It was almost a mini "Saturday Night Live" reunion when Ben Stiller, Mike Myers and Seth Meyers sat down together on wicker furniture with moderator Michael Ian Black at the 18th Annual Nantucket Film Festival yesterday. The alumni bonhomie was broken up however, when Black pointed out that Stiller bailed after just five episodes.
Of the three "SNL" alums kibitzing at the Fifth Annual All-Star Comedy Roundtable - recorded for broadcast by Epix this fall from the Nantucket High School auditorium - Mike Myers was clearly the fastest wit onstage, with Seth Meyers in a close second. As the witticism flew, Ben Stiller at the back of the pack confessed, "I don’t enjoy getting up onstage for live television." The star/director who is putting the finishing touches on his adaptation of "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" starring himself and Kristen Wiig, may not have won any prizes for the night's quickest zingers, but revealed some eye-opening insights into his own life in comedy.
1. Stiller Explains His Brief "SNL" Career – and 'Blames' Myers
"The biggest lesson I learned was not to debut on 'SNL' the week after Mike Myers," Stiller said when asked what he learned from his short stint on the weekly show. "Mike had just come on and he was brilliant. I wanted to make short films like Albert Brooks. I was never comfortable as a live sketch performer. I had a character that was a Jewish frat kid that drank a lot of beer named Howie Cohen. It was not comedy genius. I’m watching Mike do the first 'Wayne’s World' sketch and I saw the Howie Cohen dreams fail."
Myers added the punchline, explaining that he had developed the sketch that grew to become a movie in itself on "It’s Only Rock & Roll," a Canadian TV variety show. “It followed ‘Ice Fishing Weekly,’” quipped Myers.
2. Mike Myers Names Jon Lovitz the Funniest Man He Knows
"Jon Lovitz is just one of the most naturally funny guys," said the spit-take loving comedian when asked who he thought was the funniest living human. The comic continued: "After Phil Hartman died (and Jon was very close to Phil), we went to the informal wake. I wandered around saying 'Can you believe Phil is dead? Can you believe he was shot with a gun?' And Jon said, 'Oh, come on, you’re making it sound worse than it was.'"
3. Seth Meyers Plays Favorites: He Has a Thing for Amy Poehler
When moderator Black asked Meyers who his favorite fellow "SNL" cast member is, the "Weekend Update" anchor rhapsodized about cast-mate Amy Poehler: "She’s one of the most confident people I’ve ever met. She was the captain of the group. She has a huge laugh and she was a huge laugher at other people’s things."
4. What Scares Seth Meyers about leaving 'SNL' for 'Late Night' in 2014.
"The part that’s scary is going from fifteen minutes on Saturday Night to every night for an hour," Meyers confessed. "But we’re going to have a ton of commercials."
Plans for the new show debuting in early 2014 are sketchy but Meyers said that "Late Night" is “an exciting piece of real estate already warmed up [by earlier shows]. That gives us a freedom to do something different. We’ll come up with a plan. I’d like to bring over some 'Weekend Update,' with written guests like Conan [O’Brien] did in the early years where actors-performers come on. I like being the straight man. And, if I get one talking dog I think I’ll have a hit."
5. How 'Saving Private Ryan' Spawned ‘Shrek’ for Mike Myers
Myers told the story of how he got the major cartoon gig as the Scottish-accented ogre at a screening for the super-serious WWII movie "Saving Private Ryan" directed by Steven Spielberg.
“I met Jeffrey Katzenberg at the premiere of ‘Saving Private Ryan,’" said Myers, who explained he was at that moment deeply affected by the movie, compounded by the fact that both his parents had lived through WWII. “Jeffrey came up to me and asked me if I would ever do a cartoon.”
Meyers paused for a beat, displaying the comic timing for which he's justifiably famous. “Shrek: it was the sound you make after 12 Molson Canadians. It had been written for Chris Farley and he had just died.” This was not an auspicious beginning for a project that had a very happy ending when it won the Oscar in 2002.
When asked by an audience member if he has a swamp in Los Angeles, and to answer in the voice of Shrek, Myers joked: “One might argue that LA is a swamp culturally and otherwise.”
That's a Wrap until Next Year's Nantucket All-Star Comedy Roundtable
As the event wound down, Seth Meyers shifted into "Weekend Update" anchorman mode ending the night on a note of dry irony, saying "Of all the island comedy panels, this was one of the best."