Lloyd Bishop/NBC


Late Night Chats

Comedian Seth Meyers gets candid on family, goats, and giving back to the Island community.

Late-night mainstay and up-Island summer resident Seth Meyers first charmed audiences as head writer of Saturday Night Live and host of the show’s Weekend Update segment. Now, he courts laughs every weeknight as the host of Late Night with Seth Meyers on NBC. When he’s not skewering the latest headlines or chatting with the Hollywood stars of the moment, Meyers unwinds on Island shores with his children and wife, Alexi Ashe, who grew up summering on the Vineyard. For the past several years, he’s also hosted the Possible Dreams fundraiser, which benefits Martha’s Vineyard Community Services.

Martha’s Vineyard Magazine caught up with Meyers in advance of his fourth turn at the Possible Dreams podium, which takes place July 23 at the Winnetu Oceanside Resort in Edgartown. Here, he talks about his first impressions of the Vineyard; his father in law’s Island-famous pet goat, Raisin; and why former President Barack Obama shouldn’t hold out for an invitation to his next big bash.

MVM: Your wife, Alexi Ashe, and her family are longtime Vineyard summer residents, and you had your wedding here at Chickemmoo Farm in 2013. What was your first introduction to the Island?

Seth Meyers: I grew up in New Hampshire; we went when I was young, so I have no memory of the first time I went. With my wife, it was like our third date. I lived in New York and she lived in L.A. We’d gone out a couple times – you know, the beginning of a long-distance relationship. Then she said, “Hey, do you want to come out to the Vineyard for the weekend?” I did, and it was really great, because I think her whole family was on their best behavior. I just thought, “Wow, what a chill family. You know, they never argue.” And then by the second time I went, they revealed their true selves.

MVM: Third date, that’s really jumping in.

SM: It was an aggressiveness. She wanted me to come for the whole weekend, I will say. I think I was like, “Oh, I’ll come Saturday,” because I was like, “I’m not sure I want to do a full Friday to Sunday.”

MVM: That’s so funny. How have you adapted to Vineyard living since?

SM: It was pretty easy to adapt to Vineyard living. The most special thing now…is that our kids are spending their summers there. That’s what [Alexi] had growing up. That’s when it really gets sort of baked into your DNA, how much you love the place. And so our boys, they just talk all year long about how much they’re looking forward to going to the Chilmark Community Center and going to those events and doing all the things that they’ve now learned to love, that my wife grew up doing as well. That part is the best – seeing it through their eyes is really exceptional.

MVM: Seven years after his death, many on the Vineyard are still mourning Raisin, your father in law’s pet goat, who you talked about on David Letterman’s show and helped eulogize in the Vineyard Gazette. Tell me a little bit about your relationship with Raisin. Were you ever intimidated by him as the pet of your father in law?

SM: Oh, I never cared for Raisin at all. The only part of Raisin that provided any value to me – and it was an immense value – was that he made for great talk show fodder when I got to recount his tales on the David Letterman show. But Raisin was almost everything you would expect a goat to be: deeply stubborn, a head that was often used for butting…the eyes of the devil. Petting Raisin was like running your hand over a Brillo pad. There’s nothing I would recommend about having a pet goat.

MVM: No redeeming qualities at all?

SM: I will say he made my father in law very happy, and my father in law deserves all the happiness in the world. So, if there was one upside for Raisin, it was how much Tom loved Raisin.

MVM: Is there a new goat in Tom’s life?

SM: No. I will say, Tom is a friend of all animals. He’s a little bit like one of the Disney cartoons. Is it Cinderella where all the birds just sort of follow her around? Sleeping Beauty?

MVM: Snow White?

SM: Yeah, Snow White. Tom’s a lot like Snow White. When he walks through the forest path, the birds come and land on his shoulders. And if there’s any other beasts that are unique to the Island, they tend to walk in his path…I will say, thank God for my mother in law, because I think she might be on Team Anti-Goat with me. If I stood alone, I think there’d probably be another goat.

MVM: So there are goat factions in the family.

SM: Look, I love to go visit a goat at the Ag Fair in the pen where they belong, whereas Tom had his in the backseat of the car with me. That is, I think, the proper distance you want for a goat.

MVM: Bold words. Moving on, this is your fourth year hosting the Possible Dreams fundraiser, an auction to benefit Martha’s Vineyard Community Services. When did you first get involved with the event and why is it important to you?

SM: I’m glad you said four. I was trying to remember. I guess this is the fourth, right? I think the first time I did it was on Zoom. That was a year when everybody had such an appreciation for the Island because it was a sanctuary for so many people during this really awful time. It was the easiest thing in the world to say yes to the opportunity of being able to give something back. It was less dynamic of a night because it was all via Zoom. But after that, I felt like I was in, and everybody was so appreciative. And, you know, it wasn’t like it was a hard time for me. It’s been nice to continue to try to do anything I can do as a way of saying thanks to the community that exists on the Island.

MVM: Following Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’s migrant stunt last September, you shouted out the work of Martha’s Vineyard Community Services on your show. Normally, when you mention the Vineyard, you’re swapping funny anecdotes. What was it like to treat the Vineyard in more serious, political terms?

SM: Knowing the people behind the organization, knowing how much they care not just for the people on the Island but mankind in general, humankind in general – I feel like there was a miscalculation by Ron DeSantis. Obviously, it really doesn’t matter, because the people who thought what he did was funny or fitting are not the kind of people who are gonna actually dig into how the migrant families were treated when they got to Martha’s Vineyard. But it was nice to be able to say from experience that the community services organization looks out for everyone.

MVM: During that same segment you joked that you didn’t score an invite to former President Barack Obama’s big sixtieth birthday party on the Island. What do you think it’s going to take to get an invite to his next big party?

SM: Well, now, I don’t even know if I’d go. You know, at some point you have to have a little dignity. You have to have a little self-worth. Because again, I wasn’t even on the big list when they had to cut down to the small list [due to Covid restrictions]. So, yeah, maybe I’m gonna have a big, big old party. And I think the bigger question is, “What do they have to do to find their way on our list?”

MVM: In that kind of spirit, you do a great segment on your show called Day Drinking, in which you get drunk with a guest. In Day Drinking, Martha’s Vineyard edition, where are you going and who are you drinking with?

SM: I mean, I feel like there’s the “you go to the beach, and you have some drinks with Larry David, and you two talk about how little you like being at the beach.” I feel like that’s maybe a lower-energy version, but probably the one that would more naturally fit my actual feelings about the beach. And then I guess I’m trying to think of who the most fun person to have a drink with on Martha’s Vineyard would be…oh, I guess the Ukeladies. I don’t know if you’re familiar with the work of the Ukeladies; it’s my mother in law’s ukulele band.

MVM: Oh, yes, I was going to ask.

SM: Okay, they’re really taking off. They’ve had a meteoric rise. And so I think going out with the Ukeladies just for that – the combination of drink and song would be a wonderful time.

MVM: Do they have any big shows planned for the summer?

SM: You know, it’s very awkward for me right now because I will ask my mother in law, “Do you have any big shows coming up?” and she’ll say things like, “I’m gonna tell you what I tell all our fans: go to the website.” I find it very rude because I am one of their earliest supporters. And I will say right now in print that I do think it’s gone to their heads. But you can’t argue with the music.

MVM: Wow, no special treatment.

SM: No, none.

MVM: I was at your stand-up show at the Chilmark Community Center last summer. Are you planning any other surprise shows yourself?

SM: I would like to do one. It was such a nice thing last summer. We haven’t mentioned yet that currently I’m not doing a show because there’s a writer’s strike, which makes me even more desperate to get up in front of people and do material. One of the nice things about recent years is having had this pre-existing friendship with Amy Schumer, and she and I have been out. It’s been nice for us to go up and get a chance to do new material and also have it be a way to raise money for things like the community center, or a couple of summers ago we got to go down and do a charity event [at the Tabernacle in Oak Bluffs for the DJ Henry Dream Fund]. We get something out of it too. It’s nice to be able to provide some entertainment for people on the Island, and especially even more so when all the money goes to things that could use it. We’ll probably try to get up and do some shows in the summer, but we haven’t decided yet.

MVM: Great, I’ll definitely look out for that.

SM: Was it pretty…was it uncomfortably hot then? I thought it was.

MVM: It was all right, only because I had been there when it was hotter.

SM: Yeah, that’s the way to put it.