Kennedy Center hosts ‘Don’t Tell Seth! An Evening with the Seth Meyers Writers’

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews 'Don't Tell Seth!' at Kennedy Center (Part 1)

You might recognize him from the Sonic “Two Guys” commercials or as a frequent host of “Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me!” But did you know he wrote for many years on “Late Night with Seth Meyers,” who was also the best man in his wedding?

Now, Peter Grosz brings “Don’t Tell Seth! An Evening with the Seth Meyers Writers” to the Kennedy Center for a pair of comedy shows this Friday and Saturday night.

“We decided to put this show together to bring our hidden talents out from behind the shadows and into the public eye,” Grosz told WTOP. “The idea behind it was just a chance to perform live. A lot of other shows have done stuff like this, ‘The Daily Show’ writers have done it, Conan O’Brien’s writers have done it. … We wanted to put together a more polished show with written material that didn’t make it to the air for Seth’s show.”

Grosz will join other former and current writers from late-night show, including John Lutz, Matt Goldich, Jenny Hagel, Jeff Wright, Allison Hord, Ben Warheit and Ian Morgan — many hailing from the Upright Citizens Brigade comedy group.

“It’s like a variety show,” Grosz said. “I co-host with John Lutz, so we come out and introduce the concept of the show. … We have a couple people doing standup, we have some structured improv. … People can see monologue jokes like Seth would tell in the show written live on stage in front of them based on suggestions from the audience, then sketches of people either playing characters or themselves that are pre-written.”

Born in New York City in 1974, Grosz befriended Meyers in college at Northwestern University in Illinois before performing together at the ImprovOlympic in Chicago and the Boom Chicago in Amsterdam.

“I’ve known him for over 30 years,” Grosz said. “He’s a very good friend, he was the best man in my wedding. … I don’t know if those jokes would have played anywhere else. He would not tell jokes about the mustache I had when I got married on the air, but he did have some choice material for me at my wedding.”

Upon moving to New York, Grosz wrote for Comedy Central’s “The Colbert Report” from 2007 to 2010, while Meyers was the head writer for NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” and also hosting the “Weekend Update” segments.

“It was great, it was really fun,” Grosz said. “We had a bunch of other friends from Chicago who were also writing from ‘SNL,’ John Lutz wrote for them at the time. … It was just kind of a nice, really wonderful time where we all happened to be successful and in the same city, which is very rare, and to all be working at the same time on the same types of shows, it was lovely, it was great.”

After taping their respective shows, they would compare proverbial notes out on the town in Manhattan.

“I went to a lot of ‘SNL’ tapings just because that’s a fun chance for a bunch of friends to see a particularly fun show and then go out; those ‘SNL’ after-parties last until the sun comes up,” Grosz said. “‘The Colbert Report’ was on every day, so it wasn’t a special event when that was on, but it was more just hanging around, I had a kid at the time and I lived blocks away from Seth, so he met my kid and played in a park in the West Village.”

When “Late Night with Seth Meyers” launched on NBC in 2014, Meyers hired his old pal Grosz as a writer.

“When he was doing ‘The Colbert Report,’ Colbert was playing a character … sort of this Bill O’Reilly blowhard pundit, so writing for that character was very different than writing for Seth,” Grosz said. “They’re both very generous bosses and fun to work for. Stephen was more performative, he could sing and dance and wanted to do big spectacle things, but Seth, that’s not his style, he focuses more on the joke, wording and timing.”

Today, the entire business model of late-night TV has changed with viral videos on social media.

“It’s entirely different,” Grosz said. “Nobody watches these shows live anymore. I watch them more when I’m traveling on the road or on vacation. … I can’t say it’s a change for the worse necessarily because the shows are still on, they’re still popular, they still hold some cultural currency and sway, the work that’s being done is really high, so I can’t say that late-night overall is worse or anything, it’s just a different packaging.”

You might even recognize Grosz’s face, having played Sidney Purcell in 12 episodes of HBO’s “Veep.”

“‘Veep’ was fantastic,” Grosz said. “I was very fortunate to be in the first season when they were establishing a lot of the world outside of her immediate staff. … I got in early enough that they found there was a lot of utility in this scummy, oil lobbyist being used as a foil or as an example of the darker side of D.C.”

Now, he can perform in front of those very same lobbyists (and regular folks) at the Kennedy Center.

“If any of them want to pay money to come see us, they’re more than welcome,” Grosz said.

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews 'Don't Tell Seth!' at Kennedy Center (Part 2)

Listen to our full conversation on the podcast below:

Get breaking news and daily headlines delivered to your email inbox by signing up here.

© 2024 WTOP. All Rights Reserved. This website is not intended for users located within the European Economic Area.

Jason Fraley

Hailed by The Washington Post for “his savantlike ability to name every Best Picture winner in history," Jason Fraley began at WTOP as Morning Drive Writer in 2008, film critic in 2011 and Entertainment Editor in 2014, providing daily arts coverage on-air and online.

Federal News Network Logo
Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up