Why Personality Matters at the Weekend Update Desk

When Seth Meyers did his final Weekend Update newscast on February 1st, he retired from the desk as the longest-tenured anchor to ever hold the position. At 7.5 seasons, he comfortably passed Tina Fey and Dennis Miller, who held the gig for six seasons each. Throughout his run, Meyers was somewhat polarizing, mostly for, well, how un-polarizing he was. To some, he represented Safeness, a thinner, younger Jay Leno who thrived on apolitical humor, and refused to ever truly rock the boat. Others enjoyed his nerdy, boyish charm, and his legendary interactions with Stefon. But whether you liked Meyers or not, he stabilized the Update desk unlike anyone else. That's why his departure is such a big deal, and why Colin Jost, who takes Meyers place alongside Cecily Strong, has a difficult task ahead of him.

Since Chevy Chase did Weekend Update on the first ever Saturday Night Live episode on October 11th 1975, 21 people have had a gig at the Update desk (22 if you count the two episodes where Horatio Sanz filled in for a pregnant Tina Fey, but no one wants to remember that, so let's not). Some of them like Chase, Dennis Miller, and Norm MacDonald, are remembered quite fondly, while the likes of Brad Hall and Brian Doyle-Murray are barely remembered at all. Over the next few years, we'll see which group Jost and Strong wind up falling into.

So, what makes someone a good Update anchor? Obviously, the material needs to work, but what matters more is personality. On any given week, as the writers are throwing on their best jokes on the news of the week, some lines are going to work better than others. The key is having an anchor with a recognizable personality, who can sell the good jokes, and come up with a fast ad-lib during the bad ones. That's why the segment became so popular when Chase introduced it 39 years ago. Between his popular catchphrases ("I'm Chevy Chase and you're not," "Generalissimo Francisco Franco is still dead."), and his generally likable goofball personality, he wasn't just a generic news-anchor type who happened to be telling jokes, but an actual Fake News personality. READ MORE


How '@Midnight' Is Turning Its Internet Hook Into One of the Strongest Shows in Late Night

Considering the ever-expanding role that social media in our lives, it was only a matter of time before there was a television program named after a Twitter account. So when @midnight arrived in late October, it felt like a predictable Sign of the Times. What couldn't have been predicted, however, is how funny the show would be, or quickly it would find an audience. @midnight has only been on the air for eight weeks, and yet it already feels like an integral part of Comedy Central's lineup, having secured a 40-week renewal after strong ratings in its initial four-week run.

For the uninitiated, @midnight is a half-hour game show hosted by Chris Hardwick in which three comedians try to earn points (POINTS!) by competing in various internet-themed games. These games include things like Sad Etsy Boyfriends and OK Cupid or Serial Killer, which is exactly what it sounds like. After three acts, the comedian with the fewest points is eliminated, and the remaining two compete in one final showdown to determine who "wins the internet" for the next 23 and a half hours.

The show could've been much different than how it turned out: on an episode of Bill Simmons' B.S. Report podcast, Anthony Jeselnik mentioned that before he began work on The Jeselnik Offensive, Comedy Central had wanted him to host a four-night-a-week show that would air after The Colbert Report. It's not much of a stretch to think that @midnight is what that show became, and while Jeselnik is often hilarious, it's hard to deny that Hardwick is a much better fit. Jeselnik's deadpan-evil personality is perfect for his standup, but it wouldn't have translated to a game show that carries a such laid-back, friendly vibe. Hardwick combines Jimmy Fallon's charm with Jeselnik's willingness to "go there" and not play things super safe. READ MORE