I was proudly part of #TeamCoCo when the chips were down, and it looked like a great creative mind was getting hosed by a major television network. I wasn’t a supporter just because CoCo was getting hosed by NBC, a giant corporate devil who pumps its politically-motivated bile straight into the homes of every American. No. I was a supporter because I actually liked Conan’s work.
He started out awkwardly, but by the end of his second lap through the calendar from behind the desk of a late-night talk show that awkwardness was gone. The show was amazing.
It’s seemingly taken a similar cycle for Conan’s show on TBS. I tried to watch the show several times during the first six months, but never found myself inspired enough to want to watch it every night. I’ve given the show another shot over the past few months, and every time I watch it I will find at least a handful of jokes that make me laugh uncontrollably. The show is also cut up into hunks and posted on Conan’s website for viewing and sharing. This is how i’ve been taking it in for the most part over these past few months.
The conclusion I’ve come to is essentially a philosophical question.
Why don’t I watch more Conan?
This question came to me when I watched the induction of Martin Scorsese into the Oscar Winners F-Bomb Hall of Fame for his contributions in the art of saying the F-bomb for Oscar-winning actors, and for his achievement of working a record 506 F-bombs into The Wolf of Wall Street. As Conan points out in this video, that’s an average of 2.8 F-bombs per minute.
That is impressive.
The Oscar-Winning Actors F-Bomb Hall of Fame has been around since 2011. Prior to Scorsese’s induction, Kevin Spacy and Javier Bardem were the only members of the club. To get into the Hall, you have to be an Oscar winner, and you have to have said the F-word on Conan’s show.
Scorsese was an honorary induction at first, but did consummate the event with an F-bomb later in the show during his interview segment.
His delivery was weak in comparison to what Kevin Spacey did when he appeared on the show to claim his F-Bomb trophy.
I wanted to put that video here, but no matter how hard I tried to make it work, there was just no embedding it with my limited skill set. So you’ll have to go to Conan’s website to see Spacey pick up his F-Bomb Award.
The idea of having an F-Bomb Hall of Fame is brilliant. I like it.
It’s no Masturbating Bear or Walker, Texas Ranger Lever, but I still consider such a thing as being good television, and there isn’t much good television left.
So I asked myself the why-I-don’t-watch-more-Conan question again.
After a few days of thinking about it, I still can’t come up with a good answer, so I’m making it a point to check out Conan every day from now on.
I hate to see good television go to waste.
My on-again, off-again affairs with late-night talk shows has been going on for decades now. We get together for a while every now and then, and then we go our separate ways for another year or two.
My favorite late-night talk show hookup hasn’t always been Conan.
There used to be someone else.
(Trigger wavy, hazy, melty effect to indicate we’re going into a flashback now)
It happened one summer in the late 1980s.
I was swirled in a tangle with the sheets and pillows on my bed, with one hand tucked underneath my pillow and the other clutching the remote control.
Late night talk shows were never my thing to this point, because the only one I’d really seen to this point was the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. This changed that night.
I watched an episode of Late Night with David Lettermen, and quickly developed a sick obsession for someone as young as I was at the time. I stayed up to watch it every weeknight the rest of that summer. I set the VCR to record it every night when summer ended. I would watch the tape in the mornings while getting ready for school.
This went on for years.
Then the fiasco that occurred between Leno and Letterman over the Tonight Show job, and Dave eventually splitting for CBS just turned me off. I haven’t been able to enjoy watching Letterman since.
I didn’t enjoy watching any of these shows for several years. Then a brand new discovery struck me the same way Letterman did almost a decade earlier. It was Conan’s show that was occupying the slot that belonged to Letterman for all those years.
By this time Conan O’brien had found his stride and he had a staff of amazing writers around him. Together, they brought characters like Pimpbot 5000 and the Masturbaring Bear to life.
The bits were wedged in right after the monologue or right after the first guest every night. They were the primary reason I tuned in.
Conan and his staff did like David Letterman did before them, and took the show in their own direction and created something unlike anything before it. They were at the height of their powers when I first caught onto Conan on NBC, and when I saw Pimpbot 5000 for the first time, I was hooked for life.
Pimpbot 5000 was a 1950’s style robot with a 1970s pimp persona. This tin can dressed and spoke like it walked off the set of The Mack or Dolemite.
Pimpbot even had a pimp ray he could use to turn out the entire audience, and it worked on me. Here it is nearly 20 years later and I’m still pimping Conan.
Then there were characters like The Masturbating Bear and bits like the satellite interviews with images of Bill Clinton and Arnold Schwarzenegger featuring real mouths, and In The Year 2000, which also never failed to entertain.
The writing that went into these segments are what set Conan apart from the rest then, and it’s what still sets him apart from the rest today.
Nobody does that better.
The interview segments of the show are still kind of lacking, but that’s not really Conan’s fault, it’s just part of the late-night format that needs ditched in favor of material from top-notch writers.
Although there are some times when the interviews go well.
An interview segment with Norm MacDonald and Courtney Thorne-Smith from 1997 remains one of my favorites of all time. Smith was there to promote the season finale of Melrose Place, and the movie she quit Melrose Place to make called Chairman of the Board, starring Carrot Top.
Conan does a masterful job of handling Norm MacDonald who tried to dominate the interview. He didn’t stop him from interrupting, but kept the interruptions to quick jabs. Conan even throws a few pitches Norm’s way for him to knock out of the park, and he does.
His show is different now. As it probably should be.
He’s a middle-aged man who has been through some shit now.
I can accept that.
Change is good.
Just like funny is funny.
At the moment, Conan is funny.
I will watch more of it.