Everything you need to know about ‘Cicada, Cicada,’ Seth Meyers' Broadway play | latenightist (2024)

The most elaborate recurring bit on Late Night was born of its Studio Era: Cicada, Cicada, a Broadway play that Seth Meyers has either already written and taken on an out-of-town run or is still developing.

While you don’t have to have watched every episode to get the humor when Cicada, Cicada pops up, it’s much more rewarding if you’re fully caught up. Read on to find out everything we know so far.

What's the Plot of Cicada, Cicada?

Everything you need to know about ‘Cicada, Cicada,’ Seth Meyers' Broadway play | latenightist (1)

Cicada, Cicada is the story of a Broadway-loving cicada who hatches in the South and comes to New York during the pandemic shutdown, unaware that she only has 17 days to live.

A sardonic but kind-hearted Cigarette-Smoking co*ckroach befriends the Cicada when she gets to the city and has to break it to her that Broadway is closed because of the pandemic. The Cicada tells him, “That’s fine, I’ll wait as long as it takes.”

The co*ckroach can’t bear telling her the truth about her lifespan and decides to convince the Broadway star whose apartment he lives in to perform a one-man play for the Cicada before she dies. In exchange, the co*ckroach will move out of the star’s apartment.

Inexplicably, the Mets start winning games as the day of the performance nears, and the co*ckroach (“a bug who has never cared for another insect”) has to decide if he goes to the Met game or to see Nathan Lane’s one-man play with the Cicada. He chooses to go to the show and gives a standing ovation at the end, but the Cicada doesn’t — because she died during the show.

The co*ckroach then goes to the Met game, where he cries for the first time in his life:

“Not because his friend is dead, but because the Mets blow a four-run lead in the ninth.”

Seth Meyers

What Do We Know About the Music in Cicada, Cicada?

Seth has so far let us in on five of the show’s songs:

The co*ckroach has a song called “My Titanic Hit a Bloomberg,” in which he complains about New York’s 2003 bar-and-restaurant smoking ban.

The co*ckroach will also have a yet-named song in which he returns from the doctor’s office and says he tested positive, leading to someone asking if he tested positive for Covid-19. He responds in song:

“No. ♪ For the Mets! ♪♪ The doc says it’s as bad as it gets ♪♪ Fever, bad cough, and the sweats ♪♪ I said, Is there a cure? ♪♪ He said, “Sure. ♪♪ I take a hammer and I hit you on the head ♪♪ Until you forgets! ♪”

Cigarette-Smoking co*ckroach/Seth Meyers

For the title song, “Cicada, Cicada,” Seth says “everybody’s very surprised because it’s actually not about bugs at all. It is sung by Cuban-American Jon Secada, and it’s about how people sometimes say his name wrong.”

In Corrections for the week of Dec. 13 (2001), Seth said he wants to write a song for the Cicada about how she only has “like 4 weeks to live” (insect lifespans have been a challenge) and “how 4 weeks in New York City is a lifetime anywhere else. I think that’s really beautiful.”

We also know that the show’s final song will be a torch song called “Where Have You Gone, John Franco?” John Franco was one of the all-time great closers in MLB when he left the Mets in 2004.

What's Changed About Cicada, Cicada over time?

While the plot has stayed mostly consistent over time, Seth made one notable change to Cicada, Cicada as it transitioned into a more involved bit.

In Corrections for the week of June 7 (2021), Seth claimed that the musical was already fully written and had even done an out-of-town run. He said that critics complained that the musical was about friendship up until the end, which was mostly just complaining about the Mets.

“And I’ll just say to all these out-of-town critics: If you know so much about Broadway, why do you live in New Haven?”

Seth Meyers

In Corrections for the week of Dec. 13 (2001), Seth said he wants to write a song for the Cicada, indicating that the musical is still a work in progress. And in his March 1, 2022, interview with Harvey Fierstein, Seth said that the musical is an idea he’s been percolating, referring to writing it in the future tense.

Who Is in the Cast of Cicada, Cicada?

Everything you need to know about ‘Cicada, Cicada,’ Seth Meyers' Broadway play | latenightist (2)

Seth introduced the main cast on June 7, 2021, the first time he mentioned Cicada, Cicada. A couple of additions have been made along the way.

Christine Baranski | The Cicada

Seth has long claimed that Christine Baranski is a “soft yes” on performing as the Cicada. Nathan Lane told him they’re old friends and that she’d “definitely do it.” She later confirmed her involvement by appearing in the Corrections Specjackular to wish the Jackals a happy 50th episode, saying that “the songs are catchy, but in a bad way, like chlamydia.”

Harvey Fierstein | The Mets-Loving Cigarette-Smoking co*ckroach

Harvey Fierstein was so excited when he heard about Seth’s desire to have him play the co*ckroach that he sent Seth photos of himself in a co*ckroach costume. He later confirmed to Seth that he’s “a hard yes.”

Harvey also appeared in the Specjackular, pointing out that his co-stars “are a lot. And being a lot is my thing.”

Nathan Lane | “Whoever the f*ck he wants to be,” and later, as himself

Nathan Lane excited Seth by already knowing about Cicada, Cicada by the time Seth offered him a role in the play. He pushed back at first on the co*ckroach living in his apartment, but soon bought in and told Seth that “I certainly would sign on if you’ll have me.” Seth also told him that he can be Harvey Fierstein’s understudy and play both roles when necessary.

Nathan, too, appeared on the Specjackular, saying, “I want to fire my agent for convincing me to do this.”

Everything you need to know about ‘Cicada, Cicada,’ Seth Meyers' Broadway play | latenightist (3)

Jason Sudeikis | Jason Cicadis

Seth suggested on June 10 that people buy tickets to Cicada, Cicada when Broadway reopens, and said he was “thrilled to announce” that Jason Sudeikis would be joining the cast “fresh off his monster success starring in Ted Grasso.”

The Mets | The Mets, but good

Seth told Nathan Lane that “a lot of the Mets are gonna be in it,” as the team is an important plot point in the show, but it’s unclear whether they would be a part of the show during a Met game or as more developed characters.

How Did Cicada, Cicada Get Its Start?

During ‘A Closer Look’ on July 29, 2020, Seth introduced the Cigarette-Smoking co*ckroach as a new character on Late Night in a callback to a 2019 monologue joke about New York’s real Cigarette co*ckroach.

In spring 2021, he introduced the Cicada during a bit about the co*ckroach complaining about the Mets at a community board meeting. While the musical hadn’t yet been introduced, this was the first reference to the main conflict of what would become Cicada, Cicada.

“[co*ckroach] Oh, what? No smoking indoors? Since when, 2003? Well, if it’s been that long, someone should tell the cicadas.[Cicada] Did someone say my name? It’s wonderful to be back! After 17 years underground, I can’t wait for 17 great years above ground in the best city in the world!”[co*ckroach] Oh, no. Oh, I have some bad news, cicadas.[Cicada] I hope it’s not bad news about my life expectancy!”

Cigarette-Smoking co*ckroach/Cicada/Seth Meyers

Everything you need to know about ‘Cicada, Cicada,’ Seth Meyers' Broadway play | latenightist (4)

Seth introduced Cicada, Cicada a couple of weeks later in an ongoing bit about Late Night having to cut corners because of a lack of budget. Seth lamented that “the penny pinching NBC execs” wouldn’t pay for an M.C. Hammer sample that Seth wanted to play after joking that Donald Trump’s baggy pants looked like “if MC Hammer made business pants.”

Seth said the musical itself was an outgrowth of the show being “nutty with callbacks” and says he wanted to use it to get rich enough to pay for a sample.

“I basically spent the entire hiatus working on my musical, Cicada, Cicada. It stars Christine Baranski as the cicada, Harvey Fierstein as the co*ckroach, and Nathan Lane as whoever the f*ck he wants to be. We’re currently looking for financial backers, but you should probably steer clear if you hate making money!”

Seth Meyers

Over the following week, Seth detailed all the ways he was trying to earn enough money for MC Hammer: producing Cicada, Cicada; not giving Wally lines in ‘A Closer Look’ so he didn’t have to pay him extra; cutting the budget line for his pre-pandemic suits; starting a new show called Chicago Postal Service Police Force (“the cheapskates at NBC would only pay for one of the ‘dun’s!”); and starting a company called MyZipper, which makes pants that zip up both the front and back.

Soon thereafter, Late Night started putting the emphasis less on Cicada, Cicada being one of Seth’s many money-making schemes (although those still pop up) and more on Seth’s journey to produce it.

What's Next for Cicada, Cicada?

One of the best things about Cicada, Cicada is that Seth Meyers might be the only person on Earth who knows exactly what it is.

It could live in perpetuity as an ongoing bit within ‘A Closer Look’ and Corrections or turn into a one-off or recurring sketch. Hell, it could turn into something far bigger, for all we know.

The mystery of Cicada, Cicada is part of its story, and part of what makes the current iteration of Late Night so intriguing: Instead of focusing on viral-potential segments that exist independent of the context of the rest of the show, or else relegating running bits to their own segments, Late Night rewards regular viewers by building in a sort of fun-house version of plot continuity not typically seen on late-night talk shows — and all without making the show difficult to understand for those who do only catch the occasional segment.

Cicada, Cicada exemplifies this approach. If you’re a new viewer, you can still find humor in watching Seth’s theatrical impersonation of the Cicada, or in the image of a Cigarette-Smoking co*ckroach — but if you’ve watched Late Night regularly since quarantine, you’re rewarded with a more nuanced, layered experience that adds a great deal to the comedy of the show. And not knowing what happens next makes it all the more fun to participate.

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Everything you need to know about ‘Cicada, Cicada,’ Seth Meyers' Broadway play | latenightist (2024)
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