Why I Like Conan

Conan O'BrienAdmittedly, I’ve had little time to think about what I was going to blog this morning and even less time now to write, but I thought I’d share with you my feelings about late night TV in the USA.

David Letterman: He’s a sardonic arsehole. There’s not an ounce of joy left in the man (at least none that exudes from my TV set). Every joke uttered from his lips reeks of, “Oh, this job sucks, but I get paid a lot for it, so why not?” My rating: acerbic.

Jay Leno: Treats America as if we’re all morons with a third grade education. He can’t speak about a minority opinion for more than five seconds before he has to rebut with, “But most people think that…” He has no sense of humor, no sense of timing, and we can easily see through his faux amusement when his guests are not interesting. My rating: imbecile.

Jimmy Kimmel: Four words: Stay off the pot man. Jimmy always looks like he just rolled out of bed, rolled a joint, and came to work, and perhaps that’s what the ABC execs like about him because it gives him that frat boy I-don’t-give-two-sh*ts attitude, but it just makes for mediocre TV. He’s not really funny unless you think that guy who just drank a funnel of beer and threw up in your bathroom is funny. My rating: schlep.

Craig Ferguson: Not bad, in a “Well-it’s late-and-no-one’s-watching” kind of way. He’s a pretty good comedian and his timing’s usually on the ball, but the show’s producers know they’re going against the king of the 1230am time slot (Conan), and hey, they just don’t care. You can tell by the small sets and the lack of camera angles that this is a low budget show. My rating: mediocre, but not necessarily Craig’s fault.

Conan O’Brien: Superb. And not just because I started watching him back in college when I should have been in bed or studying. He’s been doing this for more than a decade and he’s still on the ball. Last night with Martin Short, Conan totally went off the script of questions because Short is so eccentric, and yet Conan adapted instantly, completely unfazed, even when they slipped into awkward pauses and odd timing. His skits are also mostly fantastic (although they bomb from time to time). But the non sequiturs are what makes this show special in my mind. Conan has joy in his work, unlike Letterman. Conan has respect for his audience, unlike Leno who treats his audience like school kids. Conan dresses sharp and his eyes aren’t half-lidded or bloodshot from too much partying, unlike Kimmel. And he’s got the big budget to make his show sing, unlike poor Ferguson, who has a lot of potential but little support. My rating: Conan, you rock.

4 Replies to “Why I Like Conan”

  1. I’m with you on all your opinions, except for Leno. I like Leno. Then again, I think most Americans are morons, too. 🙂

  2. Matt, Matt, Matt. You are so wrong about Letterman I don’t know where to begin. Just a few points:

    – If not for Letterman, there would *be* no Conan O’Brien (who I love, btw). Letterman was the pioneer of the “hip,” college crowd- targeted, talk show that Conan O’Brien now presides over. Over the decades, he has obviously grown out of that role (I guess it would be a bit unseemly for a 60-plus-year-old to try to continue to fill that role), but it doesn’t change the fact that he was the original hip late-night host. Give the guy some credit. Yeah, I admit it. I consistently watched and laughed out loud at Letterman during my college years.

    – What makes Letterman so eminently watchable–and which none of the other late night hosts can match–is his mercurial nature combined with his interviewing skills. Is Dave going to fawn over his beautiful guest starlet tonight and how beautiful she smells (probably)? Or is he going to relentlessly (and hysterically) hound a clearly uncomfortable Nicole Kidman with questions about TomKat? (Yep, it happened). Is he going to pull a Leno and throw softball questions at Russell Crowe about his recent legal woes after Crowe hurled a phone at a hotel clerk? Or is he going to question Crowe’s sincerity and wonder out loud whether Crowe has an anger problem that he can’t control even if he is remorseful. (Yep, it happened). Is he going to kiss the ass of the day’s guest politician? (Maybe.) Or is he going to pose the type of tough substantive question that Ted Koppel might ask and catch the politician with his pants down? (Happens regularly). Letterman can be a kiss-ass, a curmudgeon or just plain nasty. Which will it be tonight? You can see the celebrities discomfort when they sit down. THAT’S why I tune in regularly.

    – I will concede that Leno’s monolog–though a bit on the crude side–is superior to Letterman’s. But Leno’s consistently sycophantic nature–combined with the astounding egomania of the zillionaire celebrities he’s kissing up to–makes it all kind of nauseating to watch.

    –And yes, Conan rules right now. I think he’ll be a worthy successor to the Tonight Show in 2009. But he will no doubt change his style, much like Letterman did when he moved from the 12:30 to the 11:30 time slot, to appeal to an audience larger than college kids.

  3. Mercurio,
    You are mostly right about Dave. He was king sh_t for all the college kids back in the day. But today, for me he just comes off very acerbic. He does ask some tough questions, like when he badgered Russell Crowe about his pugilistic tendencies, but I just thought that low and insensitive, especially given that Mr. Letterman is a celebrity too and knows how painful it can be when your private life becomes public. The one redeeming quality of Dave, however, that I should have mentioned in my rant, is that he exposed Bush’s lies about that yawning kid during one of his speeches, and never backed down under the adminsitration’s pressure. I don’t hate the man, however, I just don’t really like watching his show.

  4. Fair enough, Matt. Btw, do you really think that Russell Crowe merited a “sensitive,” kid gloves interview by Letterman after what he did? Crowe stormed down from his hotel room–with a phone that he ripped out of the wall in hand–and hurled it at at the head of some low-paid hotel clerk, injuring him! (All caught on videotape). If anybody deserved to have the “nasty Dave” unleashed on him, it’s that creep. I was just a little surprised that Letterman had the guts to confront such an intimidating guy head-on.

Comments are closed.