Seth Meyers, Saturday Night Live Weekend Update anchor turned Late Night With Seth Meyers star, will host the Emmys for the first time on Monday, August 25th. Hosting television’s annual salute to itself is a tough gig. The jokes need to amuse both a room full of entertainment industry luminaries and the millions watching at home. If a musical number or comedy sketch falls flat, it'll be brutally mocked on social media. The ceremony inevitably runs long, forcing the host to adlib self-deprecating jokes about the slow pace.
Plus, the Emmys numerous repeat nominees and winners make for a ceremony that is inherently less exciting than the Oscars or Golden Globes. Though Meyers is accustomed to live television and has a minor league awards show — the ESPYs — on his resume, odds are he’s a little nervous. Fortunately, as CBS’s ten thousand variations on CSI prove, imitation is not a sin in television. All Meyers has to do to insure Emmy success is update and expand upon his talented predecessors’ most memorable moments. We have a few suggestions.
Open With A Star-Studded Sketch
Last year, Neil Patrick Harris began the show with a musical number worthy of Broadway. In 2009, Jimmy Fallon concocted a memorable Glee spoof in which he, the Glee cast and a group of TV stars sang Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to Run.” Since Meyers isn't a singer, he’d be wise to follow the path trod by 2012 host Jimmy Kimmel. He opened with a pre-taped sketch in which some of television’s best actresses, including Connie Britton, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and a naked Lena Dunham, helped him recover from a Botox overdose. Meyers brand of humor is more sophisticated, so perhaps a sketch that riffs on how Meyers has followed in Fallon’s footsteps for his entire career, with Fallon offering him hosting advice only to have two other former SNL Weekend Update anchors—acclaimed Golden Globe hosts, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler—interrupt to point out that if you’re really funny, you don’t need an elaborate opening sketch.
Spoof His Image
Last year, Neil Patrick Harris starred in a sketch in which his friends staged an intervention because they were concerned about his addiction to hosting awards shows. Meyers is not nearly as well-known as Harris. He’s only hosted his talk show for a few months. And people who aren’t Saturday Night Live fans may not have even heard of him. Meyers could do a sketch mocking his lack of fame, perhaps man-on-the-street interviews with people who have no idea who he is, or a focus group who ranks him dead last as a potential Emmy host behind Kourtney Kardashian and the shark from Sharknado.
Wear a Costume
Ridiculous outfits are a tried-and-true way for an awards show host to get laughs. At the 2001 Emmys, Ellen DeGeneres donned a replica of the infamous swan dress Bjork wore to the Oscars that year. There are plenty of recent television fashion statements ripe for Meyers’s parodying: the Westeros couture worn by the men of Game of Thrones, Walter White’s Hazmat suit from Breaking Bad, or the hideous late 1960s men’s fashion from the most recent season of Mad Men. But if Meyers really wants to make a timely sartorial reference, he should watch the MTV VMAs which takes place just a day before the Emmys. It’s a safe bet that someone will wear something completely ludicrous that will be ripe for parodying.
Create a Social Media Moment
Social media tie-ins have become an important part of awards ceremonies. This year’s Emmy telecast already has its own viral promotional video, featuring Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul, and Julia Louis Dreyfus spoofing the numerous pawn shop reality shows. In 2012, Kimmel had Tracy Morgan lie down on stage and instructed viewers to tweet, “OMG Tracy Morgan passed out onstage at the Emmys.” The bit didn’t work that well, perhaps because starting a false rumor that someone is ill or drunk isn’t particularly funny.
However, DeGeneres raised the social media bar at this year’s Oscars when she tweeted a star-studded selfie that broke Twitter retweet records. The obvious way for Meyers to up the ante would be a live Ice Bucket Challenge featuring the few celebrities that haven’t already dumped ice water on their heads to raise funds for ALS research, which could be instantly posted on YouTube. However, by next week that schtick may be played out. So Meyers should work with a few Emmy nominees — let’s say Jon Hamm, Stephen Colbert, and Christine Baranski — to create a hilarious, extremely short comedy bit that could become the most watched Vine ever.
Acknowledge Real-World Events
Meyers has the misfortune of hosting an awards show right after a difficult week for America. With both the protests in Ferguson, Missouri and the tragic murder of a U.S. journalist by ISIS terrorists looming large in the nation’s mind, Meyers will have to perform the high-wire act of acknowledging the events while keeping the tone of the evening light. Meyers can take his cues from DeGeneres who hosted the 2001 Emmys, which were postponed due to September 11 and the 2005 Emmys which took place shortly after Hurricane Katrina. In 2005 she joked, “I guess I don't have to point out that this is the second time that I've hosted the Emmys after a national tragedy and I just want to say that I'm honored. Because it's times like this that we really, really need laughter. And be sure to look for me next month when I host the North Korean People's Choice Awards."
With Meyers's years spent joking about the news, expect some biting lines in his opening monologue that everyone will be quoting the next morning, or maybe even a special Emmy edition of his “Really?” Weekend Update segment...
Really? Yeah, really.