By Alan Pergament
When jokes in his "Tonight Show" monologue bombed, the late Johnny Carson used to try and salvage them by cracking that you are in trouble when you have to explain them.
This came to mind a few times during the premiere edition of NBC's "Late Night with Seth Meyers" early this morning.
Meyers had to spell out a few jokes in his monologue, which got the show off to a very slow start that it never really recovered from.
Let me explain something. I really wanted to love Meyers' premiere.
He's been one of my favorite co-anchors on the "Weekend Update" portion of "Saturday Night Live," delivering his dry lines with exquisite timing.
However, he looked awkward doing standup material on the premiere to the point that I wondered if the jokes would sound funnier and he would be more comfortable if he was off his feet and behind a desk next to a female co-anchor as he was on "SNL." I mean, who says a monologue has to be performed standing up?
After that, he engaged in some banter with band leader Fred Armisen of "SNL" fame, who jokingly claimed his busy schedule included doing a show for The History Channel that would be called "Recent History" and deal with things that happened an hour earlier.
It sounded like a rejected "SNL" sketch and should have been rejected this time as well.
After Meyers told a long, unfunny story about his wife getting a man to change a tire as he waited in the car with their small dog, the best bit of the night followed.
It was something called Venn Diagram Jokes, in which two very different things have something in common. In one of Meyers' examples, snow and toilet paper were "things you won't find in Sochi."
In another Venn Diagram, Russia and the NBA were "places more gay-friendly than Arizona."
Then it was up to first guest and former "Weekend Update" co-anchor Amy Poehler to save the show. She tried her best, jokingly telling her pal that he was up to the challenge because "I have watched you for 13 years pretending to listen to people."
After that, it was time for Meyers to pretend to listen to Vice President Joe Biden, who could be a Venn Diagram with Meyers. They are very different but they have one thing in common -- great pretend smiles.
I'm not going to pretend the premiere met my expectations.
Meyers has a very quick sense of humor and is very likable but nothing happened on his first show that said "you have to watch or DVR this show every night."
I'd probably recommend watching a pretend episode of Armisen's "Recent History" over watching Meyer's premiere.
He lost half the lead-in from "The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon," but got a decent audience in Buffalo for his premiere. It had a 2.7 rating on Channel 2, beating CBS' "Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson" with a 2.3.
That doesn't spell instant success. However, as with Fallon's new "Tonight Show," it is a marathon and not a sprint for Meyers and things can only improve once he gets his footing.
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