I'm with Coco

“Obviously this was not our first choice … it was not our eighth choice. But I am determined to make the best of this situation. So ladies and gentlemen, people that are watching, here’s the plan: tonight and tomorrow night, we are going to have a lot of fun on television.”

-- Conan O’Brien, in his penultimate Tonight Show monologue

A few scant hours after you read this, Conan O’Brien will wish his audience a good night, walk away from his desk, and end his all-too-brief reign as host of the Tonight Show. I’m not going to rehash the business politicking behind the mess – it’s been covered enough through blogs, in the media, and even on other late-night talkshows. What I can say is that Conan’s departure leaves me feeling robbed. What should have been a decade-long dynasty of comedy and general goofiness was instead reduced to a handful of embryonic months. I’ve seen Joss Whedon shows on FOX treated with more respect.

If there’s any silver lining to the shenanigans seen in the last two weeks, it is that Conan’s waning tenure is producing some of the most honest, cynical, and darkly humorous entertainment ever seen on a major broadcasting network. The nation is watching a man deal with the abject denial of his childhood dreams, and his reaction is to laugh as his lifelong ambitions crumble around him. Well, laugh and spend as much of the network’s money as possible. All while doing everything in his power to insult the network executives responsible for this rigmarole.

Future generations will most certainly look to the Bugatti Veyron Mouse sketch linked above as the empirical definition of catharsis. Standing next to the world’s most expensive car, laughing maniacally over the ridiculous excess of it all, it’s almost possible to see concentrated beads of schadenfreude drip from Conan’s being.

It’s little wonder that the man has garnered so much support. Freakishly tall, pasty white, with unruly red hair accompanying a litany of self-deprecating comments, Conan’s characteristic pessimism is practically custom tailored to the geeks and dweebs of the world. I remember Conan’s Late Night antics accompanying many of my study sessions throughout high school and college. Musing about his audience (dozens and dozens, maybe!), Conan would launch straight into one of his irreverent and wildly inappropriate staples – a “self-pleasuring” bear, robotic pimp or “Walker, Texas Ranger Lever” – and leave me entranced. Conan’s show was the underfunded underdog crawling through the infomercial wastelands of late night television, and he made sure you knew it at every turn. He captured the minds of young people who identified with his instability (we had nothing to show for ourselves; no one knew our names; we were unimportant workers or students earning a quiet existence) as we admired his ability to laugh at his shortcomings.

When Conan signs off later tonight, I’ll lament the loss of a youth icon, however temporary. I’ll feel no anger for the way he was treated, no rage for the old standards maintaining their foothold, only sorrow for the lost possibilities.

But I’ll be damned if Conan didn’t go out the way that so many of us have only dreamed of: a pocket full of cash, a laugh on his lips, and an obscene gesture flying in the face of his ex-bosses.

Godspeed, CoCo. You were not long for this world.

Comments

I still remember making a pilgrimage to NYC with three of my friends to see Conan live. It was Steve Carrell and the Flight of the Concords with a special appearance by Will Arnette. (spelling errors abound here) Did anyone know that Conan comes onstage after the show ends and sings a song to the audience? He does! It's fantastic.

What I'm trying to say is that I used to tape Conan every night and watch him when I got back from school. He was a big influence on my sense of humor and he did it all with a sort of intelligence not often seen on the big networks.

I just wonder where he'll land.

I wonder if he plans to pen an Eagle Semen letter.

I think every episode this week constitutes his Eagle Semen letter. Late Night's never been so entertaining.

This could still be the best thing to ever happen to him. Who knows.

Bring back the Walker, Texas Ranger Lever!!!

I used to love watching him in my early teens, sneaking downstairs after my parents thought I was in bed. Since then, I've just never been one to watch late-night TV, but have always had a soft spot in my heart for his brand of humor, and have seen many a youtube clip.

There is no doubt in my mind that he'll land on his feet somewhere, and keep producing the same quality content.

I'm in the Craig Ferguson camp. They should give him the Tonight Show.

Conan has been nothing short of fabulous these past few weeks. Generally I don't much care for his monologues (well, on late night, anyway), but I've had trouble not laughing recently. With the guest stars showing up like PeeWee Herman last night, and the just tossing away the network's money, it's been one delight after another.

Ridiculing the NBC network and it's executives has proved to be the biggest well of laughs I've seen in late night television short of Ferguson's antics (that man is just not right in the head )

Wherever Conan goes, I'll follow. He has a loyal following and I think NBC won't realize what they've done to themselves until he starts another show, with much better network support.

I'm with Coco!

trueheart78 wrote:

He has a loyal following and I think NBC won't realize what they've done to themselves until he starts another show, with much better network support.

I'm with Coco!

QFT.

I remember trying to describe early Conan to folks with, "The show sucks, and he knows it sucks, and that's what makes it so great!"

Personally I'm hoping someone gives him a prime time variety show and it is successful. The irony would probably bring about the apocalypse.

I have enjoyed watching Conan for 10+ years now but I have grown so angry with the way this has been handled that I have stayed away entirely over the past three weeks. I don't want to watch the episodes queued up on the DVR because I'm afraid of it just being a painful reminder of what NBC has done with this mess.

I didn't really watch Leno before unless there was a particular guest I wanted to see. But now I'll go out of my way to boycott the show regardless of who or what is on that night. I'll watch it again if Conan returns (not happening) or an amazingly great host takes over. for now I'll just wait to see where Conan lands next and go from there.

Switchbreak wrote:

I'm in the Craig Ferguson camp. They should give him the Tonight Show.

I agree in spirit, but let's be honest, late late night is the only place on conventional network TV he wouldn't get beat down by the censors.

Actually on topic, I like Conan, though I never really watch late night network TV. There will be much irony when he lands on his feet, and puts together a great show on another network.

The only thing that beats the humor in the show now is back when he had to wing it for a while during the writer's strike. God, that was amazing.
If he actually does that porno flick it may be the first time I actually buy porn... is that weird? ...Na

I never enjoyed his late night shows much, just didn't suit my sense of humor.

That said, I am greatly enjoying watching him as he joyfully extracts a few pounds of flesh from the suits who screwed this whole situation up so royally

I first started watching coco in 1998 when I was 15 and saw his prime time special. I have pretty much watched almost every night since then. It's going to suck with him not being on the air until 09/01. My wife and I would watch everynight before bed and even when she got sick we'd talk on skype while watching the show.

FedoraMcQuaid wrote:

The only thing that beats the humor in the show now is back when he had to wing it for a while during the writer's strike. God, that was amazing.
If he actually does that porno flick it may be the first time I actually buy porn... is that weird? ...Na

The writer's strike was a singularly epic moment in late night comedy talk show history. The combined improvised forces of Conan, Colbert, and Stewart most likely caused more than a few cases of life-threatening laughter.

You do realize that if the rotation is just right, we're going to have two pictures of Conan O'Brien at the top of the page?

It would have been cool to see how Coco would have done ratings-wise w/o Leno killing the 10 o'clock hour (and thus the local news at 11 o'clock). Coco never really got his fair shake at the 1130 timeslot and NBC didn't learn the lesson from 1993.

Maybe that's an alternate world in Fringe.

I prefer Craig Ferguson myself. Nevertheless, Conan obviously loves what he does, and it sucks the way NBC has shafted him. He's written for a lot of shows and has a lot of contacts in the business though. I'm sure it's just a matter of time until he has a new show on Fox or Comedy Central.

As the article presents so clearly, Conan was the late-night host I fell in love with because he wasn't a comedian aging into retirement by delivering the material of others. He was an awkward, dorky writer who had no idea what he had to do to be an engaging host, and came up with his own unique style.

Ready and able to ridicule anyone and anything no matter how sacred, but also having no qualms about making himself the butt of the joke as well, a nice change from comics ready to tear on only the easy targets while taking themselves all too seriously. Willing to take a sketch or improv routine into the bizarre, surreal, subversive or even to a place that might alienate portions of his audience. This led not only to entertaining moments with prepared material, but actually resulted in him being able to create memorable, entertaining interviews out of ones that would have become deflated, uncomfortable bouts of silence or just complete disasters for most other hosts.

It breaks my heart that he wasn't given a proper chance to prove himself in the timeslot he always wished for. I had originally watched the (supposed) last episode of the Tonight Show under Leno and the first one under Conan back to back, and to me it was as clear as day why he was the Carson for my generation, and a reminder that I feel so out of touch with the tastes of the average television viewer.

Unwilling to pay the royalties for Conan's Bugatti mouse clip, NBC has pulled it from its internet channels. Of course, you can still see the clip elsewhere, they just won't have to pay for it.

Conan is awesome. I'll watch him on any channel I receive.

adam.greenbrier wrote:

Unwilling to pay the royalties for Conan's Bugatti mouse clip, NBC has pulled it from its internet channels.

That's awesome. I love it when a plan comes together.

The Bugatti was apparently donated by a museum, free of charge, but the music royalties will cost a pretty penny.

Conan's not just a comedian, he was a writer on one of the most influential shows of a generation: The Simpsons. He ran a humor magazine - at Harvard.

He's the smartest guy in the room, which makes his self-deprecating style all the more humorous. At times his humor can be incredibly smart, but he keeps it from getting out of hand; much like Jon Stewart, he's smart enough to throw in enough stupidity for the mass market to swallow.

Conan has effectively turned a generation against NBC. He's going out a millionaire, and yet he still manages to look the martyr, which will make his inevitable resurgence all the sweeter.

I don't think there's any question of who won here. Maybe the grey-hairs will keep watching Leno, but that's a loser's racket; Conan is the future. And NBC should have known better than to fight the future.

I thought this was about Ice-T's wife...

gore wrote:

I don't think there's any question of who won here. Maybe the grey-hairs will keep watching Leno, but that's a loser's racket; Conan is the future. And NBC should have known better than to fight the future.

Exactly. Leno's audience is going to literally die soon. Like within a year. Tops.

Really have to wonder what NBC was thinking when they decided to move Leno to 10 pm. Added note: Time magazine proved to me that they have no clue what is going on in the world. I remember seeing this in the grocers checkout a short while ago:IMAGE(http://cdn.buzznet.com/media/jj1//2009/09/leno-time/jay-leno-time-magazine-cover-02.jpg)

WTF?!?!

Indignant wrote:

Really have to wonder what NBC was thinking when they decided to move Leno to 10 pm. Added note: Time magazine proved to me that they have no clue what is going on in the world. I remember seeing this in the grocers checkout a short while ago

Actually, the article is extremely good. It's basically talking about how in an era of specialized cable, TIVO, other entertainment options, and other things creating a segmented audience, the major networks will have to stop relying on big, expensive and scripted productions to fill up all their prime time.

NBC is dead to me.

And although ABC hasn't expressed interest in hiring Conan for a late night slot on their network, I think they should hire him to host the Oscars. Think about it; it's already shaping up to be one of the most boring telecasts in award show history. We can all pretty much guarantee that Avatar will sweep everything that it's nominated for and we'll be forced to watch James Cameron gloat for a couple hours. Enter Conan O'Brien. His first TV gig since leaving the Tonight Show. Free reign to take whatever potshots he wants to at NBC. I guarantee you that if Conan hosts the Academy Awards, it'll be the highest rated one of those in years.

kuddles wrote:

Actually, the article is extremely good. It's basically talking about how in an era of specialized cable, TIVO, other entertainment options, and other things creating a segmented audience, the major networks will have to stop relying on big, expensive and scripted productions to fill up all their prime time.

Yet when they tried that, it tanked.

Can someone tell me the last time Jay Leno was funny? Other than the "Jaywalking" sketch where he interviews idiots the show just flat out sucks. At least Conan was edgy. He'll wind up on another network where he'll beat the snot out of NBC.

In the year twoooooo thooooooooouuuuuuusaaaaaaanddd!