Published on October 29th, 2009 | by Sharilyn Johnson


Wednesday Night Live: Seth Meyers drops by Spirits

Seth Meyers at Spirits in Toronto. Photo by Sharilyn Johnson

Seth Meyers at Spirits in Toronto. Photo by Sharilyn Johnson

Seth Meyers at Spirits in Toronto. Photo by Sharilyn Johnson

Seth Meyers at Spirits in Toronto. Photo by Sharilyn Johnson

Famous people don’t live in Toronto — they only visit. So when Seth Meyers dropped in to the Spirits open mic on Wednesday night, it was a full-on event.

It was Tuesday evening when Jo-Anna Downey chatted with the Saturday Night Live star & head writer after his hosting duties at that night’s Stand Up for Kids fundraiser in support of SickKids (the night also featured Lewis Black and Mike Wilmot, among others). Meyers and his SNL writing colleague, Colin Jost, were taking advantage of their week off and staying in town a little longer, looking for a smaller stage to do some time on. Meyers was talkin’ to the right person — Downey runs 2 popular weekly booked open mics in the city, including the long-running Wednesday night stage at Spirits.

Those of us who’d been given the heads-up about this possibility treated it as just that: a possibility. Spirits was packed and rockin’ last night, as is the norm, and thoughts of potential famous guests were shuttered to the back of our minds as comic after comic thoroughly killed. But slightly beyond the halfway point of the night, it was official: Seth and Colin were in the building.

Surprisingly, the guys didn’t rush to get on stage, do their sets, and bugger off. They hung out in the back, waited for the scheduled comics to finish, and then did their thing (Downey recalled a different scenario when Lewis Black and Robin Williams dropped in together, going up first and leaving a post-apocalyptic comedic mountain for the remaining comics to climb).

Meyers started his brief set by stating he would compare which was the better room: the previous night’s Winter Garden Theatre, with it’s inexplicable leaf-covered ceiling; or the unglamorous Spirits, which is the only stage of the two where you’re “distracted by traffic” due to the large side windows looking onto busy Church St. (In the end, he chose the Winter Garden. For shame!)

I didn’t attend the previous evening’s fundraiser, so I couldn’t identify whether Meyers was working out anything new. It sure seemed tight to me, but if you told me he was doing fresh material, I probably shouldn’t be shocked that he would churn out 5 minutes that’s perfectly written before it ever sees an audience.

From what I’m told, Meyers and Jost approached the details of this “booking” with an amount of graciousness and consideration far beyond what’s necessary for performers of their status. If you’re a fan, you’ve chosen wisely.

(Additional photos will be added to the set on Flickr throughout the day.)

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About the Author

is the author of the book Bears & Balls: The Colbert Report A-Z. Called "one of the city’s most discriminating comedy critics” by NOW Magazine, Sharilyn has been covering comedy for longer than she cares to admit. She served as the comedy reporter for Winnipeg's Uptown Magazine for five years, and was the host of the radio show Laugh Tracks for three seasons. Her work has also appeared in the Toronto Star, the Winnipeg Free Press, The Apiary, and on CBC Radio's national comedy programs LOL and Definitely Not the Opera.

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