memorable sketch involved a dramatization of an experience Gabrus had in college with Carrot Top (no, not like that—get your mind out of the gutter). Carrot Top was slated to perform at Gabrus’ college, but included in his tour rider was a requirement for two hours at the school’s emptied gym. So Carrot Top could work out in peace, naturally. The scene was constructed around the following question, the answer to which I will not spoil for you because spoilers are for the inhuman: what does it take to become Carrot Top’s spotter?

    With such seasoned improv comics onstage, it came as no surprise that the audience was utterly enraptured with the performance. And following the show’s conclusion, we were released to a cliché dark and stormy night. Get it together, Texas weather, this frigid nonsense is not why I moved here.

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    Carrie Andersen

    In addition to writing for Laughspin, Carrie is a graduate student in Austin, Texas, where she researches popular culture, new media, music, and social movements. When not reading or writing in any official capacity, she spends her time playing the drums, watching crappy TV, and eating copious amounts of tacos and barbecue. She also blogs sporadically at carrieandersen.com.

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