In the Year 2010… In the Year 2010…
I am one of those people who function best on 5 ½ to 6 hours of sleep a night. Any more than that and I’ll wake up with a headache and the rest of the day will just drag by. This is something I learned in high school (1995-1999). And the way I found this out was by staying up every night to watch the then unfamiliar Conan O’Brien.
He acknowledged his audience: High school students, college students, and senior citizens. Demographics showed those were the people who for some reason kept tuning in each night. Those were the groups of people who “got” his kind of humor. Such as:
A giant bear wearing a diaper who was put in a chamber with cash flying around who instead of grabbing for as much cash as he could during the 30 second time limit, he chose to grab… himself.
Staring contests between Conan and his sidekick Andy Richter with distractions on stage to make it for challenging for them both. My favorite was when a robot came out on stage and sat down on a toilet. The sound of bolts clanking into the bowl were heard. Then the robot raised his arms in victory.
Andy Richter’s little sister. She was in love with Conan and would sit in the audience in her pajamas and pigtails and rush up on the stage whenever she got a chance. I remember having a crush on the 25 year-old actress who played her; it was her first role on TV. Years later she ended up on SNL and eventually got her own show, Parks and Rec. Amy Poehler.
Not Cool Zeus. Conan would flip through his “special NBC satellite” channels to see what else was on while his show was on. He watched a show called Not Cool Zeus where Zeus broke obvious social boundaries. One time he drank milk right out of the container from the fridge, looked around to see if anyone was looking, then snuck it back in the fridge. Another time he did a huge cannonball into a swimming pool right next to a group of people who were just chilling out. Each time a red logo would be stamped onto the screen that read “NOT COOL ZEUS”.
Raymond, who gives away Preparation H to audience members and sings, “Raymond’s here, Raymond’s here”.
Triumph the Insult Comic dog: “For me to poop on!”
Secrets with Mr. T.
When it really comes down to it, Conan O’Brien is my favorite comedian on TV. And he has been as long as I’ve been watching him.
I don’t “get” David Letterman’s style of humor. I’ve tried. I failed. The dry, aimless, ad-libbing Midwesterner and his Jewish bandleader Paul Shaffer were never a team that pulled off keeping my attention. I’ve never made it through a full episode of his, not even the ones where he heavily addressed his scandal.
But Conan’s randomness reminds me of the way my guy friends and I joke around. It’s not vulgar. It’s just weird and off the wall.
Conan O’Brien is much more scripted. Almost too scripted. And somehow that becomes an advantage instead of a downfall. It’s part of the fun. In a way it’s like he’s making fun of how organized the show is. He has always mocked NBC and his writers.
Like a grown-up version of Pee Wee’s Playhouse where he is the only legitimate entertainer amongst a crew and network consisting of imbeciles. And a creepy Jewish bandleader named Max Weinberg who just happens to also be Bruce Springsteen’s drummer. That is solid.
And the fact that Conan refuses to change his Spandau Ballet hairstyle. And that he speaks in a 1940’s radio broadcast dialect. And that he constantly makes fun of his pasty white skin and lanky 6’ 4” body.
Yet he comes across as the classiest late night host. Conan is somehow timeless.
I remember a few years ago I remember thinking how weird it would be if any of the late night hosts themselves ended up in the headlines. Because so much of their job is sarcastically commentating on what’s going on in the news. Ironic. Now with David Letterman’s sex scandal, Jay Leno’s failed new show, and Conan’s leaving The Tonight Show, all the bases are covered.
I will always be a Conan guy. Whether he’s on NBC or not.