Imminent Late Night host Seth Meyers is known best for two things: Presiding over Saturday Night Live’s writers’ room since 2005, and expertly anchoring the Weekend Update desk – with Amy Poehler, alone, and with Cecily Strong – since 2006.
What you may not remember, though, is that Meyers originally joined SNL as a featured player way back in 2001, giving him the second longest tenure of any cast member in SNL history. (He’s outstripped only by go-to impressionist Darrell Hammond, who stuck around for 14 seasons.) And though Meyers only really became a household name when he inherited Tina Fey’s Update seat, his 13 years of Saturday Nights also included plenty of memorable work away from the fake news desk. (And that’s not even counting his behind-the-scenes contributions; Meyers was instrumental in crafting SNL’s wicked take on Sarah Palin, among countless others.)
So before Meyers departs SNL for good this weekend, let’s take a look back at some of his best non-Update sketches – the type of stuff we likely won’t see much of once he makes the leap to Late Night. After all, if you looked that good in a suit, you’d move away from character work too.
10. “Patriotic Briefs”
Seth Meyers moved to New York City on August 20, 2001 – meaning his very first episode of SNL and the series’ first post-September 11 show were one and the same. Meyers’ first actual sketch appearance, however, came the following week, in a bit that memorably skewered 9/11-inspired shows of patriotism. And while Will Ferrell’s bare butt is certainly the sketch’s centerpiece, Meyers also gets in a few great reaction shots. Ironically enough, the full jingoistic masterpiece only seems to be available through a Russian YouTube clone.
9. “Anderson Cooper 360: Celebs Rebuild Houses”
Meyers has a gift for finding humor even when he’s playing the straight man, as in this sharp take on celebrities offering their help to Katrina-ravaged New Orleans. His best Cooperian quip: “I stand here among massive devastation, among the ruins of a once-great city, and yet somehow I still manage to look great.”
8. “Rice Confirmation”
Meyers’s gravelly voiced John Kerry never achieved the same heights as, say, Ferrell’s Dubya or Fey’s Palin. (For that, you can hardly blame Meyers; John Kerry just isn’t a particularly fun guy.) But he did have a few notable turns, especially when playing Kerry as a petulant loser in this post-election sketch. He’s bringing in both da noise and da funk.
7. “The Couple That Should Be Divorced”
Original character alert! Meyers and Amy Poehler make a caustic pair as Dan and Sally Harrison (later Needler), a pair that stays together even though they make each other utterly miserable. Watching the future co-anchors play off one another in this early sketch is a treat, even if it’s also sort of awful to watch mom and dad fight.
6. “Zinger vs. Snap”
Another original creation: Dave “Zinger” Clinger is a scientist by trade, but an amateur insult comic at heart. His ultimate nemesis is Sheila “All Snaps” Alsnape, another burn dispenser played winningly by Queen Latifah. Most recurring SNL bits overstay their welcome, but I think we could have stood to see more of the Zinger. And by more, I mean less! Ba na na na na na na, zing!
5. “Britney & Kevin: Chaotic commercial”
Poehler and Meyers played a much happier couple in this all-too-brief spoof of Britney Spears and Kevin Federline’s ill-fated MTV reality show, which aired during a Top Model sketch starring host Lindsay Lohan. (How’s that for a 2005 time capsule?) There’s no video available, so you’ll just have to trust me: Their gross makeout was a sight to be hold.
4. “The Original Kings of Catchphrase Comedy”
Meyers plays “Boston Powers,” who wears an Austin Powers suit and a Red Sox cap. That’s the whole joke – but it’s a pretty good joke.
Meyers and his amazing hair costar in this 2003 classic, a parody of Punk’d-style practical joke shows gone horribly, horribly wrong. Christopher Walken’s gleefully violent prankster is the showier part – but everything about Meyers’s eager host Zack Ricky, from his glorious early ’00s outfit to the way he delivers the phrase “Stiffly Stifferson,” is a thing of beauty. [Bo-i-i-i-i-i-ing]
2. “Harry Potter: Hermione’s Growth Spurt”
A.K.A. the sketch that sort of ruins J.K. Rowling’s magical world, though it’s funny enough that you’ll hardly mind. Awkward, horny Ron, played by Meyers, is the perfect foil for Rachel Dratch’s pint-sized Harry Potter – and, of course, Lohan’s er, fully developed Hermione.
1. “Stefon’s Farewell”
Fine, I cheated; this sketch begins and ends at the Weekend Update desk. The best part of it, though, comes in between, when Meyers races away from 30 Rock and to a nearby church, which is stuffed with creatures from Stefon’s unbelievable nightclub descriptions. From imitating Dustin Hoffman in The Graduate to fighting off the real Anderson Cooper, the pretaped bit is Meyers’s finest SNL moment to date; leaving it off this list would be worse than going to Booooooooof and not seeing Gizblow, the coked-up gremlin.