Seth Meyers considers himself more of a bear than a rabbit.
You’re probably scratching your head right now. But it makes sense when you put it in the context of the late-night talk show host’s new children’s book, “I’m Not Scared, You’re Scared!” (Flamingo Books, 40 pp., out now).
The book’s two main characters are animal friends: Bear, who is terrified of everything, and Rabbit, who is terrified of nothing. Bear accompanies Rabbit on an adventure, only to return home after his fears mount too high. He ultimately overcomes his anxieties when Rabbit’s overconfidence puts her in danger and she needs his help.
“I am a longtime bear,” Meyers, 48, says over a jovial Zoom call, adding, “I am married to a rabbit.” Meyers has three children with wife Alexi: Ashe, 5; Axel, 3; and Adelaide, born last year.
“The oldest one’s a little bit bear, middle one rabbit, baby too early to tell,” he says of his kids, who inspired him to write the book.
“Once you have kids, you start thinking about fear a lot more,” he says. “You, as a parent, have a whole new relationship with fear and you have these kids who are processing it. I wanted to write a book about what people are scared about, what maybe they’re right to be scared about and also make it an adventure that kids would want to engage with.”
Ultimately, it’s helpful to be part-bear and part-rabbit. But having people lean toward one or the other in a family works.
“My wife is so helpful in telling me to relax at times when I am not having fun due to things I am frightened of,” Meyers says. “And I think I am helpful as well, every now and then, when I tell her ‘Hey, maybe just for safety sake, we do this.'”
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When you’re a parent, you’re afraid for your kids all the time, Meyers says. Outside of parental worries, Meyers says he’s terrified of heights.
“I’m so clumsy that I feel like even if I’m a long way from the edge of a building, there’s a series of trips that could happen to me where I would just jackknife over the side,” he says.
Outside of his family, the two things Meyers loves most are writing and running.
“I feel like I can’t do one without the other,” he says. “I need to run to clear my head to write. And when I’m writing, it’s that having gone on a run clears out all the clutter and makes me a little bit more clear-headed.”
Meyers’ life might seem memoir-worthy, with his writing and “Weekend Update” tenure on “Saturday Night Live,” not to mention his “Late Night With Seth Meyers” talk show. But he demurs at the idea.
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“I don’t know if I ever want to write a book about myself. Here’s the thing: I already got a TV show that has my name in it,” Meyers says through laughter. “I feel like if I wrote a book about me too people might say, ‘All right, that’s more than enough out of you.'”
The late-night host’s acerbic jokes followed him from his “SNL” days to his own show. One recurring segment on the series – “Jokes Seth Can’t Tell” – features members of his writing staff Amber Ruffin and Jenny Hagel. Meyers reads the joke setup and Ruffin and/or Hagel read the punchlines. Meyers understands that jokes about underrepresented communities – like Black women or lesbians – require more thoughtfulness about who’s delivering them.
“It does matter sometimes who’s telling the joke,” he says. “The idea that ‘if a joke’s written so well, anyone can tell it,’ is not necessarily true. Because it sounds different coming from different people.”
Meyers remains confident about the tone of his show, which has aired on NBC since 2014, even when discussing serious news topics like the Ukraine-Russia conflict.
“We’re trying very hard to focus more on the domestic reaction, the media reaction to it, as opposed to trying to pretend to be experts about a part of the world that if we’re being honest, we don’t know anything about,” he says. “We’re learning about it the same way everybody else is now. It’s that horrifying geography lesson where you only learn about towns when they’re under bombardment.”
The show takes the news day by day – and Meyers has no clue, like the rest of us, what the world might look like come the midterm elections this November.
“We’re living in this time right now where I don’t think you have to worry about preparing for anything,” he says. “I think the only thing you have to worry about is to be prepared for anything.”
Meyers must also prepare for another recurring segment on his show where he day-drinks with celebrities like Rihanna and Lorde. But who would he have on next?
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“Is (Vladimir) Putin a bad answer? I just think he needs to relax,” Meyers jokes. “If I did 12 shots of tequila with him in a two-hour period, we could maybe get to the bottom of why he’s doing this other thing. Just to distract him.”
But really: Cardi B tops the list. He “still never had her on my show. She’s so funny. She’s genuinely a deeply funny person.”
Speaking of (other) funny people: Meyers has been texting with Amy Schumer, who’s set to host the Oscars later this month with Regina Hall and Wanda Sykes.
“Those are three very funny women, and I’m deeply looking forward to what they’re going to say,” Meyers, a self-described lover of awards shows, says.
He thinks of himself as a bear – but he sounds like a rabbit to us.
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