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Seth Meyers brings charm and energy to 'Late Night'

Vice President Joe Biden appears on

Vice President Joe Biden appears on "Late Night" for an interview with host Seth Meyers on Feb. 24, 2014, his first day as host. Credit: Peter Kramer/NBC

Seth Meyers began his run as only the fourth host of that other NBC late-night franchise Monday, and if the launch was more of a comfortable jog than a flat-out run, that was OK, too. There's promise here -- and there's also work to be done.

His charm and native exuberance intact, Meyers was an utterly familiar figure, delivering a monologue that could have doubled as a "Weekend Update" -- a topical rat-a-tat of jokes that rounded up the usual suspects, or usual for this moment in time -- Arizona's proposed anti-gay legislation, the Olympics, and that apparently evergreen subject, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford.

It was all merely OK, but Meyers demonstrated the presence of mind to know the difference between what worked and what didn't: "Our first sort of bomb," he said at one point to crickets. "I'll take it."

A bit more mystifying was Fred Armisen, former "Saturday Night Live" cast member and now band leader of late night's newly minted house band. His role is obviously a work in progress. Will he in time become "Late Night's" resident Paul Shaffer or maybe "Tonight's" Steve Higgins or some variation of a character from his series "Portlandia?" He was all three last night.

Then there were first guests Amy Poehler and Vice President Joe Biden, who offered no substance nor was expected to. Poehler -- a FOH, or Friend of Host -- was her usual terrific self. The vice president genially explained some gestures at the recent State of the Union, and allowed Meyers, who clearly wants to push "Late Night" to a place it's somewhat traditionally unaccustomed to going -- current events -- the full spotlight.

When asked about a run in 2016 he playfully deflected with this: "I planned on making a major announcement but I decided that tonight was your night."

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