Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Cocktails with Coco

As late night TV once again goes through a seismic shakeup, once again with Jay Leno at the epicenter, the long-term ramifications for viewers may, this time, turn out for the worse. But for right now, it really is making for some awesome entertainment.

Letterman can't contain himself, and that's never a bad thing when he goes off in front of an audience. But Conan, the past couple of weeks, has been on fire. In my younger days, when Conan still held down the Late Night shift, it was standard operating procedure to sit around with some like-minded pals and, with the help of some cocktails or, more often than not, some, uh, silly cigarettes, and get the giggles thanks to Conan's weirdo sense of humor. Things seemed strange -- and not in a good way -- when he made the transition to that enormous stage in LA, though. It was like the quirky inside joke now had to be slightly sanitized and universalized for consumption by outsiders. But now, having accepted his fate, it's as though the shackles of expectation have fallen away, and he's just going off and being himself. Granted, he's got a lot of material to suddenly work with.

But there's a line between self-deprecating humor and maudlin whining in the guise of jokes. Conan has catapulted, in the absurd way that only he can, onto the correct side of that line. Suddenly, there's something truly enjoyable about mixing a stiff drink and clicking on The Tonight Show. I guess now that the worst has actually happened, Conan's decided to go out partying like it's once again 1999.

2 comments:

Don Capone said...

Yeah, it's been fun to watch Letterman and Conan trash the knuckleheads at NBC. Letterman has been relentless. He made a good point the other night, that after they booted Leno off the Tonight Show, Leno should have gone to another network and made them sorry by getting better ratings than Conan. But he didn't. He "hung around the lobby," as Letterman put it, waiting to get the call again.

NBC is going to have to keep Leno as the host now until he croaks, because how could they go through this again with someone else?

SusanD said...

That's what astounds me about this round, Don, is that they played this whole game before! Leno is like fucking Rasputin at this point -- only less entertaining.