Team CoCo

26 Jan

Well, I watched Conan O’Brien’s farewell speech last night (we don’t have cable so I had to rely on YouTube), and now I find myself missing his presence on tv, in spite of the fact that for the past couple of years, I was never able to tune in to begin with. I was wondering why that is, how I can find myself longing for a show that I was unable to watch in the first place, and I realized it’s because I basically spent my adolescence with Conan. I started watching his show before anyone else that I knew. I had a mad crush on him when I was something like 12 or 13. Conan O’Brien and Jon Stewart. If memory serves, Late Night followed The Jon Stewart Show (or perhaps it was the other way around), and I always stayed up to watch them both. I was always proud of the fact that they both got as big as they eventually did, because I am never ahead of the curve. On anything. Ever. But I was with Jon Stewart, and I was with Conan O’Brien.

I think Conan O’Brien is largely responsible for my sense of humour being what it is today. I don’t think anybody would accuse me of having been a “funny” child. I didn’t develop a sense of humour until I started watching Late Night. It was just such a twisted show. I always loved the bit with the devil and the bear on the shoulder… no, not the masturbating bear, although I’m sure it’s the same costume, recycled. The bit I’m talking about is the one where Conan would find himself faced with some sort of ethical dilemma, and his conscience took the form of a devil on one shoulder and a bear on the other. “Helloooooooo! I am your bear.”

It’s interesting, the things we find funny. I’m sitting here puzzled, trying to figure out if I just never found anything funny before I stumbled across Conan’s show, or if I personally just wasn’t funny (and thus couldn’t appreciate humour) until Late Night taught me how to be.

One thing I did know from the moment I heard Conan was inheriting the Tonight Show, though… I didn’t think he was going to do very well. I know that sounds terrible but let me explain why. The pre-existing Tonight Show audience likes Jay Leno. Has anybody remotely interesting cared about Jay Leno since he stole The Tonight Show from Letterman all those years ago? No. And Conan’s pre-existing audience, well, they came from Late Night, which again, was really twisted. Since I’m too young to be familiar with Carson’s Tonight Show, all I’ve ever known is Leno’s… and quite frankly, I always found it really boring and bland. He almost seemed to be too afraid of offending anybody to really let go and be funny. Let’s face it, Jay Leno is at his funniest when he’s reading misprinted newspaper headlines. John Tesh could be funny reading misprinted newspaper headlines. So I’ve just always thought of The Tonight Show as being a bit boring, dull, palatable as something to have on in the background while you brush your teeth before bed. Something to watch before Late Night.

I knew from the start that Conan’s creativity would be stifled on The Tonight Show, and from the few episodes that I did manage to catch, I feel that I was proven right. It just seemed like he could never really let go on The Tonight Show the way he did on Late Night. He seemed uncomfortable, and in turn, it was at times uncomfortable to watch. Maybe he settled in as time went on; I never got a chance to see. Personally though, I think that his leaving The Tonight Show is something of a blessing in disguise. I’d have loved to see Jay Leno step down like a gentleman and let Conan keep what he was promised, and would have loved to see NBC loosen the reins a little bit and really let Conan do things his way, but that didn’t happen. So now, ideally, I’d like to see him move to a network that isn’t so mainstream and oppressive, so he can let his freak flag fly again.

Want to know my utopian Conan O’Brien dream scenario? David Letterman retires, passing The Late Show to Conan and letting him go head to head against Leno on a major network. It… would be………….. amazing.

And p.s., I kind of still have a crush on him.


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