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Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

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June 10th, 2014
06:09 PM ET

Seth Meyers on why 'Late Night' is a better gig than 'SNL'

(CNN) – For Seth Meyers, a desk is nothing new. For seven seasons on "Saturday Night Live" his "Weekend Update" seat provided the perfect platform for joking about current events, and hosting some big name guests.

Now, Meyers is using those skills to fill a new chair as host of NBC's "Late Night." The job comes with more than a million viewers a night, five nights a week.

Fellow "SNL" alum Jimmy Fallon left the time slot in February to take over "The Tonight Show" an hour earlier.

"Obviously we just want to go out and do a good show every night. And if you do that, people will hopefully come. And if you do a good show and they don't come, then it's out of your hands anyways," Meyers said in an interview with CNN's "The Lead with Jake Tapper."

"Over the first two weeks if there was any sort of course correction on my part it was that realization that you tell a joke differently when you're standing there than when you do sitting behind a desk," Meyers said. The opening monologue "is the one part of the show that is so 100% yourself. There's no real help there."

Asked if he has ever had to feign interest in what the guest is saying, Meyers said, "I feel like it's only happened like five or six times that I've fully feigned... Part of our job is finding the thing we'd be interested in."

So far, Meyers debut season has been full of familiar faces, blurring the line between his old show and his new solo endeavor.

"I didn't know it was a better gig until I started doing it," said Meyers.

"SNL's a young man's game," said the 40-year-old. "This is a way better job for being a married person, because I actually get home at night."

Meyers is part of a new late night generation; Jay Leno and David Letterman made way for hosts Jimmy Fallon and Stephen Colbert this year.

But the late-late wars are not as competitive as the late wars.

"(SNL producer) Lorne Michaels has always said like the real competition is that hour," said Meyers. "You just try to do something that would make people stay awake for a few more minutes, that's the best approach."

With that goal, Meyers isn't afraid to take some risks. "Late Night" started a new franchise called "Second Chance Theater," showcasing "SNL" skits that did not make the final cut.

"I think we're proving that maybe there's some like logic behind why they didn't make the first cut," Meyers said. "But that's why "Second Chance Theater" exists ... I want to give it a place."

Speaking of giving questionable material a chance, last night Meyers welcomed CNN's Jake Tapper to his show, where he attempted a little, er, sketch comedy of his own.

Watch: Jake Tapper Draws a Caricature of Seth

Meyers' tips before the show proved invaluable.

"Do one voice," Meyers advised. "Try one of your voices, and then, you know, suss out how it's going with the audience."

So no Obama impersonation?

"I think this (i.e. backstage, and not on live television) is a perfect place to do that," Meyer said, laughing.

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