tv Late Night With Seth Meyers NBC April 8, 2017 12:37am-1:39am PDT
♪ [ cheers and applause ] >> jimmy: my thanks to jennifer lopez, jeff probst, depeche mode once again. [ cheers and applause ] and the roots right there from philadelphia, pennsylvania. [ cheers and applause ] stay tuned for "late night with seth meyers." thank you for watching, have a a great night. hope to see you tomorrow. bye, bye, everybody! [ cheers and applause ] ♪
[ cheers and applause ] ♪ >> announcer: from 30 rockefeller plaza in new york, it's "late night with seth meyers." tonight -- craig ferguson, from "imaginary mary", actress and comedian rachel dratch, author george saunders, featuring the 8g band with fred armisen. ♪ [ cheers and applause ] ladies and gentlemen, seth meyers. >> seth: good evening. i'm seth meyers. this is "late night." how is everybody doing tonight? [ cheers and applause ] oh, man, that's great to hear. in that case, let's get to the news. well, congrats to president trump on creating the least popular bill since cosby. [ laughter ] [ bill cosby impression ] "tryin' to move on with my life,
but you keep makin' me" -- [ light laughter ] after the republican plan to replace obamacare failed, president trump will reportedly focus on overhauling the national tax code this week. yeah, the tax code is a mess. i mean, just look at trump's taxes. somebody, please. [ laughter ] somebody put eyeballs on them. [ cheers and applause ] white house press secretary sean spicer said today that president trump came to washington to get things done. that's why five minutes into every meeting he says, "are we done?" [ light laughter ] president trump met today for a roundtable discussion with female small business owners. and they were all pretty upset when one of them won. [ laughter and applause ] is that what this has been the whole time? is that why we're here?
north carolina, oregon, south carolina, and gonzaga will play in the march madness final four next weekend. and if you picked all four of those teams, no, you didn't. [ light laughter ] president trump, yesterday, made his 13th trip to a golf course since taking office. hey, man, you're the president. my only job is making fun of you and i don't even have time to play golf. [ cheers and applause ] for real -- for real, you play golf like you're trying to complete a punch card. [ light laughter ] "one more and i get a free meatball sub." democrats recently introduced the making access records available to lead american government openness act or mar-a-lago act. [ light laughter ] hopefully, next up is the improvements to monetary policy and easy access to community health act. [ cheers and applause ]
new research has found that most cats prefer human interaction to food. said their owners, "so would i." [ laughter ] and finally, a new study has found that a supplement that has been known to help erectile dysfunction may also help treat sleep apnea. the way it works is, it keeps you from rolling over in your sleep. [ laughter and applause ] ladies and gentlemen, we have a great show for you tonight. three of my favorite are here. he's got a new show on sirius xm comedy greats. craig ferguson is here, everybody. [ cheers and applause ] always such a pleasure to talk to craig. she's one of my best and oldest friends. she's starring in abc's "imaginary mary." the fantastic rachel dratch is here tonight. [ cheers and applause ] also, and i'm not just saying this about all our guests tonight, he's absolutely one of my favorite writers going. writer of a great new novel, "lincoln in the bardo" -- i loved it. george saunders is here.
[ cheers and applause ] so honored, so honored to have him here. a year ago today was a sunday. getting ready. i was getting ready for monday's show and we had to cancel it, because my wife gave birth to our baby boy. so it's his birthday, everybody. [ audience aws ] [ cheers and applause ] there we go. i didn't see -- he did not -- he did not inherit his father's love of hats. [ light laughter ] but he's a good boy. and i'm going to miss him. shipped him off to military school this morning. [ laughter ] he has to learn. look, he had a great free ride, but now it's time to get to work. [ light laughter ] but mostly, though, thank you to my beautiful wife for giving me this lovely gift a year ago today. so, yeah, you can give it up for her. [ applause ] well-earned. moving on, the trump white house today tried to move on from the collapse of their health care bill. but that could be difficult given what we now know about trump's supposed deal-making
skills and the gop's ability to deliver on its promises. for more on this, it's time for "a closer look." ♪ [ cheers and applause ] >> seth: donald trump was successful in the presidential campaign because he billed himself as an outsider and a pragmatist. he told voters he wasn't a traditional republican, but a businessman with one very specific skill. >> we need a president that's going to be able to make deals, great deals. i want to make great deals, that's had an it is, for the people. i do hundreds of deals. the deals come out of my ears. if we had somebody that could get people into a room, sit down for two hours and knock heads together and get a good deal done. if you can't make a good deal with a politician, then there's something wrong with you, you're certainly not very good. with congress you have to get everybody in a room and you have to get them to agree. you have to get people in, grab 'em, hug 'em, kiss 'em. >> seth: of course knowing where trump likes to grab people, that might have been part of the problem. [ audience ohs ] [ cheers and applause ]
i personally can't wait for those hearings. "congressman, show us where on the doll the president tried to make the deal." [ light laughter ] health care was the first test of trump's supposed deal making skills and it went up in flames. so, what is trump's team saying now about his inability to get a deal done? >> i think the one thing we learned this week is that washington was a lot more broken than president trump thought that it was. >> seth: that's right. washington is just a lot more broken than donald trump thought. and to be fair, he didn't really know the system. >> nobody knows the system better than me. [ applause ] which is why i alone can fix it. >> seth: the only part of that sentence that turned out to be true was the shrug. [ laughter ] "everyone's going to have great health care." [ laughter and applause ]
and yet, even in defeat -- even in defeat, trump's team continued to insist the man who claimed he could fix washington had done everything he could to get a deal. >> has he done every single thing he can possibly and used every minute of every day that's possible to get this thing through? then the answer is yes. >> seth: that's right. trump used every minute of every day to get this bill passed. like on thursday, when republicans were desperately trying to cobble together enough yes votes, and trump was doing this. [ applause ] [ laughter ] >> seth: looks bad, but maybe he was talking to paul ryan on the cb radio. "breaker, breaker, this is big rig. let's put the hammer down on this health care deal. come back." [ light laughter ] and then there's the republican party. they campaigned on this for seven years, ran on it in four consecutive national elections and voted on it more than 60 times in congress. and now it turns out that was all just one big con, calling into question whether the republican party is even a
serious governing party capable of getting things done. and even republicans are starting to admit that it might not be. like florida congressman tom rooney who said, "i've been in this job eight years and i'm racking my brain to think of one thing our party has done that's been something positive, that's been something other than stopping something else from happening." eight years. eight years and you can't think of one positive thing republicans have done. [ applause ] that's like a doctor giving a speech at his retirement party and saying, "huh, now that i think of it, every patient i treated died." [ light laughter ] to me. now the media has been giving most of the credit for the defeat of this bill to a group of hard line conservatives known as the house freedom caucus. but let's remember, that there were as many as 30 moderate republicans who were likely to vote no on this bill. and the credit for that goes to the protesters and activists across the country who put tremendous pressure on republicans through town halls and calls to congressmen not to back this bill. >> we are going to pass the bill and we're going to repeal obamacare. [ audience booing ]
[ crowd chanting ] >> i would like everyone who is affected by the affordable care act and affected by health care to stand up. [ cheers ] >> before i came over here to speak with you, i counted my call log. i have 275 constituents who asked me to oppose this bill and only four who have asked me to support it. >> seth: who were the four people who called to support this bill? "okay, guys. [ laughter and applause ] i need you to call as many members of congress as you can. ivanka, don, tiffany -- you tell them you're calling on behalf of the president. and eric, i don't know, just say you're a concerned citizen." [ laughter ] so now that the deal making skills trump spent the entire campaign bragging about have turned out to be a complete sham, is the president at least willing to admit that he failed to deliver on a key campaign promise? of course not. >> and i never said, i guess i'm
here what, 64 days? i never said repeal and replace obamacare. you've all heard my speeches. i never said repeal it and replace it within 64 days. >> seth: that's right. trump never said 64 days. he said one day. >> on my first day i am going to ask congress to send me a bill to immediately repeal and replace disastrous obamacare. we will do it very, very quickly. we're gonna do it simultaneously. it'll be just fine. it's going to be so easy. it'll be repeal and replace. it will be essentially simultaneously. but we'll most likely be on the same day or the same week, but probably the same day. could be the same hour. >> seth: "it could maybe even be the same minute or the same second or nanosecond. in fact, some people say that time is the fourth dimension in which case, through the theory of relativity it technically could have already happened. [ laughter ] which would mean in an alternate
universe, we've already repealed and replaced obamacare. [ cheers and applause ] it's gonna be easy, you're welcome. you're welcome." in fact, not only is trump now trying to claim that he never promised to replace obamacare quickly, he's trying to claim it wasn't even really his idea, telling the washington post, "i was a team player and i had an obligation to go along with this." you can't use the team player defense after you just said this the day before. >> in an interview just out with time magazine, the president talked about his wiretapping claims against president obama. and in an answer about questions of his credibility, he responded to the reporter, "i guess i can't be doing so badly because i'm president and you're not." [ audience ohs ] >> seth: "unless my health care bill fails, in which case you can be the president. [ laughter ] are you the president now?" in fact, trump seems to be looking for literally anyone else to take the blame for the collapse of the health care bill he enthusiastically supported, like house speaker paul ryan who crafted the bill. trump instigated yet another absurd washington drama over the weekend when he cryptically
tweeted, "watch judge jeanine on fox news tonight at 9:00 p.m." why did trump plug a fox news show that he'd only ever mentioned once before? well, she opened the show with this. >> paul ryan needs to step down as speaker of the house. this is not on president trump. no one expected a businessman to completely understand the nuances, the complicated ins and outs of washington and its legislative process. >> seth: not only is she saying what trump wants to hear, she's saying it the way trump wants to hear it, slow and with a thick new york accent. [ laughter and applause ] paul ryan needs to step down! also, people did expect trump to understand the process. do i have to remind you? >> nobody knows the system better than me. [ light laughter ] >> seth: look at that face. that's like the freeze frame of
a '90s sitcom dad at the end of an episode. [ laughter ] you almost expect credits to roll. >> nobody knows the system better than me. ♪ [ laughter and applause ] >> this has been a conway-spicer production. [ laughter ] >> sit, spicer, sit. good dog. [ barking ] [ laughter ] >> seth: so is trump's tweet to watch judge jeanine a thinly veiled shot at ryan? trump's team tried to tamp down the speculation. >> does the president want paul ryan to assign as speaker? >> i think it was more coincidental, chris. >> oh, come on. why would say watch her, and then that's the first thing out of her mouth? >> because he loves judge jeanine and he wanted to do judge jeanine a favor. >> i asked the press secretary why the president was tweeting about a particular show, he said he likes the show. >> seth: trump's team is now defending him by saying he likes to recommend tv shows. [ light laughter ] "mr. trump, tell us about your
health care plan." "well, just check out tonight's episode of 'the walking dead'." [ laughter and applause ] so trump may be looking for a scapegoat. but he also doesn't seem too disappointed about his and his party's failure to deliver on their central campaign promise. a reporter for politico tweeted on friday, "white house officials and advisors say trump is not that upset. he was far angrier about inauguration crowd size." [ light laughter ] trump was more upset about crowd sizes than failing to deliver on one of his key campaign promises. donald, don't you have any shame? ♪ [ applause ] >> seth: this has been "a closer look." ♪ [ cheers and applause ] we'll be right back with craig ferguson, everybody. [ cheers and applause ] ♪ struck.
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i'm a people person. (drumming resumes) ♪ [ cheers and applause ] >> seth: welcome back. give it up for the 8g band, everybody. [ cheers and applause ] also, always so exciting to have him here. give it up for fred armisen, everybody. [ cheers and applause ] always so good to see you, buddy. >> fred: great to see you. >> seth: and one of my favorite things about having fred here is we catch up on everything we've been up to. fred is such a busy person, which is why i'm so impressed with this.
despite working on this show, despite working on "portlandia" -- you have so many things going on. yet you watch so much television. >> fred: everything. [ light laughter ] >> seth: and i sometimes worry though that you're just saying that to impress people. >> fred: not at all. i watch everything, i love it. >> seth: so i heard you saying backstage that you watched every second of march madness this weekend. >> fred: i sure did. [ laughter ] every second. >> seth: and that surprised me, because i know you not to be a sports fan. >> fred: but march madness i just love. >> seth: so what were some of your take a ways this weekend? >> fred: i think st. louis is doing great. they're really like like -- [ laughter ] they're -- i think, you know, as far as defense goes, i like their strategy, as far as, you know, just kind of laying back a little bit. and i think the first quarter, they really sort of like -- they were sort of hiding. [ light laughter ] and it was just such a surprise like --. at the last quarter, like -- was it -- is it davidson? >> seth: yeah. >> fred: just came out like a lunatic. he was a lunatic. and that's what i love about him. >> seth: and you -- what i like is you actually have your own
catch phrases when things happen during the game. like every time somebody hits a three pointer, you say really loud -- >> fred: give it to all of us! [ laughter ] you know, 'cause it's more for the -- my opinion, football is for the crowd more than anything else. [ laughter ] i mean like, give it to us as the crowd. [ light laughter ] >> seth: give it to all of us! >> fred: yeah, i -- [ applause ] >> seth: give it up for fred armisen, everybody. our first guest tonight is a very funny comedian you know from his time on "the late late show." he hosts "the craig ferguson show", which aires week days on sirius xm's comedy great channel. please welcome back to the show our friend craig ferguson, everybody. [ cheers and applause ] ♪ >> oh, this is so -- this is so nice to be here.
>> seth: it's great having you back.e >> it's really nice to be here and see how "late night" progressed. and it's all coming along great. can i just say, fred, it's so good to see you. >> fred: hi. [ light laughter ] >> i don't know if i entirely agree with your analysis on march madness, but that's not what i'm worried about. i'm worried about the size of your microphone. you see the size of that? it seems a little stubby. [ laughter ] you see it? i think they're short changing you. microphones used to be longer. that's like a little amputee microphone. [ laughter ] >> fred: yeah. yes, thank you! >> yeah! [ laughter ] that's fred armisen. that's not just anybody. do you know what i think is so great? that you're not -- seth, you're not known as -- for impersonations. that's not your thing. >> seth: no! >> but you've been doing trump so much, you do a really good trump now. >> seth: thank you. [ applause ] yeah. >> really good! >> seth: turns out if i just take any person and done them every day for 500 days, i would learn. >> like if i was still doing late night, trump would have to sound like sean connery or i'd be ruined.
[ light laughter ] >> seth: now, i want to ask about this, 'cause i've heard you say that that is the one thing that you lament, is you don't have your late night show in the trump era. would you -- would you think it would still be exciting to be doing it? >> well, i lamented when i heard he was running. >> seth: right. >> like when i heard trump was going to run, i'm like, "oh, come on!" [ light laughter ] >> seth: yeah. >> but then after a couple of months, i'm like "oh, no, thanks a lot." because you have to deal with that every night. >> seth: oh, yeah. it wears you out. [ light laughter ] >> yeah, no -- i don't know if i could do it. i don't know if i could do it. i really don't. because you have to. but -- like and everybody -- i'm now angry at people i agree with. like they say things i agree with and i go on, "oh, shut up!" [ light laughter ] that's how i talk all the time. sorry. >> seth: i feel that well, just now, it's very common to be at dinner with people where someone will just say, "let's just not, let's just not talk about it." >> yes, that's right. everybody's trying behaving like it's thanksgiving dinner. like for two hours we're going to behave like a normal family! >> seth: yeah, right. >> that's the way it is. and that's kind of how i'm trying to do it right now. like on the radio show, i try not to talk about it.
but of course we end up talking about it. >> seth: i want to talk about your radio show. i did it last week. it was a delight. >> you were -- you were the -- you were amazing. >> seth: oh, stop. >> no amazing! >> seth: don't oversell it. >> look, i'm not gay, but i wanted to have sex with you. >> seth: thank you. [ laughter and applause ] >> you were amazing. >> seth: i got that. >> i did! >> seth: i was getting -- >> and i know, like, you're happily married and i'm happily married. and you're not gay and i'm not gay. but i was thinking, let's start a tickle fight and see where it goes. [ laughter ] >> seth: yeah. well this is interesting, because we did it here in new york. this was an away game for you. >> yeah, 'cause usually i do this show in my -- i wasn't going to do a daily show again. but my wife was like, "you should really get out of the house." [ light laughter ] and i said i don't want to go and do all that, but sirius said they would a radio studio in the shed at the bottom of the my garden. so that's what i do. it's a 15-second commute to work, naked -- >> seth: wow! >> walking! [ light laughter ] >> seth: but you still have guests, so you can't be fully naked. >> oh, okay. i guess. [ laughter ] i guess, mr. tv i wear pants to every single show. [ laughter ] no. i mean, i wear sweatpants if larry king is on or something.
but other than that, no. [ light laughter ] >> seth: for the high -- for the "a" listers like larry king. >> yeah, yeah. an "a" lister, you're like, "hey, how you doing?" it's good -- i think it's good, it relaxes the guests when they see my nipples. >> seth: there you go. [ light laughter ] >> and they see -- when you look at me now, you think, that is a man in amazing shape. but you're wrong. [ laughter ] i've got -- i've got little pockets of fat here and there. >> seth: just little ones. >> just little pockets of fat. >> seth: and over the course of the interview they can find them all. >> they move! [ light laughter ] yeah, it's a scottish thing, they travel around. >> seth: interesting. do you -- >> does that excite you, seth? [ laughter ] >> seth: a little bit. moving pockets of fat. does that excite me? do you have callers on your show? >> yeah! we -- this is the thing about doing the show live, which of course this is too, but the -- but the -- [ laughter ] but it's actually live, so you can say to people call -- i always get the number wrong and say 1-800-mattress. but some people do call. and a lot of them are truckers, because it's drive time. >> seth: right. >> and i'm kind of surprised that the high -- i don't know what the actual numbers are for
transgender people in the community at large. but amongst truckers it seems to be very high. >> seth: really? >> yeah! we're getting a lot of transgender truckers calling in, which i'm delighted by. >> seth: yeah, that must be a fascinating slice of the populous to talk to. >> well, it certainly has moved the dial for me in terms of, you know, my preconceived notions of truckers. i did not expect them to have a large welcoming area of transgender life. but they do. >> seth: well, that's fantastic. >> i know! >> seth: these are the things you find out. >> i know. >> seth: we talked the other day, i can't remember what day of the week it was, wednesday, thursday -- something like that. >> it's a blur to me. >> seth: and then afterwards, you were very excited, because you were going to a hockey game. it did not strike me that you are -- are you a huge hockey fan? >> i love the sports the way fred does. i can't get enough. [ light laughter ] i can't get enough. >> seth: and you -- as a lover of sports you should have known that madison square garden would cut to you at some point during the game. >> i didn't think that much of myself. >> seth: 'cause they did cut to you and that's not the most flattering -- [ laughter ] >> yeah. well, to be fair, i was smelling my fingers.
[ light laughter ] and -- yeah, come on. >> seth: okay. >> yeah, you see? kind of pineapple-y. yeah, i know. it's nice. do you enjoy the sports as well? >> seth: i do enjoy the sports. >> do you go to madison square garden? >> seth: i do go to madison square garden. i actually feel like -- 'cause sometimes they'll like cut to you, like they'll go around to people who are recognizable, and they'll stay on you too long. >> yes. >> seth: the camera stays on you for a full eight seconds and you just sort of have to go like -- [ light laughter ] it's awful. >> that's how i did my late night show. i'm fine with that. [ light laughter ] >> seth: you have never -- you weren't going to blink. you're like, "keep it here all game." >> do you now what's weird, though? when you do a radio show and that stuff happens, you can't go anywhere. like nothing's being said and you're just like -- [ light laughter ] it can get weird. >> seth: i want to ask about this, because obviously you're scottish, and scotland -- >> really? >> seth: scotland has this
relationship with donald trump -- >> they don't seem to care for him very much. i will say that. >> seth: he owns a -- even before this thing, he owns a lot of -- >> well actually, i was a member of a golf club, because i like to play the golf every now and again. just, you know, once every now and again. >> seth: right, to maintain your citizenship. your scottish -- >> one hole maybe every two or three years. >> seth: okay, got you. i was a member of this golf club and then trump bought this golf club. and now i don't know what to do. because one part of me is like, "well, that's it!" then another part, "well, it's a pretty good golf club." >> seth: yeah. >> yeah, so i'm torn. >> seth: when did you know he was going to win? >> the very first debate. >> seth: okay. >> very first debate. when i saw him with jeb bush -- because remember jeb bush? >> seth: barely. >> those were innocent times, weren't they? [ laughter ] jeb, in that debate -- remember in the debate where jeb bush said, hey, you said something naughty about mexicans. now, apologize to my wife, 'cause she's mexican. and trump went, "nope." [ light laughter ] i was like, "jeb, you have painted yourself into a corner." you now, you said to a man apologize to my wife, that man said no. now you have to hit them.
that is in the constitution. >> seth: yeah. >> and he didn't. and then i knew trump was going to win. >> seth: wow. >> no self doubt. none. >> seth: and none even now. >> nope. he's got people around the world calling him names, people here, people abroad, people like you every night. he's like, "i am awesome." >> seth: yeah. [ light laughter ] >> i really actually admire that. i want to have that. >> seth: oh, what i wouldn't give! >> yeah, i'd be like -- can you imagine the amount sleep you get at night? "well, i was awesome again today, good night everybody." [ laughter ] awesome! [ applause ] >> seth: well, something for us both to aspire to. thank you so much for being here. >> always a pleasure. >> seth: always a delight to see you. [ cheers and applause ] craig ferguson, everybody. "the craig ferguson show" airs weekdays on sirius xm on the comedy greats channel. we'll be right back with rachel dratch. [ cheers and applause ] ♪
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>> seth: our next guest is a very funny comedian and actress you know from "saturday night live" and films such as "sisters" and "just go with it." she voices the imaginary friend in the new series "imaginary mary", which premiers wednesday night on abc. let's take a look. >> table side guac coming your way, senor. >> hola! don't go loco on me girl. mary's back to help. >> what the -- holy -- >> i know, how cool is this, right? they make it right at the table. >> kids? huge step. you're spinning out bad. that's why you dug me out of your brain. but don't worry, we'll handle it together. >> this isn't happening. >> it's just an appetizer. are you okay? >> he's on to you! pick up your phone like you have a work emergency! >> work emergency! >> some public relations guys need my help with some pr stuff, i've got to go. >> seth: please welcome to the show our very good friend rachel dratch, everybody. [ cheers and applause ] ♪
>> seth: hi, dratch. >> hi! >> seth: it's so good to see you. >> you too, good to see you. >> seth: this is very fun. you are now playing the -- you are the voice of an imaginary friend. >> yes. it's the role i was born to play. >> seth: this is -- >> a creature. >> seth: a creature? >> fuzzy creature, yes. >> seth: it's a cute creature. >> yeah, yeah, yeah. >> seth: there you go, yeah. >> yeah. >> seth: it's very cute. >> mm-hmm, yeah. [ audience aws ] aw, come on. >> seth: and did you enjoy -- did you do a lot of background work on imaginary friends before you found the voice? >> no. >> seth: okay. [ light laughter ] >> no, i just went in the booth and, you know, laid down some tracks. [ laughter ] >> seth: it must be fun, though. getting to just go in the booth. >> it's super fun. yeah, it's really fun, because you know, you just have your voice. >> seth: yeah. >> it's a fun -- it's a fun way to -- i don't know what i'm saying. [ laughter ] it was really fun, though. it was really fun. >> seth: that's great. >> that part's true. >> seth: i want to ask, because it is my great life's delight to talk to you about your son eli. >> oh yeah, okay. >> seth: your beautiful son eli. he's six and a half now? >> yes, yeah. six and a half, yeah. >> seth: and you are a great mom, because you like to -- you take advantage of new york city. you share the arts with him. >> i do.
he likes going to shows and stuff. >> seth: but you usually take him to shows for kids. >> i've taken him to a couple of kids' shows. >> seth: uh-huh. >> and then i had this idea. because, when i was little -- okay, i saw the movie "fiddler on the roof." okay? and it kind of sent me off on a musical theater geekdom. like i had the record -- so "fiddler on the roof" was about to close. so i had this thing, like, "i got to take him to 'fiddler on the roof'." right? >> seth: yeah. >> so, you know -- >> seth: first here -- i just before we get how it -- very excited. >> that's the before. >> seth: there he is, look. [ audience aws ] very excited. >> he's very cute. >> seth: "fiddler." >> but that was the before picture. >> seth: okay. >> okay, so the -- [ laughter ] so, go to "fiddler." it's about to close. paid full price. and so then there i am. and it's like part way through, it's like "tradition." okay, he's into it -- da da da. and then like about halfway through the first act he's starting to get squirmy, and he turns to me, he's like "i want to leave." [ laughter ] and i was like, oh, but just -- you just -- and then i realize, like, this isn't so great for kids. it's like about forbidden love. >> seth: yeah, right. >> and marrying outside your religion. [ light laughter ] he's not really going to like that very much. but then like, it's
intermission, he's like, "okay, let's go." i'm like, "no, just stay for the second act, it will be shorter." so then the second act starts, and one of the characters says to the other on stage, like "i have to leave you." and he turns and he's like, "i have to leave this show." [ laughter and applause ] yeah. then another character's like, "i must say goodbye." he's like, "i have to say goodbye to this show." [ laughter ] anyways, it ends, we go outside, it's dark out, because it was a matinee in the winter. and he starts crying. he's like, "you made me waste my whole day." [ audience aws ] and, i was like, "i'm sorry." he didn't have any time to play. he was not pleased with it. i said, "why didn't you like it?" he's like, "it was boring and sad and boring." >> seth: well. [ laughter ] >> that was his review. now, i'm still a fan of it. but i learned my -- that was my mom theater fail. >> seth: okay, well that's all right. >> yeah. >> seth: i know -- last time you were here you told us his favorite food is ihop. that's his favorite restaurant. >> yes. he loves ihop. >> seth: you do not like taking him to ihop. >> i don't like ihop. >> seth: so -- >> which i said last time and they sent me a gift certificate. but anyways. [ laughter ] but anyway -- [ laughter and applause ]
and now i love it. but, so i told him, "okay, we can go to any" -- we were going to go out to eat. i was like, "we can go anywhere except ihop." and then he goes, "all right, let's go to jekyll & hyde." and i was like -- ugh. if you know, there's a restaurant here, jekyll & hyde. it's like, the food is wonderful. [ laughter ] but also there's like, you know -- >> seth: it's like -- >> dudes in dracula costumes coming up to you. and it's my second least favorite place. >> seth: yeah. >> gift card! [ laughter ] but anyway it's my second least favorite place to eat in the city. and -- but i had told him anywhere, so there i was at jekyll & hyde. >> seth: and you kept your word. >> i kept my word. then, i was with my parents, and aftewards -- we have, like, new york city restaurants, there we are at jekyll & hyde. but then afterwards, there's this bar, marie's crisis, kind of across the street. which is like a gay piano sing-a-long bar. and i was like, "oh, my god, we would all love this." so, i thought eli might like it. so we go across the street. and tried to get in to the piano bar. but you can't bring a kid into a bar. [ laughter ] so he's -- >> seth: by the way, i'd like to
point out, he seems to be the only one who suggests age appropriate things. [ laughter ] he's like, "jekyll & hyde!" you're like, "no, 'fiddler' and then a gay bar!" [ laughter ] >> touché, touche. that was good. >> seth: his -- taste in restaurants, though, might not -- you might have passed a generation. because you were telling a story about your mom told you -- >> yes, i saw -- >> seth: you went home and she told you. >> i saw my mom over the weekend. and she told me this funny story that -- about ten years ago my parents and another couple were going to go to the theater in boston and they were looking for a place to eat beforehand. and apparently there's a new mexican restaurant that had opened called chipotle. [ laughter ] and my mom called up chipotle to make reservations. [ laughter and applause ] yes. i just found this out! but she called them, and she was like, "hello, we would like a reservation for four, please." and the person was like, "umm, okay?" [ laughter ] so then they drove up and they saw -- and they didn't eat at chipotle. gift card.
[ laughter ] totally kidding. i'm totally kidding. >> seth: and, this is very exciting. you guys have an alexa. >> oh, yeah we have an alexa. yeah, we just got it. >> seth: and eli likes it. >> eli likes it a lot. you know, eli is an only child. so sometimes he has to talk to alexa, much like an imaginary friend. but he has alexa tell it jokes. alexa will tell you jokes. alexa will sing to you. and -- >> seth: he put a wig on it? >> he put a wig on alexa. [ laughter ] yeah. >> seth: and they get along well. >> they do get along well, yeah. >> seth: that's fantastic. >> yeah. >> seth: like i said, i want to option all of eli's stories to be a premiered here. >> yes. >> seth: on this "late night" show. because i never get tired of hearing about him. and i never get tired of seeing you. thank you so much for being here. >> thank you. thank you. [ cheers and applause ] >> seth: rachel dratch, everybody! "imaginary mary" premiers wednesday night on abc, check your local listings. we'll be right back with george saunders. [ cheers and applause ] ♪
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♪ [ cheers and applause ] >> seth: welcome back, everybody. our next guest is a multi-award winning bestselling author. his highly anticipated debut novel, "lincoln in the bardo", is in stores now. please welcome to the show the great george saunders. [ cheers and applause ] ♪ >> seth: so wonderful to see you again. >> nice to be here. >> seth: so this is -- i --
we've talked about this before. everybody knows who lincoln is. but the bardo is a term that people aren't familiar about. >> right. >> seth: or with, i should say. >> yeah, it's a tibetan term that just basically means "transitional zone." so in the book it refers to that zone that starts the minute you die and it goes to whatever happens next. >> seth: and this is -- you based this on a story you heard about when lincoln's son died, very young. lincoln visited him in the crypt twice in a night. >> yeah, that was in the newspapers at the time that he had been so heartbroken, that he went there several times to hold the body. >> seth: and so you decided -- this was years ago you heard the story. >> mm-hmm. >> seth: and you decided to write your first novel about this. >> yeah. >> seth: and there aren't a lot of characters really in that story, there's just one grieving father and a dead body. and so explain to us how you filled this out with characters. >> right. well, i mean in art, you know, one of the things that helps you is when you get a problem like that. like -- all right, so you've got lincoln in the graveyard at night. who is the narrator? it could be like lincoln, but
then you're like, "four score and seven minutes ago." >> seth: yeah. >> "i did come into yon graveyard." and you know. or it could be like a, you know, a grave digger who is staying late, or something. you know, like, "why?" so yeah, i'm just practicing. >> seth: yeah. [ light laughter ] >> so, then, but, what often happens is, when you run into a problem like that, it's a great -- it really is an opportunity. so for me it was like, "well, who is in a graveyard at night? a ghost." you know? so i kind of stumbled on this idea of a, kind of, greek chorus of these kind of unhappy spirits who are stuck there, some of them -- mostly they don't know they're dead. something happened in their life that made it impossible for them to sort of go on peacefully. yeah. >> seth: and i always think it's important when i tell people about this book, because you know, the pitch is very sad. >> mm-hmm. >> seth: this is a story about a grieving abraham lincoln. but you created all these ghosts, and they're very comic characters. is that when you went into it? i know your style is often to bring humor into things. did you think, when you first heard that story about lincoln, did you think, "oh, there's going to be some laughs in there?"
>> yeah, no, i did not think that. you know it's actually -- in a way, i think, making a book is a bit like riding a bike. you know, you front load a story with that much sadness and at some point it just gets unbearable, and you look around for something else to do. so you're kind of -- you know, the reader is like in, like an intimate communication with you. she's looking at you and she's like, "dude, your story is too sad." you know. "you're harshing my buzz here." so then you say, "all right, i know, i know." and it's in that moment of saying "i know" that you can correct. so you're -- you've got your eye on the reader, you're thinking very highly of her. and when you start getting tired of the sadness, she is too. then you just put your finger on the scale a little bit and lighten it up, a bit. you know. >> seth: you talk about, i've heard you say this a lot, the common architecture between the writer and the reader, and how you're making this connection. and sometimes, you know, obviously i read this book and now i can talk about it with you, but some people connect with writers that are -- have been dead for hundreds of years. >> yeah. >> seth: and yet they've found that common architecture. is that just -- are you constantly listening for that
reader and thinking, "oh, i hope that what i'm writing here is true enough to the human condition that it will resonate in a hundred years?" >> yeah, i think what you're really -- what i do is i kind of imagine -- well two things. one, i'm writing for me. if i hadn't already read it a million times, so would i still be in it? would i still be moved by it. the other thing you're kind of doing is you're always trying to elevate the reader in your -- in your own -- in your mind. so in other words, the first draft is often the character's down here and you and the reader are scoffing down at him. so you're disrespecting the character, but you're also kind of disrespecting the reader in a way. you know, you're saying, you won't mind being kind of condescending to this character. so, i see the revision process as, i'm trying to bring the character up in my mind so i like him better, so i love him more. and then when you see me doing that, you come in a little too. so in the ideal case, it's kind of a sort of, three-way respect-fest where we're all kind of manifesting our best selves, in a certain way. you know. >> seth: well the example used -- if you don't mind doing it for us. is that bob --
you basically had the sentence, like, bob was an ass[ bleep ]. >> right, right. >> seth: to a barista. >> yeah. so i mean, often in a first draft, you just throw something down. and usually your -- the character's little. so you start off with, just "bob was an ass[ bleep ]." all right. i mean, there are such people in the world. you know -- [ light laughter ] so then -- but then the god of fiction kind of goes, "how so?" [ light laughter ] you know? and so then you say, "all right, all right, all right. bob was an ass[ bleep ] because he snapped at the young barista." and the god of fiction goes, "oh, okay. why do you think he did that?" and again, you just apply, quickly, "bob snapped at the barista who reminded him of his wife, his dead wife." and suddenly, just with a few little moves, he's gone from an ass[ bleep ] to a guy who loves his wife so dearly that when she died, he couldn't even function well enough to be nice to a young person. so that's what i mean. now, suddenly bob has come up in my mind. you saw me elevate bob and you think better of me. so, suddenly we're in this kind of little troika of mutual
respect. it's quite pleasurable. >> seth: it's very nice. >> yeah, it's nice. it's nice. [ light laughter ] >> seth: and all i'm doing is reading it, yet you've made me feel better about myself. >> right. >> seth: so thank you. [ laughter ] i definitely -- >> that's what i'm here for. >> seth: i did the least amount of work. i didn't have to write it. i didn't have to be an ass[ bleep ] to a barista, so -- [ light laughter ] you talk a lot about revising and the importance of a writer revising. talk about the example of just, and again, to make you use your own example, of how jane walked into a room and sat on the couch, and how you can take that down. >> yeah, so the thing is, when you're on the reading end of a book, i give you a sentence. you kind of know what i think of you by what that sentence is. so, let's say i start off rather sloppily with, "jane walked into a room and sat down on the brown couch." it's a perfectly workable english sentence, but somehow when you hear that you kind of feel, like, "eh, all right." you know. so what i can do to show you respect is start to trim the crap out of that sentence. so, for example, is it necessary for jane to come into the room if she's going to sit on the
couch? no, it's totally implied. so you cut that. jin -- or "jane sat down on the brown couch." okay. better. could she sit up on the brown couch? not really. cut that. then you've got, "jane sat on the brown couch." kind of getting into like hemingway-land, you know? then you say, "okay, well, why does the couch have to be brown? that's not meaningful." cut it. "jane sat on the couch." and then, if you're like me, and i have this really active inner nun, you're kind of like, "why is it meaningful that she sits on the friggin' couch?" [ light laughter ] so you cut that. [ laughter ] and you just have jane. >> seth: yeah. [ laughter ] >> but -- >> seth: and then you go to work. >> but you don't suck yet. but, that is a way of conveying respect. you're saying to the reader, "i know you're as smart as i am, as worldly, as experienced, as good-hearted, so i'm not going to waste your time with phrases that haven't been considered, basically." >> seth: well, i've never read one of yours that didn't seem considered. thank you for this fantastic book and everything that came before it. >> thank you. [ cheers and applause ]
>> seth: it's so heart-breaking, but so funny. >> thank you. >> seth: it's always such a pleasure to see you. george saunders, everybody. [ cheers and applause ] "lincoln in the bardo" is in stores now. we'll be right back. [ cheers and applause ] ♪ degree has redefined deodorant with motionsense technology... so that i can redefine... power... footwork... range... and the more i move, the more it works. giving me superior protection... on, and off, the court. degree. it won't let you down. woman: so this happened. zoe brought over some lime-a-rita's to ava's rooftop and that's when we knew it was going to be one of those nights. that's elyse busting out her dance move from summer of '08.
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[ cheers and applause ] >> seth: my thanks to craig ferguson, rachel dratch, george saunders, everybody! [ cheers and applause ] fred armisen, and of course the 8g band. [ cheers and applause ] stay tuned for carson daly. see you tomorrow. [ cheers and applause ] ♪ ♪ ♪ >> carson: hey folks. it's carson daly here. another edition of "last call." thanks for being here. skylark is where we're at in new york. here's what we got tonight. for our spotlight, "time after time" star genesis rodriguez