Last year Jeremy O. Harris went on Late Night with Seth Meyer and scammed the host into buying tickets to his smash Broadway hit, Slave Play. Last night, Harris was back on the show and back to his scheming ways.
The former Out cover star had been on the show last year to discuss Slave Play, which has since garnered a history-making 12 Tony Award nominations. Within a few minutes, Harris had convinced Meyer to buy tickets for the first 10 people who requested them on his Twitter. To add insult to injury, Harris double-downed and was able to get Meyer to commit to not just buying 10 sets of tickets, but also to buying 10 sets of the more expensive premium seat tickets.
When Harris returned last night to Late Night, Meyer was understandably wary. True, the previous year’s scam had been for a good cause, but Meyer had shown himself to be an easy mark and he wasn’t about to be taken yet again. Or so he had planned.
In the interview, the pair discussed the state of theater and how the pandemic presents a unique moment to reconsider how we move forward to make the industry more accessible to those for whom it had not been before — that, after all, was the impetus for Harris's original scam. The playwright also announced a new effort, The Golden Collection which is named after his grandfather. It is comprised of 15 different plays by Black writers including works by Robert O'Hara, Alice Childress, George C. Wolfe, and Branden Jacobs Jenkins among others. One set of the collection is being sent to one library in every state, and others can also buy them. And then came the scam.
Meyer proved he was no match for Harris’s wily ways, although this time around there was no impact on his wallet. Instead, Harris challenged Meyer to use his incredible who’s-who list of followers on Twitter to advance a project that has become near and dear to his heart as of late. He asked Meyer to tag Beyoncé, Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, and just about everyone else who matters to help convince the incoming Biden administration to bring back the Federal Theatre Project.
Harris, who has spent much of the global pandemic isolating in London, told Meyer he believes an updated version of the New Deal program, reimagined for the modern era instead of the Great Depression, would jumpstart a theatre industry devastated by shutdowns. The original program ran from 1935 to 1939, and was instrumental in preserving the American theatre. Harris noted that the program also helped spark the Black theatre movement as well.
Despite getting conned yet again, Meyer remained true to his word and retweeted Harris’s request while tagging Biden, Rihanna, and others.
While the global shutdown that has shuttered theaters, Harris has enjoyed a good deal of success at the moment. Slave Play, his Broadway directorial debut about three interracial couples undergoing therapy, received 12 Tony Award nominations, including Best Play, Best Direction, and multiple nominations for Best Performances. Harris also just signed a two-year deal earlier this year with HBO which included discretionary funding for new theatrical projects.