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've found myself emotionally invested in the whole Conan saga. I've been a fan of Conan before I even knew who he was (see some of the best Simpsons episodes ever for evidence). The manner in which the whole situation has transpired has made me queasy, and I'm traditionally a person who couldn't care less about a celebrity (notable exceptions other than Conan: Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, Rick Mercer).

I'll watch with sadness tonight not just for myself in missing his show but more out of sympathy for what he and his team are losing after working so hard for so many years.

Cheers CoCo, see you on Fox.

BTW, the ultimate kicker -- my family will be in LA next week for a Disneyland trip. My wife and I were planning on going to see Conan and were disappointed to not have received tickets. Now I'll just have to toss eggs at the dormant studio at Universal Studios.

I predict CoCo will come back on the scene on another network with a skit comedy / variety show that will be as funny as the funniest moments in Saturday Night Live and generate more viewers than any other show in history!

well, one can dream, right?

Another Conanite here...

Nothing more to add that hasn't been said already.

clever id wrote:
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.

QFT x 2

I'll admit that I hardly ever watch the "major networks," let alone late night talk shows, but back when I did (when he hosted Late Night), I liked him the best. I did return to watch Conan's first week on the Tonight Show, but then stopped due to it being a watered down/censored down version of his Late Night show. Then I came back again when this NBC debacle first broke and have been watching every night since then. Every show has been comedy gold.

I was surpised to see that NBC is letting come back as soon as September. Good for us fans though, if he ends up on a network that let's him get back to his "Late Night roots" so to speak.

I want Conan to team up with Chapelle for a revival of the Chapelle show format.

Also:

Bear wrote:

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!

I think it was in the 80s, when he used to go on Letterman. Before he sold his comedy soul.

What NBC could have done was retool Jay Leno's show off the air while giving Conan a chance to build an audience. With one of the most avid car collectors on the planet, NBC could have made him the host of an American version of Top Gear. It may not be able to have the reviewing freedom on American cars as the Brit version, but you can still make it an hour long commercial for an industry that needs all the help it can get to jumpstart a huge segment of the economy. Along with the challenges, Star in A reasonably priced car, and the stunts, they can have a segment called "What's In Jay's Garage" that would be unique to a US version. Seinfield can be a co-anchor with his Hammond like love of Porsches.

Now there is the possibility of Conan going to a rival network to setup a late night show, with a built in audience. Fox , with its horrible history at this, should jump at the chance. NBC meanwhile is bleeding money and ratings, and put back Leno so that he and Letterman can fight over the same demographic.

Hard to watch him end it tonight. Much respect for how he handled the very end. Good luck, Coco.

I've always said that any version of Top Gear done by a US network is going to suck. They'll get 3 pretty boy hosts who know nothing about cars, they'll never be able to duplicate the hilarious dynamic the British hosts have and they'll be more product placement and in-line advertising than actual content. Think any of the cars shows they still air on Spike. I was actually kind of glad to hear that Jeff Zucker canned it. If it ends up at another network, my only hope is that since the BBC still controls the property, that they'll insist it be done properly and not just be a bastardization like what happens when US networks get their hands on most British shows.

Bear wrote:

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!

The fact that, when the year 2000 rolled around, he didn't change it (and took it another 10 years the same) speaks of someone that just knows when a joke works.

As for Leno on something like a USA Top Gear, I could see him there, but not as the main host. I guess they would have to give him top billing, though. Much better an idea than letting him host late night talk shows, though. Maybe he could be less writer-y and more witty, because he's nowhere near as funny as Clarkson is and would need tons of help.

Also, the show last night was great - much love for the man who knew how to be respectful and go out on a great note (pun intended)!

Rat Boy wrote:

NBC is dead to me.

I felt this way too, for sure, but after last night's finale where Conan laid into cynicism (whether his statement was just political posturing or truthful) I decided to give NBC a break. That doesn't mean I'm gonna watch the Tonight Show, I never did, I just didn't think it was that great.

Anyway, the end of the finale was mind blowing. I didn't really give too much thought about how he could end the show, but the way he went out was fantastic. Everyone should watch the last segment. EVERYONE.

I do have to wonder what NBC was thinking, however, taking Leno off the show while he was still no. 1 in the ratings. That just doesn't sound like good business sense to me, especially if Leno wasn't ready to go. Say what you will of his lack of humor, he was beating Letterman in the ratings.

garion333 wrote:
Rat Boy wrote:

NBC is dead to me.

I felt this way too, for sure, but after last night's finale where Conan laid into cynicism (whether his statement was just political posturing or truthful) I decided to give NBC a break. That doesn't mean I'm gonna watch the Tonight Show, I never did, I just didn't think it was that great.

I wonder if Conan has been wondering where all these "I'm with CoCo" people were when his ratings were in the tank these past seven months...

I'd be all for hating on NBC if their Thursday night lineup wasn't so effing outstanding.

Chairman_Mao wrote:

I do have to wonder what NBC was thinking, however, taking Leno off the show while he was still no. 1 in the ratings. That just doesn't sound like good business sense to me, especially if Leno wasn't ready to go. Say what you will of his lack of humor, he was beating Letterman in the ratings.

As I understand it the reason they decided not to buy out Conan's Tonight Show contract was because they'd already decided to give Jay Leno the primetime show.

SommerMatt wrote:

I wonder if Conan has been wondering where all these "I'm with CoCo" people were when his ratings were in the tank these past seven months... :)

Watching him for free on Youtube and the like.
I think Conan needs to do something different. A half hour show, more comedy, less guests. Like the daily show, but less newsy. I think that kind of format appeals more to the demographic he's looking to reach with his style of humour.

Just to be contrary, I'm with Leno.