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Meyers' hit 'The Awesomes,' with voices by all-star 'SNL' cast, airs in Canada

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You might say Seth Meyers is on an awesome roll.

The 40-year-old host of NBC's "Late Night with Seth Meyers" is just coming off his well-received stint hosting "The 66th Primetime Emmy Awards." He'll be in Toronto at the end of the month to host the closing gala at the JFL42 comedy festival (Sept. 18-27). To top it all off, the animated superhero series he co-created and stars in, "The Awesomes," is finally coming to Canada. The series makes its North American television premiere Thursday on Teletoon at Night.

When does he sleep?

"You're making a point that my wife often makes," Meyers joked from his office at 30 Rockefeller Plaza in Manhattan. The former "Saturday Night Live" head writer and Weekend Update anchor can see starting a family "in the near future" and so he's hitting the road "while I can."

"The Awesomes" is already a hit in the U.S. on Hulu, where a third season has been ordered. The comic book-inspired series follows a group of misfit superheroes who step in to replace a disbanding "Justice League"-like super team.

Meyers voices Prock, a super-smart if otherwise ordinary hero with limited powers. (His big thing is he can stop time.) He steps up to lead the group after his famous and all-powerful dad, Mr. Awesome (voiced by "The Tonight Show" announcer Steve Higgins), decides to retire.

Teletoon sent reporters an "officially licensed" action figure of Prock. "I'm not ashamed to say I'm looking at one sitting on my desk," says Meyers. When it is pointed out that the doll has a familiar, crooked grin, Meyers agrees that it is "very accurate to my own off-balanced face."

"Ages 14+" is marked on the doll packaging. "Gosh, that implies that it is anatomically correct," jokes Meyers. He says the show is aimed at adults, not the doll.

"The Awesomes," which was co-created with Meyers' "Late Night" producer Mike Shoemaker, boasts an all-star lineup of "Saturday Night Live" voices: Bill Hader, Kenan Thompson, Taran Killam, Cecily Strong, Bobby Moynihan and Rachel Dratch, as well as former "SNL" writers Higgins and Emily Spivey along with current writer Paula Pell.

Meyers kids Killam is the closest he has to a Canadian in the cast; Killam is married to Vancouver native Cobie Smulders ("How I Met Your Mother").

Hader voices arch villain Dr. Giuseppe Malocchio. "We're very lucky to get him," says Meyers, who used to duel with Hader's flamboyant Stefon on the "SNL" Weekend Update desk. "As with everyone on the show he's doing us a huge favour."

Guest voices include even more "SNL" alumni, including Will Forte, Amy Poehler, Kate McKinnon and Maya Rudolph.

Meyers says the idea for "The Awesomes" was cooked up several years ago. "Working at 'SNL' was a lot like working on a superhero team where everybody had different talents-slash-powers," he says. The animated project "kicked around for a while at a couple of different networks" before settling at Hulu when the streaming video subscription service got into the original content game.

"They were willing to let us tell the kind of stories we wanted to tell," says Meyers. "When you're doing a passion project, you want to keep the integrity of the idea."

While he watched Saturday morning cartoons such as "Super Friends" growing up in New Hampshire, Meyers' real fascination with the genre stems from his lifelong love of comic books. He singles out a Dutch "Watchmen" edition as his most-prized comic collectible.

When it is suggested that the ability to stop time might be the best super power for somebody working under an "SNL" or "Late Night" deadline, Meyers agrees, although — just as Prock generally squanders his super pauses — he doubts he'd have used it wisely. "If we had extra time, we'd probably just all go out to dinner or take it easy for a night." He feels he's been lucky now twice "to have a job that eliminates the ability to procrastinate."

The series is animated by Bento Box Entertainment out of Atlanta, the same company that animates "Bob's Burgers." Meyers wanted the various characters to at least resemble the people doing the voices. Conjurer Impresario, for example, bears a resemblance to Thompson, while Sumo, an 11-year-old who can balloon up into a sumo wrestler, has a hint of "MADtv" recruit Bobby Lee.

The humour can get raunchy at times. The acronym for a team of super villains spells out something we can't share here. The series is for adults, says Meyers, but that doesn't mean it's filthy. "It's just not a kids' show," hence its addition to Teletoon at Night.

One episode ends with brainy Prock building a particle transporter machine and beaming a Sasquatch to the Canadian wilderness — Toronto. Meyers is looking forward to his own trip to Toronto Sept. 27 for his JFL42 closing gala. He's excited that Mayor Rob Ford, currently running for re-election, "is sticking around long enough for me to do one more show in Canada."

Meyers, who worked Montreal's original Just For Laughs in 2013, finds Canadian comedy audiences "really tuned in" and was blown away by the support he received in Quebec.

As for his day job on NBC's "Late Night," Meyers says the first six months have flown by. "I am enjoying it," he says, especially the chance to perform every night. He admits the amount of work required to mount a nightly talk show would have been really shocking had he not spent the previous 13 years working on "Saturday Night Live."

"'SNL' is the perfect schedule," he says, "to make everything else seem a little easier."


Bill Brioux is a freelance TV columnist based in Brampton, Ont.

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