January 12, 2010

Conan, Jay

Far be it from me to say anything about late night television. In the past few months, I've found myself going to bed at an increasingly early hour. I demand to get my allotted eight hours of nothingness, and since I gotta work a 9-5, scratch that, 8:30 to 5, I have to retire before 11:30 to allow myself a proper morning primping. Which means, I haven't been watching Conan on the Tonight Show. I also haven't been watching David Letterman.

But Jay is on at ten now. So the whole going-to-bed early excuse goes out a very large, very early window. So forget that whole first paragraph. Except the part about ensuring myself a proper primping, that's key. Actually, forget that part too. Yeah, forget the whole first paragraph.

What I'm lining up here is the premise that you should not listen to me when it comes to matters pertaining to late night funnymen. So don't read any further. Go watch the new OK-GO video.

For those of you ill-suited to follow instructions, I'll embark on my late night rant.

Conan is great. Or at least, when I was watching late night television, he was great. He's comforting in a way, because he's a natural. Ever watched an open-mic comedy night? Then you know just how awkward and uncomfortable it is to watch an amateur on stage. I could never, ever tell jokes in front of people. But Conan is funny. He's an expert salesman, especially when the material is lackluster. He was born to be funny on TV. He belongs on the tonight show.

This is where you might expect me to paint Jay Leno as a foil, an anti-Conan. But he's good too. He's not quite as good a salesman as Conan, but he's miles beyond passable. He's a pro. He's good. I read an interview with him that won my respect a while ago. Leno strikes me as an honest guy. He's not nearly as unfunny as Conan fanboys might want to paint him. Conan's getting screwed, yes, but it's not Leno's fault. I don't know whose fault it is. I know it's not my fault.

Conan wrote the world a letter. Really, he did, he addressed it to the "People of Earth." This immediately hooked me. Because I am a people of earth. Person of earth. Anyway. It was eloquent, it was probably the right thing to do. And when you have to clear things up, you write letters. He's standing his ground. And apologizing for his hair. Godspeed, Conan. I'll watch you, wherever you go.

But really, this is the best thing to happen to NBC's latenight lineup since they, uh, messed with their latenight lineup. People are going to watch now. Controversy is great advertising. People are talking about it. Bloggers are posting about it on their lame blogs. NBC is kicking themselves for looking like a bunch of screw-ups, sure, but people are interested now. They're going to tune in. Just watch the ratings go up.

If I can add just one more thing, it's that Craig Ferguson is the best thing in latenight right now. Unfortunately, he's buried behind Letterman, next to Jimmy Fallon. He gives the same odd comforting feeling that Conan does, but with a hint of Scotch.

But what do I know? I go to bed at 11:30.

Conan's take on how The Simpsons should end:


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