Seth Meyers kicks off 'Late Night' gig with Amy Poehler, Joe Biden

Producer Mike Shoemaker takes part in a panel discussion about "Late Night with Seth Meyers" at the NBC portion of the 2014 Winter Press Tour for the Television Critics Association in Pasadena, California, January 19, 2014. REUTERS/Gus Ruelas

By Chris Michaud NEW YORK (Reuters) - Seth Meyers stepped into his new role as host of NBC's "Late Night" talk show on Monday, welcoming comedian Amy Poehler and Vice President Joe Biden while delivering on a promise of a quirky program that still closely follows the basic formula for late night chat. Meyers launched his "Late Night" venture with a nod to the show's previous host, appearing to write a thank you note to Jimmy Fallon for moving to his Manhattan-based "Tonight Show" gig, which debuted a week ago. Meyers and Fallon both cut their comic teeth at "Saturday Night Live" before ascending to highly visible late night talk show hosting duties. And while the new "Late Night" honored the talk show tradition of opening monologue, followed by banter with the band leader and comic sketches leading up to light-hearted chat with guests, some of Meyers' material ventured well beyond the usual, well-worn pop-culture fodder. In one notably arcane reference, Meyers joked that among his competitors, PBS' Charlie Rose was featuring "the 100th appearance" by Doris Kearns Goodwin. Safe to say that cracks about Pulitzer Prize-winning American historians are not what 21st-century network television audiences have come to expect. Introducing what seemed to be intended as a recurring bit, the show presented a "Venn Diagrams" segment, harking back to high school math classes, in which two overlapping circles highlight commonality between two seemingly unrelated ideas. One example: the overlap of snow and toilet paper - "things you won't find in Sochi," where the Olympics just concluded. While his monologue featured a more rapid-fire delivery than other such hosts, it featured such topical issues as the Olympics, singer's Bjork's odd sartorial style, 7-11 chain stores, Taco Bell, and the reality show "The Bachelor." Meyers, 40, the oldest host in the history of the show which has also been helmed by David Letterman and Conan O'Brien, has also stated he wants the show to offer a mix of guests from actors and athletes to writers and politicians, and Poehler's and Biden's appearances on Monday bore that out. Meyers and Poehler tapped into their well-established on-air chemistry honed during the years they spent together anchoring the Weekend Update newsdesk on "Saturday Night Live." Poehler then engaged in a bit of mock-role play with the new host, pretending to be a boring guest. Meyers joked: "We have faked chemistry so well" in the past. Meyers joined "Saturday Night Live" in 2001 and left earlier this year after having served half his tenure as head writer. Biden used his time on air to make a pitch for a pet cause of encouraging U.S. train transportation, while Poehler referenced her work with Biden on her sitcom, "Parks and Recreation," saying they would next "do 'Snakes on a Train.'" The vice president also addressed his political future in a joking manner, stating "I had planned on making a major announcement tonight, but I decided tonight's your night," adding: "I hope you will invite me back." "Late Night with Seth Meyers" will appear Monday through Thursday on NBC at 12:35 EST a.m. (0535 GMT), with guests during the first week ranging from actor Patrick Stewart to hip-hop artist Kanye West to author Robyn Doolittle. (Reporting by Chris Michaud; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)