Leave it to Seth Meyers, the sharp-witted host of NBC’s Late Night program, to utter what everyone was thinking but dared not say aloud at Monday’s typically boosterish presentation of NBCUniversal’s upcoming television shows—including the critically acclaimed This Is Us.
Onstage at Radio City—where a couple of thousand celebrities, advertisers, network execs, and others gathered for NBC’s Upfront show—Meyers told the crowd: “I have to say, for NBC, upfront week is off to a dramatic start… But it’s not surprising for NBC to be dramatic. We are the home to the No. 1 drama on television. A show that each week gives us twists and turns, heartbreaking reveals, and this season, the departure of a once-beloved character.
“I’m talking, of course, about ‘This Is the Today Show.’”
Meyer’s acknowledgement of the Matt Lauer not in the room provoked a roar of laughter that went on for quite some time, even as Meyers directed the crowd to give it up for Lauer’s replacement alongside Savannah Guthrie, long-time fourth-hour anchor Hoda Kotb.
“Everyone here at NBC is so proud of Hoda—although I’m not sure Kathie Lee is happy about it. I saw her drinking at 10 a.m.”
In another welcome instance of mischief-making and truth-telling, Meyers got another huge laugh with this joke: “NBC continues to produce highly rated musicals. NBC aired a live version of Jesus Christ Superstar this year starring John Legend… You know a network has some range when they have a black Jesus and Megyn Kelly.”
Kelly, the $23 million-a-year host of Today’s ratings-challenged 9 a.m. hour, had, moments before, appeared wordlessly with other NBC News, CNBC, and MSNBC personalities—who, after Lester Holt said a few encouraging words, couldn’t get offstage fast enough before the applause died down.
“NBC had a huge year thanks to the Super Bowl and the Olympics,” Meyers continued. “I realize that’s a weird thing to bring up because this year we don’t have either. It’s like a waiter coming over to tell you which specials they’re out of…
“Advertisers paid over $5 million for a 30-second ad at the Super Bowl this year, which is a lot. That is a lot considering Donald Trump only paid $130,000 to Stormy Daniels for the exact same amount of time.”
That quip also killed.
Meyers, of course, also did some industry-insider material during his five-minute routine, especially a series of jokes in which he lampooned network execs for rummaging through long-canceled shows from the 1990s with the thought of rebooting them.
“If you had a show from the ’90s and your phone didn’t ring this week, you must have been heartbroken,” Meyers said. “If there was ever a year for Season 4 of Veronica’s Closet, it’s now!”
He imagined desperate development execs attempting to discover if NBC’s storage facilities had kept the puppet star of ALF around from the 1986-1990 sitcom featuring a lovable extraterrestrial.
“Hey guys, ALF is back, and this time he’s a climate-change denier!”
Noting the success of the reboot of Will & Grace, Meyers mused, “I’m sure at least one exec at NBC said, ‘We can’t bring back the Cosby Show, right? Right?”