" Jay's got The Tonight Show. I have a beard and an inflatable bat."
May 3, 2010 12:58 AM   Subscribe

Conan O'Brien gives his first interview since losing the Tonight Show to Jay Leno.
posted by jnaps (127 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
He may have lost his time-slot to Jay, but Leno *never* owned "The Tonight Show".
posted by RavinDave at 1:05 AM on May 3, 2010 [10 favorites]


I watch almost no TV, but after seeing his schtick once at a friends' house I can sat that Jay Leno is downright repulsive.
posted by dunkadunc at 1:21 AM on May 3, 2010 [4 favorites]


I read this as saying he gave the interview to Leno. That would have been interesting.
posted by painquale at 1:31 AM on May 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


I read this as saying he gave the interview to Leno. That would have been interesting.
Yeah, my bad. A little bit of a grammar fail this morning...although it would have definitely spiced things up a bit.
posted by jnaps at 1:36 AM on May 3, 2010


Hollywood Reporter: Why Conan should not have done '60 Minutes':

"Sorry, Conan, but the illegal immigrants I heard about in the newsmagazine's first segment who died trying to cross a canal to get into this country had it a tad worse than you."
posted by iviken at 2:12 AM on May 3, 2010 [5 favorites]


um ... Conan is somehow responsible for 60 Minute's scheduling choices? wtf???
posted by RavinDave at 2:18 AM on May 3, 2010 [4 favorites]


"Even scenes from his comedy tour that should have shown O'Brien employing success as the best revenge had a sad quality to them. Listening to the comedian perform songs recounting his struggle, I was reminded of Jason Segel's pathetic character in "Forgetting Sarah Marshall," singing silly ditties to deal with the pain of getting dumped.

But the worst part of it all was that O'Brien picked the wrong show for making his return to TV. Watching O'Brien describe his "Tonight" exit with the gravity of a life-or-death ordeal seemed all the more bizarre in the context of "60 Minutes," which so often delivers stories of true struggle and pain."

And why the beard? Here's what The Guardian wrote in 2001 about Al Gore's beard:
"It is the beard of the hermit, a former warrior sorely done by and meditating in his manly cave until the people realise their folly and come to beg him to rid the land of rampant misrule."
posted by iviken at 2:34 AM on May 3, 2010 [6 favorites]


I think Conan O'Brien's a real mensch, but I do find myself wishing he'd keep saying something like, "Yeah, I got screwed over, and I'm not too happy about it. But there are billions of people who have got it much harder than me. If you're mad about the show, send ten bucks to Haiti or something."
posted by Blau at 2:37 AM on May 3, 2010 [11 favorites]


I'm always surprised at how tall that guy is. Why is that?
posted by crunchland at 2:45 AM on May 3, 2010


Yeah, I got screwed over, and I'm not too happy about it. But there are billions of people who have got it much harder than me.

I don't know if you watched the last episode on NBC but this is basically what he said after the final commercial break. He was actually a bit teary-eyed as he said it.

But there are billions of people who have got it much harder than me. If you're mad about the show, send ten bucks to Haiti or something."

I think he didn't do this because it doesn't really make sense? I mean, helping Haiti is well and good, but it doesn't really logically follow from being angry about O'Brien getting fired?
posted by JHarris at 2:45 AM on May 3, 2010 [11 favorites]


Takeaway for the tl;dw crowd: Conan O'Brien has blue eyes. And at least two blue shirts. His trademark hair wave is a species of combover. He will survive.
posted by chavenet at 2:52 AM on May 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


none of those late night guys age too terribly well, do they?
posted by billybobtoo at 3:15 AM on May 3, 2010


none of those late night guys age too terribly well, do they?

Even their business model is getting old:

- And given the revolutionary changes in lifestyle and media technology now taking place, who's thinking of long-term, future late-night hosts anyway? (...) "I will tell you that one of the other challenges of all the late news and late-night shows around the country is people tend to be getting up earlier in the morning these days because of commuting times," Wertlieb says. "And therefore, we are now challenged in not only competing with other channels and stations. We're challenged with competing with the pillow, with sleep, as people go to bed earlier. We're seeing early-morning viewing continuing to go up — with some stations around the country recently starting 4:30 a.m. newscasts."
posted by iviken at 3:41 AM on May 3, 2010


Yeah, I got screwed over, and I'm not too happy about it. But there are billions of people who have got it much harder than me.

Well, 60 minutes gets to edit those interviews however they want. He may have said stuff like that. It's never good to judge people by what they don't say in a heavily edited interview.
posted by delmoi at 4:00 AM on May 3, 2010 [6 favorites]


I agree that this is the wrong show, even considering that he admits he's got it easy, supports Haiti, etc. The one thing that late-night hosts don't want is gravitas -- it's the time of day when we intentionally do not think about things. Everybody needs it. I know the whole industry is full of backstabbing and plots and people's jobs and lots of money are on the line, but I do not want to empathize or narrativize or advocate for anything after 11:30 on weekdays. And I swear to god I will watch Friends reruns if you force me to.
posted by Valet at 4:05 AM on May 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


flapjax, I'm going to say it's because Conan actually seems like a real person. He is the guy you want as a neighbor, a drinking buddy. He isn't that smarmy jackass on TV making fun of other people's trials and tribulations and making millions doing so, while not taking into consideration his own. He's always done a lot of self-deprecating humor, but he's also whimsical enough to not make it seem like a drag.

I enjoyed this interview because it continued to emphasize what he said during his last night on the show while acknowledging that it wasn't fair, and they weren't nice about it, and it sucked, but he is going to be just fine; stop worrying about him. So much so, I almost found it lacking and repetitive. But then again, he's also not allowed to say any disparaging remarks about anyone involved in this, and even if he could, he's smart enough to know better.

It's refreshing to see raw emotions like his on TV during an interview like that. Someone that isn't pushing some sort of agenda, product or project. It could have just been another interview with a washed-up [The] Hills cast member, a politic trying to cleanse themselves of some sort of infidelity. So while yeah, in essence the issue is a tad overdone, 60 Minutes just wanted the rights to be able to say they had the first interview anyone could possibly get as per his contract; and comparatively, it could have been worse.

Maybe I'm the only one, but I think he deserved the television time after they put the muzzle on him.
posted by june made him a gemini at 4:08 AM on May 3, 2010 [14 favorites]


You know, I think it was unfortunate how things went down, especially considering how unfunny Jay Leno is, but he made out with, what, $32 million dollars at the end of it? I'm sorry, but the world's tiniest violin is booked solid for this shit.

Someone should make him an "I hosted the Tonight Show for a few months and all I got was this t-shirt, $30 million, and a show on cable. CABLE!" shirt. Christ.
posted by disillusioned at 4:10 AM on May 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


He had the greatest show in the history of television: "Late Night with Conan O'Brien".

He was given the greatest franchise in the history of television: "The Tonight Show".

He had the choice of either re-inventing himself for the Tonight Show, or repeating himself on the Tonight Show. Either option would have been acceptable.

Instead, he chose to do neither. He reinvented his set and his studio. His persona and comedy couldn't scale up to the new environment. His darkest most subversive bits couldn't even been attempted in the bright California sunshine, so that left only his silly stuff. But silliness itself needs something serious to play against, and in Los Angeles, Conan's original silliness had only the native silliness to subvert. And it wasn't a very interesting contest, watching him climb in and out of people's swimming pools pretending to be a pool boy. A total waste of the incredible comedy equity and good will he had built up over fifteen years of "Late Night at Conan O'Brien". The Tonight Show was simply a massive public failure, and if Conan is still stunned and reeling, it's no wonder.

Jay Leno survived his massive public failure at 10 o'clock. He is what he is and he does what he does. For Conan to imply that Leno is somehow at fault for the Tonight Show disaster does not reflect well on his character.

Conan's unique and precious comic gift should not be a main event in American culture. It's not half-time show at the Super Bowl. It does best off in a corner, in its own little clubhouse. TBS might just be far enough off the beaten path to be that place.
posted by Faze at 4:18 AM on May 3, 2010 [15 favorites]


I think he pulls off the beard.

The interview was meh, neither here nor there, but I don't get the sense that Conan is unaware that he's about the 6,000,000,000th worst-off person in the world. I am curious how long it takes to build a TV show audience and keep them. I would have thought it would be near instantaneously, but what do I know, I don't watch TV except via clips on youtube, so I'm not in the audience.

(The flip side is Jay Leno. From what I've seen on his TV show, it's bad. He should take his millions and do an hour-long car show every week, perhaps a good-spirited American take on Top Gear. He'd be great at that.)
posted by maxwelton at 4:30 AM on May 3, 2010 [3 favorites]


I'm always surprised at how tall that guy is. Why is that?


It's mostly his height, I think.
posted by unSane at 4:50 AM on May 3, 2010 [20 favorites]


I hope his depression doesn't make his TBS show even more self-deprecating.
posted by rageagainsttherobots at 4:51 AM on May 3, 2010


I'm always surprised at how tall that guy is. Why is that?

He's got long legs and an absurdly short torso. He's like an ill-proportioned stick drawing of a person.
posted by stavrogin at 4:59 AM on May 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


You know, I think it was unfortunate how things went down, especially considering how unfunny Jay Leno is, but he made out with, what, $32 million dollars at the end of it? I'm sorry, but the world's tiniest violin is booked solid for this shit.

We mourn for two reasons.

First, Conan O'Brien appears to be of that vanishingly rare breed, a genuinely nice guy who made it big. Most multi-millionaires are assholes, but he seems genuine, or at least as genuine as one can seem in a business that's entirely about perceptions. Towards the end the cracks showed a little, but what we saw through them was genuine Good Egg.

Second, we aren't just mourning for O'Brien. We're mourning for television. Whatever the reasons, we are now deprived of a hilarious show, and the medium as a whole is poorer for it. Maybe the TBS version will be as good, but maybe it won't.

His darkest most subversive bits couldn't even been attempted in the bright California sunshine, so that left only his silly stuff.

Is there some reason one can't be satirical in California? Are there anti-depressants in the water?
posted by JHarris at 5:01 AM on May 3, 2010 [4 favorites]


Things That Are True #297: If you are rich and famous and something personally painful happens to you, no matter how many times you say "I'm doing fine, things will work out, and I wouldn't change a thing about what I've done," thousands of people will line up to tell you to stop your whining if an interviewer asks whether you think what happened was fair, and you honestly tell him, "no."
posted by Pater Aletheias at 5:12 AM on May 3, 2010 [71 favorites]


In the few times I have tried to appreciate him, I have never found Conan O'Brien even slightly funny. Worn out Harvard Lampoon preppy humor at best.

Not that Leno is any better, but at least he knows he sucks.
posted by fourcheesemac at 5:14 AM on May 3, 2010


I just came in here to make the point that should always be made in these situations:

One of the prime reasons Conan's ratings sucked is that from 10 pm on NBC was a wasteland. Leno bombed at 10, which means no one watched NBC news at 11, which meant less people watched Conan at 1135.

That said Conan was struggling with the Tonight Show, but he needed more of a chance than NBC gave him and the NBC execs dumped a lot of the blame they should have shouldered on him.
posted by slapshot57 at 5:18 AM on May 3, 2010 [5 favorites]


I don't care about the Leno bashing, I'm not a big fan.

But Conan NOT= funny. He is an ass.
posted by Drasher at 5:26 AM on May 3, 2010


Here's a guy who got "screwed over" and walked away with tens of millions of dollars.

My apologies if I don't shed a tear.
posted by blue_beetle at 5:30 AM on May 3, 2010


Re: Jay Leno: He should take his millions and do an hour-long car show every week, perhaps a good-spirited American take on Top Gear. He'd be great at that.

Totally. He could call it Jay's Jalopy Journal. I would even consider watching that.
posted by wabbittwax at 5:37 AM on May 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


He is the guy you want as a neighbor, a drinking buddy

Funny, I've seen this thrown around about Leno. Really it applies to either of them, depending on who you want making sense (or fun) of a bewildering world while you polish off the last of that Chubby Hubby.

Me - I'd rather toss back a few with Coco, but lots of of people prefer someone more staid and predictable, and staid and predictable are Jay Leno's strong suits.

I remember this same (fun to have a beer with) thing in Bush v Gore/Kerry. Shit. Gore or Kerry might not have put the lampshade on their heads, and they'd have probably insisted on something imported, but we would have had a much more interesting conversation. Just depends what you want out of your drinking buddies, I guess.

We're mourning for television. Whatever the reasons, we are now deprived of a hilarious show, and the medium as a whole is poorer for it

Exactly. This was a war between the complacent and the avant-garde, and complacency won. It's not the end of the world, but there is a loss of potential. Television is a dominant art form on our society, and our society has decided it doesn't like good art. Or maybe NBC is just betting on the lowest common denominator, and honestly, that's a hard bet to lose.

Not to say that Conan's Tonight Show was or would have been THAT far out. But it could have been sometimes. At least Conan has the capacity for weird, thought-provoking shit. Leno is anti-thought.

posted by dirtdirt at 5:39 AM on May 3, 2010 [3 favorites]


When Jay Leno tells jokes, I want to punch him in the face. But, when he stops with the jokes and talks about cars, he is very interesting.
posted by chillmost at 5:46 AM on May 3, 2010 [13 favorites]


am aware that it must be really big news in America, because I keep seeing mention of it. It would appear to occupy a fairly large percentage of people's thoughts and conversations in the US.

The reason you keep hearing about it is that the media makes a big deal about it and so it's water cooler talk - like the weather or the game last night, something inoffensive to discuss with strangers.

Also a few internet people have latched on to it since they like Conan.

I don't think it occupies more than a very small percentage of some people's thoughts and conversations.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 5:52 AM on May 3, 2010


Why do people care about this stuff?

Three reasons. First The Tonight Show is a big fucking deal-- or at least it used to be. The host of The Tonight Show is the King of TV hosts with not only a vast audience but a lot of power to book guests. Johnny Carson's reign was like nothing else in television-- he got to futz around, ask a few questions, tell a few jokes, and he became one of the most beloved people in show biz history. There is something about that time slot-- after the news, before falling asleep, that creates (or used to create) an unprecedented feeling of intimacy between the host and the viewer. Being King is no joke-- it comes with all the perks you can imagine, power, adoration, money.

Second, there is a feeling that the underdog got shafted in an unfair play. Conan hung around playing in the minor leagues (the 12:30 spot) for years because NBC promised to bring him up to the majors and make him the star of the coveted 11:30 slot. But then they yanked him out again. Was it too soon for them to give up on Conan? I think it was. His first year or two as host of Late Night were terrible-- he didn't seem to know what he was doing, and there was talk that he should be fired, but then he got his stride and turned that show into one of the best (some may say The Best) talk/variety shows ever broadcast. Could he have done that with the 11:30 slot? I think so. He had the potential to do something far greater than Leno could ever hope for-- we know what kind of stuff Leno is capable of and it is the same old mediocre shit he has been turning out for years.

Which brings me to my last point, once again in American culture, bland crap triumphs over intellectual, observant, cutting-edge work. Leno is the Thomas Kincaide of TV personalities-- apparently lots and lots of Americans find him appealing while the rest of us scratching our heads. In books, movies, TV shows, art, food-- you name it-- the majority of Americans invariably pick the least interesting, the laziest choice-- culture by committee. So instead of being served something fresh and exciting (sometimes something unpalatable) by a gourmet chef, the producers have decided to go McDonalds Hamburger on us.

So you would think from reading the above that I am a vast consumer of late night shows-- but in fact I don't watch commercial TV, haven't for years. But it is still a big, fucking deal.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 5:53 AM on May 3, 2010 [20 favorites]


Conan may be an ass (what celebrity isn't), but he's just milking what he's got for all it's worth. Anyone who pretends that he wouldn't do the same in his shoes or that what he's doing is some sort of uniquely horrendous scam on the American public is being disingenuous.

The Hollywood Reporter dude writes that Conan's "becoming the very person he usually mocks, just another egocentric Hollywood type." What? "Becoming"? When was Conan not that person, other than maybe sometime in 1989? Just because he displays it in a very out-front, public, and perhaps unintentionally self-parodic way to "60 Minutes," you imply that he was some sort of saintly pristine non-egocentric prior to this? Guffaw .....
posted by blucevalo at 6:05 AM on May 3, 2010


I hope this interview fixes all that is bad in the world.
posted by turgid dahlia at 6:27 AM on May 3, 2010


I don't care about the Leno bashing, I'm not a big fan.

But Conan NOT= funny. He is an ass.


Agreed on Leno, the guy is a shameless backbiting, backstabbing tool. I also have never been a big fan of Conan's. He's always seemed a bit "too cool for school" to me, the kind who laughs at their own jokes and makes you think you're stupid if you don't "get it". Not really ready to call him an ass though. Leno's got that title in perpetuity.

The one good thing that came out the episode is that Letterman rose to the occasion and was in rare form with his Jay-bashing.
posted by fuse theorem at 6:28 AM on May 3, 2010


Real wit flows effortlessly, and I have seen that happen on talk shows, but I have seen a lot more strained, laborious efforts at comedy which are in the end, not very funny. I think that the whole idea of asking people to come up with original funny material five nights a week, may be asking too much...admittedly, they get paid very well to do it.
posted by grizzled at 6:29 AM on May 3, 2010


When Jay Leno tells jokes, I want to punch him in the face. But, when he stops with the jokes and talks about cars, he is very interesting.

Yep. I'm with flapjax when it comes to who the host is -- who really gives a shit? I don't think most people actually plan to watch late-night talk shows, they're just not ready to go to bed and they don't feel like reading. They expect to watch some vapid person who's famous for being famous being interviewed about some crap they're trying to peddle. But maybe vapid famous person will be drunk, or hot, or both, or maybe they'll hear a joke good enough to remember the next morning.

But Leno is really passionate about cars, motorcycles, and restoration. Watch some videos from Jay Leno's Garage -- Leno is likeable, unpretentious, and interesting.
posted by Killick at 6:36 AM on May 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


So, what's the consensus on Letterman?
posted by Harry at 6:47 AM on May 3, 2010


How many people actually watched Conan's Tonight Show nightly, or even his old show? Vs. how many people just like the idea of Conan, vs. the idea of Leno?
posted by smackfu at 6:48 AM on May 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


But Conan NOT= funny. He is an ass.

I strongly disagree.
posted by grubi at 6:59 AM on May 3, 2010 [3 favorites]


I must be weird. I like the idea of Conan, but I also like Jay Leno and David Letterman. I get that Conan is in pain over losing the show, but it's like he doesn't realize some people have real problems and he better get over his bitterness fast.

It was only recently that I realized how completely boring it is to see celebs be interviewed. Being a tad slow in understanding how PR works, it only occurred to me recently that the Tonight Show is just an extension of various movie studios and stuff, and hardly anything really interesting is going to happen. Unless Barack Obama is on.

Now that I think about it, I guess I am more likely to think Letterman does interesting interviews and asks what he wants and isn't hung up on being likeable. I really like Jay Leno's Jaywalking bit though. I also like watching him get along with everybody.

But Conan needs to stop talking and pretending what happened to him at NBC is newsworthy or remarkable. Most people know you don't get everything you want. A lot of people in the world are in pain right now, and that guy's taken care of for life.
posted by anniecat at 7:02 AM on May 3, 2010


Watch the interview before you snark. In it, Conan literally says "I did not get screwed." Really.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 7:04 AM on May 3, 2010 [4 favorites]


I wouldn't say Conan's humour is all that "intellectual" although I guess compared to Leno anything would be. It's not stupid but it's also really silly and not afraid to be (although it seemed like on the Tonight Show they actually were afraid to let loose and be silly enough). I think a silly tone is perfect for late night. The Daily Show/Colbert is funny, but the things they're making fun of are real and depressing, too depressing to be the last thing I see before sleep.

I miss Conan but I feel ambivalent about watching this interview. I hope re-hashing all this drama doesn't become his new schtick.
posted by amethysts at 7:04 AM on May 3, 2010


And why the beard? Here's what The Guardian wrote in 2001 about Al Gore's beard:

"It is the beard of the hermit, a former warrior sorely done by and meditating in his manly cave until the people realise their folly and come to beg him to rid the land of rampant misrule."


Beard bashing... second only to Leno bashing.
posted by fairmettle at 7:20 AM on May 3, 2010


Here's a guy who got "screwed over" and walked away with tens of millions of dollars.

Why do people keep saying this? I thought MetaFilter was crassly cynical about the evils of capitalism and the tendrils of commerce creeping into all forms of artistic expression, the perils of selling out, the dangers of making decisions for the sake of monetary gain rather than spiritual or aesthetic fulfillment. And here we have a guy who wanted to do a particular thing, had a particular aspiration for his particular talents, and was basically forced to give up his dream in exchange for a bundle of money. Isn't that exactly the sort of thing we tend to get pissed off about around here?
posted by shakespeherian at 7:27 AM on May 3, 2010 [15 favorites]


Isn't that exactly the sort of thing we tend to get pissed off about around here?

Naw, man, Metafilter gets pissed off about everything. I mean, MeFites were getting pissed off over a website that makes it slightly easier to view Calvin and Hobbes strips.
posted by JDHarper at 7:34 AM on May 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


How many people actually watched Conan's Tonight Show nightly, or even his old show? Vs. how many people just like the idea of Conan, vs. the idea of Leno?

Doesn't matter. Whether you think he's funny or not, Conan has enormous reverence for the Tonight Show as comedy brand. There was a time when a stand up comic could make their name (FF to Steven Wright interview) on getting Johnny Carson's approval and appearing on the Tonight Show. Comics dreamed about it, hoped for it, worked their asses off for it. Who was the first stand-up performer on Jay's new Tonight Show? Sarah Palin, who as far as anyone knows, hasn't stepped onto a comedy stage in her life before that moment.

I'll be honest, Conan's Tonight Show was really hit or miss for me. On the other hand, I've never been big on late night as a genre - I think monologue bits are too short to be funny, and semi-scripted celebrity interviews bore the crap out of me. But this isn't even a fight between one guy who's funny and one guy who isn't. This is a fight between one guy who values comedy as a tightly-honed craft and is willing to challenge his audience to get there, and one guy who's primary comic trademarks are making tourists in New York and headline copywriters look stupid because they make mistakes.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 7:35 AM on May 3, 2010 [4 favorites]


Someone should make him an "I hosted the Tonight Show for a few months and all I got was this t-shirt, $30 million, and a show on cable. CABLE!" shirt. Christ.

And you know what? He'd totally wear that shirt.
posted by mcwetboy at 7:40 AM on May 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


Your former bosses or colleagues not calling you? Yeah, that goes with being fired, son. Matter of fact, get used to them acting skittish towards you should you should encounter them in a social situation.

I've read in multiple places that when you have an employee who isn't going to work out, the best is to inform them as soon as possible so that nobody's time gets wasted and both parties can move on. I'm not party to the inner workings of NBC, but I'm pretty sure that in keeping Leno on they already had misgivings about Conan and decided to pull the plug once it was determined that he was never going to make it as the host of the Tonight Show instead of waiting around for him to become entrenched and make an even bigger mess of things.

The network strategy, of which he was a willing participant, wasn't working out and he was the fall guy. He's a smart guy and a twenty-year veteran of NBC. He knew the odds, the payoff and the consequences of success and failure in that position and to walk around now like a shell-shocked prince who's been denied a throne for no reason is disingenuous.

And this whole nonsense about the torch having been passed and then the backsies happening is ludicrous. Carson, as talented and gifted as he was, should've never tried to play kingmaker. That set a really bad precedence where current second-string talent comes to believe that if they hang around long enough, not only will they get the starting quarterback's job, but they'll actually deserve it. And unfortunately NBC rewards loyalty, so you end up suffering through season after season of mediocrity because they won't look outside the company for talent that can actually do a better job.

I see Conan playing the hurt wave for awhile and then settling back into what he really is. He took the cable job because that was the best he was going to get and he knows it. See you in the shitter, Coco.
posted by jsavimbi at 7:41 AM on May 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


And you know what? He'd totally wear that shirt.

He totally would, I mean, he really would. When my friend interned on the show he made him a cheap, spray-painted t-shirt, and Conan wore it to work. Awesome guy. But to even it out, my friend also spoke to Jay once and said he was nice. No word on Letterman.
posted by Partario at 7:48 AM on May 3, 2010


For all the ratings talk:

"Seven weeks in, Leno is averaging a 1.0 in the 18-49 demo while David Letterman averages a 0.8. These are precisely the same numbers "The Tonight Show" and "The Late Show" were pulling seven weeks into Conan’s “Tonight” tenure"
posted by dig_duggler at 7:48 AM on May 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


Watch the interview before you snark. In it, Conan literally says "I did not get screwed." Really.

That interview last night - in all of its HD glory - was disgusting. Those sad eyes, that bulging nerve on his face. Steve Kroft clicking his pen over and over again, creating a purple stain on the bottom of his hand.

Regardless of what Conan said at the end of the interview, HR nails it on the head:

"It's crucial to me that anyone ... take away anything from this, it's that I'm fine," Conan O'Brien says in his "60 Minutes" interview with Steve Kroft. "I'm doing great. I hope people still find me comedically absurd and ridiculous."

If there was one statement that encapsulated the awkward mishap that was O'Brien's post-contractual-TV-blackout coming-out party, it was this rather transparent attempt to contradict a portrait he probably didn't intend to offer on national TV. Because the O'Brien on display is clearly not "fine," but a deeply hurt individual licking his wounds for all to see."


Having said all this, it's already well known Jeff Zucker and the suits are driving NBC into the ground.
posted by phaedon at 7:51 AM on May 3, 2010


Harry: So, what's the consensus on Letterman?

Well, if Letterman fans were Norwegian Black Metal fans, Letterman would be their Satan and they'd be burning down churches in his name. Thankfully, staying up late at night to watch a comedy show means you don't have much energy for arson.
posted by Kattullus at 7:51 AM on May 3, 2010 [4 favorites]


This is what I am gathering from this thread:

1.) Rich people are forbidden to have a sense of loss over anything non-monetary.

2.) Rich people are not allowed to care about what they do with their lives so long as they have money.

3.) If rich people don't constantly tell other people how bad the rest of the world has it, they're insufferable assholes.

4.) Rich people are not allowed to have interviews because people taking stupid chances crossing the border illegally into another country and die doing it (which happens daily, by the way) should take precedence. ALWAYS.
posted by Malice at 8:04 AM on May 3, 2010 [32 favorites]


Nobody seems to remember what Jay Leno was like when he was making his bones. His comedy was a perfect fit for the pre-CBS Letterman. He had a real mean streak. He was vicious in calling out the culture. And when he came on Letterman's show, he would KILL.

When he got the Tonight Show, I thought there was no way it was going to work because Leno was harder on the vapid celebrity culture than Dave ever was. And Dave's mean streak was why HE never got the gig.

He made it work (to the extent that it did -- and he was the top dog ratings wise) by completely losing that sarcastic edge. And becoming the Leno nobody likes.

But when you watched the NBC Letterman, Seinfeld and Leno were the two that you thought were bound for glory.
posted by Trochanter at 8:05 AM on May 3, 2010 [4 favorites]


Lots of people in this thread have been decrying that nuance and complexity aren't allowed in late-night TV anymore, but no one's mentioned Craig Ferguson. His show is arguably more intelligent than Conan's, and it's just as edgy as Conan ever was. Edgy not in a masturbating-bear sense, but in an earnestly-telling-Britney-Spears-to-go-to-AA sense.

Assuming it happens, I'll be excited to see what Craig can do with The Late Show. I think that his intelligence actually has more of a mainstream potential than Conan's has: you don't have to be an internet geek to understand it; you just need to pay attention to the world around you.

Also, he and Letterman seem to be on the same side, which won't hurt.
posted by roll truck roll at 8:06 AM on May 3, 2010 [15 favorites]


He's got long legs and an absurdly short torso. He's like an ill-proportioned stick drawing of a person.

I think it may be because when I picture him, he's doing his monologue and there's nothing near him to give him a sense of scale. And then when he is standing next to someone, you realize how tall he actually is.

It's sort of the same reaction when you see a workman up changing the bulbs on a traffic light, and suddenly you realize those things are actually 6 feet tall.
posted by crunchland at 8:13 AM on May 3, 2010


I just ran across this comic and it seemed to want to go in the thread.
posted by Valet at 8:13 AM on May 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


I think that the whole idea of asking people to come up with original funny material five nights a week, may be asking too much..

probably not that hard when there were only one or two shows competing for the talent but with the dozens of talks shows out there these days I think the talent gets spread pretty thin. I've always been a proponent that there are only a handful of truly funny people in the world at any moment in time and it's a rare, lucky coincidence when two or more find themselves on the same team these days.
posted by any major dude at 8:24 AM on May 3, 2010


I think it may be because when I picture him, he's doing his monologue and there's nothing near him to give him a sense of scale. And then when he is standing next to someone, you realize how tall he actually is.

Part of it too though is that he's not just tall, he's proportionately large. He doesn't have long spindly limbs or a giraffe neck or anything. Everything is the right size relative to everything else (aside from his enormous head), so the assumption on seeing him is that he's average height.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:25 AM on May 3, 2010


none of those late night guys age too terribly well, do they?

I beg to differ.
posted by FelliniBlank at 8:31 AM on May 3, 2010 [3 favorites]


I was disappointed that he did not tell me what is best in life.
posted by adamdschneider at 8:31 AM on May 3, 2010 [8 favorites]


I never before understood that some people think of sympathy as a non-renewable resource. If I feel bad for a man who had his dream yanked away from him just as he'd reached it, it doesn't follow that I feel any less bad for those who suffer in a natural disaster. For me sympathy is a state. My sympathy level gets set at different levels for different people. My heart does not diminish if I share in someone else's pain.
posted by Kattullus at 8:33 AM on May 3, 2010 [47 favorites]


Surprised by the way this thread is going; I just sorta assumed Mefites would be on a similar page as me on this topic for some reason. Conan is grrreat in subtle ways that are hard to pinpoint, but he's not snobby at all while still actually clearly having a brain (his interview on npr made me smile), and yes, he is wildly self-deprecating in that way that makes certain folks (cough ahem, me) wanna rip his tie and belt off, rowr. I have these fond memories of writing college papers in my tiny dorm freshman year to his voice, where the TV was connected to the fridge in some bizarre Frankenstein contraption and the only channel I got was Conan's. And laughing my ass off with a couple friends while killing time by just having it on years later...Old Timey Baseball! Conan vs. Bear!

The one thing that used to disappoint me about Conan was the occasional but consistent fat joke; I always figured he'd be above that. But other than that...

Leno on the other hand. Good god. It boggles my mind anyone can stand to look at or listen to that man for more than 5 seconds. That "vicious mean streak" mentioned above in sort of admiring terms like it's a witty and honest send up of celebrity culture? The vast majority of the time it's just straight-up fucked up sexism and misogyny to a level that makes me want to stab my eyeballs. One more oblique "I wish this celebrity babe would blow me and I'm gonna say so right to her face the second we meet!" and I was ready to take a bat to my TV, ugh. Horrible.
posted by ifjuly at 8:41 AM on May 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


Jay Leno in 2004:
About six months ago, I sat down with the folks at NBC, and they say "we want to re-up"...so I said, "Fine, what do you want to do?". They said "we want to do five more years", and I said "Great!"...that was six months ago, time went by. There's all this talk about Conan O'Brien - will he go to ABC, will he go to one of the other networks - and they came to me and they said "We don't want to lose Conan O'Brien"...they said "We think Conan would be a good replacement". As I do. Conan is a gentleman, funny, the hottest late night guy out there, excellent. I said "you know something? I don't want to lose Conan either."
...
Y'know, when I took the show over? Boy, there was a lot of animosity between me and Dave [Letterman] and who was going to get it. Quite frankly, a lot of good friendships were permanently damaged and I don't want to see that happening to anyone ever again. This show is like a dynasty - you hold it and then you hand it off to the next person. So I don't want to see all the fighting and the 'who's better?' nasty things back and forth in the press. So here it is: Conan, it's yours. See you in five years, buddy.
posted by kirkaracha at 8:43 AM on May 3, 2010 [5 favorites]


I have no opinion on any of the chat-show-who-did-or-did-not-get-screwed things and have seen neither host more than once (although I saw Leno at the White House writers dinner and he wad SHIT) but I just wanted to remind you all that Conan O'Brien wrote what is possibly the most oft-quoted (on Metafilter) episode of the Simpsons, Marge & the Monorail. For that, and that alone he will always have a place in my heart.
posted by jontyjago at 8:44 AM on May 3, 2010 [8 favorites]


For those mentioning the money, it doesn't buy happiness.

Fulfilling a lifelong dream does, and that is what he had. He idolized Johnny Carson and wanted to host The Tonight Show. He thought he made it and had it ripped away from him. His pain is no less real due to his net worth.

It has all the makings of a Greek Tragedy, depending on how the next few chapters work out.
posted by Mick at 8:46 AM on May 3, 2010 [4 favorites]


Conan may be an ass

This doesn't even compute. Someone would have to work pretty hard to make a case for this, I think. And even then, Conan would probably say in all honesty, yes those are some of my faults. Which would then, again, make him not an ass.
posted by SpacemanStix at 8:55 AM on May 3, 2010 [6 favorites]


Blau: I think Conan O'Brien's a real mensch, but I do find myself wishing he'd keep saying something like, "Yeah, I got screwed over, and I'm not too happy about it. But there are billions of people who have got it much harder than me. If you're mad about the show, send ten bucks to Haiti or something."

To be fair, during his last week at the Tonight Show he did a segment every evening raising money for Haiti and continued to raise money after the show ended.
posted by joedan at 8:55 AM on May 3, 2010 [3 favorites]


The appeal of this falls along generational lines. Conan is indentifiable to Gen-Xers and Millenials, and Leno is indentifiable to Baby Boomers.

The up and coming Conan was promised something and then shafted by Leno, and the inept administration at NBC.

Draw your own parallels to current events.
posted by codacorolla at 8:58 AM on May 3, 2010 [4 favorites]


Much as I love Conan, he's no Craig Ferguson.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:00 AM on May 3, 2010 [5 favorites]


You know, I got laid off recently and got a decent amount of severence for it, so I don't expect anyone to feel sorry for me, but it still sucks. I totally get how Conan feels.
posted by empath at 9:07 AM on May 3, 2010


joedan: "Blau: I think Conan O'Brien's a real mensch, but I do find myself wishing he'd keep saying something like, "Yeah, I got screwed over, and I'm not too happy about it. But there are billions of people who have got it much harder than me. If you're mad about the show, send ten bucks to Haiti or something."

To be fair, during his last week at the Tonight Show he did a segment every evening raising money for Haiti and continued to raise money after the show ended.
"

Also, he personally chipped in to help out his staff, from the writers to the camera crews, many of whom had relocated cross-coast after the show moved to LA.
posted by ShawnStruck at 9:11 AM on May 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


How long ago was the interview taped, even though it was only broadcast last night? I know there were clips of him onstage doing his current live standup thing, but watching 60 Minutes last night I got the impression that the interview portion was taped a while ago. They were talking about the beard like it was something new, and he's been sporting a beard at least as long as that Twitter account has been around.

Anyway, I think a lot of the reactions here to Conan feeling sorry for himself are surprising. People seem to be acting like the interview was done live or taped on Friday or something. I seriously doubt Conan's as glum now as he might have been a few months ago.
posted by emelenjr at 9:22 AM on May 3, 2010


I thought this was Conan's O'Brien's first interview since not getting the show.
posted by !Jim at 9:24 AM on May 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yup. From 10-11 PM (Central Time) we watch Stewart/Colbert, then we kill time until Craig Ferguson comes on. Or we watch whatever random selection has risen to the top of the Netflix queue. I can honestly say I have never seen a single second of Leno's Tonight Show and I would only tune in to Conan if he had a guest or a band I wanted to see (and that wasn't very often).

So, tl;dr: I don't really give a damn one way or the other, though I will always have a soft spot for Conan for writing the Simpsons "Monorail" episode.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 9:28 AM on May 3, 2010


Hollywood Reporter: Why Conan should not have done '60 Minutes':

"Sorry, Conan, but the illegal immigrants I heard about in the newsmagazine's first segment who died trying to cross a canal to get into this country had it a tad worse than you."


Can we turn this into a thread about how horrible the American paparazzi gossip parasite press is? I mean, seriously Hollywood Reporter? You're going to do a "let's look at the big picture" take on this one? You're going to put things "in perspective" for us? I mean you could at least try to read what he actually said before spinning it like Conan thinks he has it worse than dead would-be immigrants sneaking across the border. FFS.
posted by Kirk Grim at 9:28 AM on May 3, 2010 [4 favorites]


Totally. He could call it Jay's Jalopy Journal. I would even consider watching that.

Exactly, and if Jay wasn't a jerk, he should have turned his hour into the American Top Gear. He's personable and knowledgeable enough it would have been amazing, take a look at Jay's Garage. He manages to take things that are really complicated and explain them in an everyman tone, so you don't feel stupid or an outsider. You're visiting your best friend's garage who just so happens to have every car, ever.

I think the most logical explanation for all this happened when Conan explained how much more expensive it would have been to boot Jay than to boot Conan (the low 9 digit figure was several multiples of Conan's exit figure). If NBC wasn't so, corporate, such a stupid mistake arguably wouldn't have happened int he first place. I'm sure some very smart, fancy pants educated accountants came up with Jay Leno projected earnings based on late night and came to an acceptable, astronomical sum. Anyone who has ever worked with talent knows that talent isn't a car you produce with somewhat stable sales forecasting.

But that's not the issue, Conan is largely the story of being shafted by The Man. There's a certain Death of a Salesman or Noah Baumbach aspect to it. He wrote some of the best Simpsons episodes at the time the Simpsons were the best. And then what? Languishing around on Late Night for a very long time, except he was good. He was subversive when subversive meant Dancing Itos. If anything he's the embodiment of Generation X counter culture where arguably no counter culture existed. And in age where you're suppose to work at a company for 2 years and move on, he was loyal (the ultimate counter culture gesture?). He was loyal to a guy who had a very public, very dirty battle with David Letterman over the Tonight Show. But hey, he took Leno at his word right? Your word doesn't get much bigger than national television, announcing a very methodical 5 year transition plan.

And he waits, and waits ... finally gets his own show and is considered a failure before it started. Less than year! I've seen fairly terrible shows get picked up for at least two seasons, but it was fairly clear that it was, "If Leno's new experiment doesn't work, you're going to have to move over." By people who he went to college with no less, not even giving him the courtesy phone call ... but it is just business right?

If this isn't the embodiment of modern corporatism I do not know what is. Keep working hard, you're doing great work, hey we love that you come in during the weekend, when your boss leaves you're taking his spot we promise, that's why we aren't giving you a raise now you see, just stick with us ... and oh wait well we were going to promote you but you see John from accounting, he's doing a real great job and we really think he'd be the best person here, it is just business, oh he plays poker with us on Fridays, that has nothing to do with it, just business you see, but we want you to know how much we value your loyalty, when he's gone ... you're our main man. Unless of course, analysts don't like our quarterly profit projections, then we may need to outsource your department entirely ...
posted by geoff. at 9:33 AM on May 3, 2010 [12 favorites]


I just wanted to remind you all that Conan O'Brien wrote what is possibly the most oft-quoted (on Metafilter) episode of the Simpsons, Marge & the Monorail. For that, and that alone he will always have a place in my heart.

Amen to that. The only joke Conan ever had to write to be among the greats is:
HOMER: Donuts. Is there anything they can't do?
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 10:02 AM on May 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


The appeal of this falls along generational lines. Conan is indentifiable to Gen-Xers and Millenials, and Leno is indentifiable to Baby Boomers.

Oh for fucks sake. I'm a baby boomer; I can't stand Leno. Try: Leno is cat nip to people who like Dan Brown and James Cameron. Conan is preferred by anyone with half a brain.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 10:18 AM on May 3, 2010


Ack! My comment should have begun: The appeal of this falls along generational lines. Conan is indentifiable to Gen-Xers and Millenials, and Leno is indentifiable to Baby Boomers. as I was quoting someone else.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 10:19 AM on May 3, 2010


Conan is preferred by anyone with half a brain.

um, thanks?
posted by found missing at 10:27 AM on May 3, 2010


I just want to know when we'll see the masturbating bear again.
posted by hellojed at 10:28 AM on May 3, 2010


Why do people care about this stuff?

For the same reasons you care about stuff. Think of something you care about and that a friend or relative doesn't. It's like that but in reverse for you in this instance. Dead fucking simple really.

but it's like he doesn't realize some people have real problems and he better get over his bitterness fast

It's not like that all, I believe, or perhaps I live in a different world where everyone I know complains about things happening in their personal and professional lives even though other people have "real" problems. Where do we go to find out if our problems are real or not? Who are the righteous blowhards we should consult for that? I'm not rich but I can identify and sympathize with the utter bullshit that went down in this instance (having worked for a few corporations in my time and dealt with the politics) and I apologize for being so crass and selfish and worrying at all about my own problems and discussing them when asked, when really I shouldn't be complaining in an Internet forum because others are worse off than me and pointing fingers at those who aren't but complain nonetheless is fun, or something.

Think of the children my friends. The children.

Should I care what keyboard I'm typing this on?
posted by juiceCake at 10:41 AM on May 3, 2010 [5 favorites]


"Sorry, Conan, but the illegal immigrants I heard about in the newsmagazine's first segment who died trying to cross a canal to get into this country had it a tad worse than you."

Eh ... 60 Minutes always does this, with serious segments and a celebrity segment. Conan had no idea what the other segments would be.
posted by krinklyfig at 10:45 AM on May 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


posted by hellojed I just want to know when we'll see the masturbating bear again.

You won't. NBC still owns it. So, say hello to the Self-Pleasuring Panda!
posted by mattdidthat at 10:48 AM on May 3, 2010


Totally. He could call it Jay's Jalopy Journal. I would even consider watching that.


Oh, don't let him take that too!
Actually, like many others have said in this thread and past threads, I love Jay's Garage but think he's a mediocre comedian. I'm sad to see Conan off the air for the time being, but he's a good guy, he'll get through it; comforted by his millions of dollars and fans.
posted by Demogorgon at 10:54 AM on May 3, 2010


When he got the Tonight Show, I thought there was no way it was going to work because Leno was harder on the vapid celebrity culture than Dave ever was. And Dave's mean streak was why HE never got the gig.

It's a lot more complicated than that. Dave was lead to believe that it was his to take or leave, fwiw.

One of the reasons people rake Jay over the coals so much is that he's happy to take the job whenever someone else gets screwed - twice.
posted by krinklyfig at 10:59 AM on May 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


I wasn't saying anything about what sort of person Leno is, or whether he's any good now. I was saying that before he got the Tonight Show he was one of the best stand-ups working.
posted by Trochanter at 11:14 AM on May 3, 2010


Much as I love Conan, he's no Craig Ferguson.

I think Craig Ferguson is a smart and talented guy, but he suffers from an annoying habit that he shares with Jon Stewart, which is a seemingly compulsive need to mug for the camera and milk the audience for laughs after Every. Single. Joke.

Seriously—the way he grins and makes goo-goo eyes at the viewer after each witty bon mot, he might as well be twirling a cigar in the air and asking "Ain't I a little stinker?"
posted by Atom Eyes at 11:21 AM on May 3, 2010


Faze: “Conan's unique and precious comic gift should not be a main event in American culture.”

A fucking talk show should not be a main event in American culture.
posted by koeselitz at 11:30 AM on May 3, 2010


I didn't think Conan came across very well in the interview. He didn't look good and he didn't have very much interesting stuff to say. That's mostly probably because he was legally prohibited from disparaging his former bosses. I also didn't think 60 Minutes did a very good job of framing the piece or making it interesting enough.
posted by cell divide at 11:32 AM on May 3, 2010


"Even scenes from his comedy tour that should have shown O'Brien employing success as the best revenge had a sad quality to them. Listening to the comedian perform songs recounting his struggle, I was reminded of Jason Segel's pathetic character in "Forgetting Sarah Marshall," singing silly ditties to deal with the pain of getting dumped.

Whoever said that seems to have forgotten he is a *performer,* and he was performing before an audience. That has been his comic persona since he's been in the public eye, and probably since he was a little kid. The very first skit on his NBC show involved him hanging himself in the dressing room, rather than try to follow Letterman.

He actually made people really uncomfortable back then, because they didn't know how real the self-hatred and awkwardness was. Then he hit a sweet spot where the combination of confidence and self-deprecation really really worked. Lately it's a little too pat, in my very humble opinion- I don't necessarily always buy it anymore. But that takes nothing away from Mr. O'Brien being a comic genius and, by all reports, a great person too.
posted by drjimmy11 at 12:11 PM on May 3, 2010


If a nationally televised talk show shouldn't be a main event in American culture, what should?
posted by monosyllabic at 12:12 PM on May 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


Disappointed that the interview made no mention of the fact that the best guests were being booked on the crappy 10pm Leno show. I think that this was the real element of sabotage in the whole affair. That, and wow is that live show he's touring with now pathetic!.
posted by nimmpau at 12:15 PM on May 3, 2010


It's not like that all, I believe, or perhaps I live in a different world where everyone I know complains about things happening in their personal and professional lives even though other people have "real" problems.

You're right, of course. I was feeling really bitter this morning at my health insurance provider. I'm still bitter, but coping. But I shouldn't take it out on the fabulously wealthy. It's just jealousy. Can I take back what I said?
posted by anniecat at 12:25 PM on May 3, 2010


I'm always amazed at the concept of a lead-in. I don't think I've ever watched a show simply because I watched what was on before it. Maybe in the age before remote controls and we'd have to get up and turn the channel, but nowadays? I'm flipping through channels faster than those people in cup-stacking championships are stacking and unstacking their cup towers.

I can never recall watching a show I wanted to watch, then staying on the same channel through another show, then the news, and then the following show, unless that was what I had already wanted to do.
posted by notmydesk at 12:27 PM on May 3, 2010


I was very excited for the interview, but I ended up just feeling depressed after watching it.

What was wrong with the vein by his eye? Why was it all popping out like that? Conan said something like, "I sleep well at night" which I know is figurative, but DAMN if he looks like he isn't sleeping at all.

And the show DID look pathetic. I thought, "Oh, this will be funny!" but I just felt embarrassed and sad when they showed the clips. Like there was an air of "Dance Monkey, Dance!"
posted by Locative at 12:35 PM on May 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


I can never recall watching a show I wanted to watch, then staying on the same channel through another show, then the news, and then the following show, unless that was what I had already wanted to do.

Yeah, I'm mostly with you on this, though I wonder if it's more the people who are half-paying attention and half-doing something else. I think I've left the TV on one channel after watching something, and TV news and late night talk shows are usually something I only have on as background noise.
posted by JenMarie at 12:37 PM on May 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


Disappointed that the interview made no mention of the fact that the best guests were being booked on the crappy 10pm Leno show.

No kidding, when Conan's old SNL friends (Norm MacDonald, Jon Lovitz) kept showing up as the first guest and had nothing to promote, you could tell the show was hurting.
posted by Gary at 12:39 PM on May 3, 2010


If a nationally televised talk show shouldn't be a main event in American culture, what should?

Gladiators! Bring back the gladiators! You could make a reality show out of it: Who Wants to be America's Next Top Gladiator?

Honestly, compared to a lot of the things aired on American TV, the Tonight Show looks like Hamlet.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 12:40 PM on May 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


notmydesk: "I can never recall watching a show I wanted to watch, then staying on the same channel through another show, then the news, and then the following show, unless that was what I had already wanted to do."

I think you're hitting on something really important. The standard network broadcast day (morning news/chat show, kids shows, soap operas, kids shows, news, sitcoms, movie, news, late-night talk show) is based on a lifestyle and schedule that aren't really the norm anymore. It shouldn't surprise us too much that the networks and shows that still adhere to that schedule will get gradually more predictable as the people who grew up with it age.
posted by roll truck roll at 12:43 PM on May 3, 2010


I'm glad, after reading through this thread, that I'm not the only one who really feels that it was necessary for Coco to insert an obligatory but-kids-are-still-starving-in-the-developing-world-so-who-am-I-to-complain line. (Assuming, of course, that he didn't actually say something like that and it just happened to end up on the cutting room floor.) He also comes off a lot better in the video itself than he does in either the freeze frame (maybe it's just that he's not wearing as much makeup as he did on the show, but he looks quite a bit older) or in the transcript. He seems to have ditched that boyish look, at least for the time being; I could imagine him and Kroft hanging out in McSorley's and Kroft going, "Nah, kid, you got screwed! Fuck that Leno and his fuckin' cars!" and O'Brien going, "Nah, Steve, it's not a thing, kids are starving in Japan, ya know."
posted by Halloween Jack at 12:46 PM on May 3, 2010


Nobody seems to remember what Jay Leno was like when he was making his bones. His comedy was a perfect fit for the pre-CBS Letterman. He had a real mean streak. He was vicious in calling out the culture. And when he came on Letterman's show, he would KILL.

I seem to remember him being referred to as the "nice guy" back then, that even at the time his humor was fairly bland and inoffensive.
posted by JHarris at 1:28 PM on May 3, 2010


nimmpau: That, and wow is that live show he's touring with now pathetic!

Where did you see it?
posted by found missing at 1:41 PM on May 3, 2010


He didn't get the ratings he was hired to get and television is not a sentimental business. I am sure I would be mad at first, too, but he should really count his blessings -- he does has a fan base who supports him, he got more good press (and for failing!) than most people plugging their work could ever hope to get, and he can still land another gig -- one that would be a better fit than the Tonight Show. He's young, he's healthy, and he's got an audience rooting for him. There are far worse problems in the world than getting the boot from a job where you weren't thriving...
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 1:42 PM on May 3, 2010


I am just grateful that Conan decided to "do the right thing" and leave NBC, because I think Fallon easily has the best show of all three parties involved, if only because he's a likable personality and is fun to watch. And The Roots are pretty swell too.
posted by erstwhile at 1:48 PM on May 3, 2010


I was always surprised at how (comparatively) unfunny Conan was on the Tonight Show compared to Late Night - it was like he was being straitjacketed into doing an impression of a Tonight Show host even after years of growing his own style in the former gig. I wasn't a regular watcher, so perhaps he got better as he went along.

I was also surprised at how much flack he got for what were clearly NBCs screw-ups. The Leno-News-O'Brien block was just incredibly ill-conceived and could only have ever ended in NBC throwing away money. Audience talk show burnout, Leno booking guests first, the uncomfortable weirdness of the whole situation...it was never going to end well.

Plus, apropos of little, I have it on good authority that Leno molests badgers.
posted by Sparx at 1:54 PM on May 3, 2010


found missing:Where did you see it?

Did not see the live show, personally, in person. But from the clip, the song was very lame. Sorry to give that impression.
posted by nimmpau at 1:56 PM on May 3, 2010


Did not see the live show, personally, in person. But from the clip, the song was very lame. Sorry to give that impression.

Oh, one of those 'I decide, you report' situations, then.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:04 PM on May 3, 2010


I really don't get all the snark going on here. Conan was asked by 60 Minutes to do an interview about losing the Tonight Show. Why is everyone expecting him to talk about Haiti, poverty, and all the other ills in the world? Besides, as many people have commented, Conan did raise money for Haiti while his show was still on, and he has done many other good deeds, even as things in his own life weren't going his way. I didn't hear him say a single thing on the Tonight Show or on the 60 Minutes interview about how rough he has it, or how everyone should pity him. In fact, I'd say he's been trying to do just the opposite by remaining upbeat up till the last minutes of his last Tonight Show and by tempering his comments toward Leno and NBC and trying to reassure people that he's doing fine.

I also thought the 60 Minutes interview was sort of flat, mainly because most of what Conan was asked was stuff that anyone who had been keeping up with the whole to-do probably already knew about. But I didn't see any bitterness or wallowing in self-pity. I saw a guy who was trying to answer questions in a civil manner (I'm sure this is at least partially due to the contract he has with NBC, although I still maintain that Conan's a classy guy), and, yeah, was a little bit bummed out. But seriously, who wouldn't be bummed to lose their dream job?

Bottom line: he got asked to do an interview about something sucky that happened to him that people were curious about. Take it for what it is.
posted by rebel_rebel at 2:06 PM on May 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm glad, after reading through this thread, that I'm not the only one who really feels that it was necessary for Coco to insert an obligatory but-kids-are-still-starving-in-the-developing-world-so-who-am-I-to-complain line. (Assuming, of course, that he didn't actually say something like that and it just happened to end up on the cutting room floor.)

I don't get why this "needs to be said" when he's said it multiple times at this point. Hell, half the point of his final going-away speech on the tonight show was, "You know what. Don't feel bad for me. I've been just incredibly fucking lucky in my life. You have no idea. Just luckier than I have any right to be."

Does that really need to be every other word out of his mouth?
posted by sparkletone at 2:14 PM on May 3, 2010 [3 favorites]


because I think Fallon easily has the best show of all three parties involved, if only because he's a likable personality and is fun to watch. And The Roots are pretty swell too.

I'm betting you're under 30, aren't you?
posted by crunchland at 2:36 PM on May 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


nimmpau, oh, I asked because I thought maybe you went to an early version. I saw it and had a great time, laughed, wet my pants, etc. (as did the everyone else, judging from the standing o, and the wet seats.)
posted by found missing at 3:08 PM on May 3, 2010


Also, before you get mad about Conan's payout, its worth noting that a significant chunk of what could have been Conan's went to pay staff and Conan paid staff that didn't get severance packages out of the rest. He did something similar during the writers' strike. The live show, whether it sucks or not, is employing tons of his old talent. And the only reason the payout (which was a contractual obligation on NBC's part) was to provide reasonable disincentive for doing exactly what NBC did: moving the Tonight Show to accommodate Leno. Rather than snark at Conan, somebody should be congratulating his agent and manager on their tremendous foresight.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 5:26 PM on May 3, 2010 [4 favorites]


I really don't get all the snark going on here. Conan was asked by 60 Minutes to do an interview about losing the Tonight Show. Why is everyone expecting him to talk about Haiti, poverty, and all the other ills in the world?

THANK YOU. I mean, Jeez, whether you like or dislike Conan's style of humor, whether you watched the show or not, is entirely your lookout. But it looks like people are lining up to take turns dancing on the guy's fucking grave in here, showing off how cool they are, all "Look at me, I dissed Conan!"
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:10 PM on May 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


Sooo... do normal humans even have that weird vein under Conan's eye that looks like its about to explode, or is that a special surgical implant?

Because according to BME, prosthetic guinea worms are the hottest new trend since vajazzling.
posted by dgaicun at 6:13 PM on May 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


I want to see Conan go on Letterman. That would be something.
posted by Diskeater at 6:18 PM on May 3, 2010 [6 favorites]


Also that Hollywood Reporter piece is the douchiest treatment of Conan I've seen since that comment I just made.
posted by dgaicun at 6:19 PM on May 3, 2010


I really don't get all the snark going on here. Conan was asked by 60 Minutes to do an interview about losing the Tonight Show. Why is everyone expecting him to talk about Haiti, poverty, and all the other ills in the world?

Indeed. it's bizarre. Conan didn't even comment about how horrible Flash is for all of us. How dare he not do so.
posted by juiceCake at 8:20 PM on May 3, 2010


@Killick Yep. I'm with flapjax when it comes to who the host is -- who really gives a shit?

You can't be very old. Anyone who believes this has had their frame of reference skewed by overexposure to louts like Jay Leno. You need to have seen real talk-show hosts in their prime to appreciate why your statement is just silly.
posted by RavinDave at 10:41 PM on May 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


This is all a little weird. Conan's lifestyle is almost certainly indistinguishable from any of ours in the eyes of a starving third world child.
posted by ODiV at 11:16 PM on May 3, 2010 [4 favorites]


Much as I love Conan, he's no Craig Ferguson.

loooooove it
posted by jeremy b at 12:20 AM on May 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


No one should shed a tear for Conan, as he has more money than most of us, and rich people don't have problems.

As a courtesy, I'll be watching your fb/twitter feeds to make sure you never complain about anything, so long as there is suffering in the world.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 6:19 AM on May 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


NBC calls Conan a liar.

Jay Leno (at 3:45) takes his own potshot, saying the Times Square Bomber was a member of Team Coco. via.
posted by mattdidthat at 12:20 PM on May 5, 2010


Conan @ Google hilarious
posted by hortense at 10:39 PM on May 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


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