A Literally Apocalyptic Tragedy

Folks, I know I normally don’t do this, but I’d like to get a little serious here. There is an unspeakable tragedy developing in one of the most backwards and impoverished areas of the western hemisphere. I’m speaking, of course, about NBC1.

The quickest rundown I am capable of: NBC, afraid that Conan might leave for another network, offered him The Tonight Show six years ago. Leno, for whatever reason, accepted the arrangement. As the appointed hour drew nearer, Leno started to get antsy and realized he did not, in fact, want to retire. NBC, afraid he might leave for another network, offered him a prime time comedy show, five nights a week at 10pm, effectively obliterating almost a third of their prime time programming. This did not bother NBC because a one hour comedy show is much cheaper to produce than virtually any scripted show. This new (idiotic) and revolutionary (greedy and cynical) move proved a failure as no one tuned in to the new show. Now, NBC afraid to lose either comedian, has proposed that Leno move back to 11:35 for one half hour, Conan be pushed back to 12:052, Jimmy Fallon following suit at 1:05 and Carson Daly learning to embrace the freegan lifestyle. This was not amenable to Conan. And this is where things stand.

NBC, trying to defend its shoddy treatment of O’Brien says its basically Conan’s fault. While it is true that if The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien were a ratings monster none of this would be happening, it is a “specious argument” to say that this is all happening because Conan’s ratings are too low. Fuck Dick Ebersoll in his lying mouth. I’m sorry, that was probably too harsh.

The problem is not The Tonight Show‘s ratings. They were low, but not unreasonably so for a fledgling show. The problem is the horrible ratings for The Jay Leno Show. Actually, that’s not even true. The real problem is the horrible ratings for the local news on NBC affiliates. The real problem is there was one highly coveted show and, at least as far as NBC was concerned, two qualified men who wanted it. And instead of being a man and comitting either way, NBC tried to have an unholy threesome where it fucked everyone else fast and hard and then had to get up early the next morning for a meeting.3 NBC’s solution: create two Tonight Shows.4

Unlike a lot of Conan fans5 who have complained about this debacle and yet didn’t follow him to the 11:35 slot, I stuck around. I missed two episodes in October and possibly one in December, but those few marks against me aside, and of course, taking into account the literally thousands of episodes of Late Night with Conan O’Brien I’ve seen over the years, I think I, an avowed Conhead, possess some expertise on the matter.6 People say that he’s not as funny as he used to be, that he dumbed down his comedy, and I disrespectfully disagree.

Conan on Late Night was clearly in the vain of his predecessor, Letterman, the previous late night scandal holder. Conan on the The Tonight Show was clearly inspired by the man who made that show what it is, Johnny Carson. It was more spontaneous than Leno and less zany than Letterman. It was its own.

Did the show’s tone change in the transition? Absolutely and quite obviously, so again, fuck Dick Ebersoll in his lying mouth. Many of the best parts of Conan’s old show were skits involving a sizeable chunk of the writing staff, notably Brian Stack (Frankenstein Wastes a Minute of Our Time, The Ghost Crooner, The Interrupter), Jon Glaser (Pubes), Brian McCann (Preparation H Raymond, S & M Abe Lincoln), Kevin Dorff (well, everything else) and, of course, Rober Smigel (Triumph the Insult Comic Dog, Clutch Cargo). The idea for the new show was to ease into that and give the audience time to adjust to Conan before they had to deal with the likes of the Fed-Ex Pope and Cactus Chef Playing ‘We Didn’t Start The Fire’ on the Flute. Can you blame them? But Conan, with Andy Richter’s help, was still up to the task of entertaining us while we fuck and/or brush our teeth.7

While the skits may not have been as funny as in the past, pound for pound Conan is still the best, most quick witted interviewer around. Not as boring as Leno, or as mean as Letterman, or as hard to understand as Ferguson, more charming than Kimmel and funnier than Fallon, Conan is just plain good at his job. Stephen Colbert may one day give him a run for his money, but the constraints of his persona and the kind of of guests best suited to The Colbert Report, ensure CoCo comes out on top.

The important thing to remember here is that Leno didn’t succeed right out of the gate. He consistently lost his time slot to Letterman, because, for a short blessed while, everyone else seemed to realize how cheap and safe and unfunny he was. Until a British actor just had to get a beej from a hooker. But NBC let Leno figure out his own unique flavor of tepid mediocrity. It’s just a shame that Leno and NBC could not afford Conan the same courtesy.

If they erred too much on the side of caution, so be it. If they confused and scared flyover country, fine, give them time to fine tune, but don’t tell me they didn’t consider “middle America.” So which is it? Is it too commercial to be good or is it too crazy for your precious Demonites?8 He’s damned if he does and he’s damned if he does thirty minutes later. I guess Conan’s just too beautiful and strange for this world.

You will not find a single professional comedian, with one glaring and half-hearted exception, that will tell you Leno is funnier, or even a better talk show host than O’Brien. Every other late night talk show host, besides those who are scared they might lose their jobs, are on #teamcoco.9 Even his competition, Letterman, is on our side. Granted, there is some bad blood between him and Leno,10 and the cynic in me suspects he’d rather have the weaker competition11, but he’s had some of the best zingers at Leno’s expense these past few days.

In fact, you know what I’d really like to see even though it would be as pointless as it was reckless? Tina Fey, Lorne Michaels, Greg Daniels, Amy Poehler, Jim Gaffigan, Marc Maron, Jeff Garlin, Jack McBrayer, et al., people that (in my head at least) are friends and supporters of Conan, all coming together to at least publicly state how fucked up NBC’s handling of this situation has been.12 How NBC13 is just a shortsighted moron ruining anything it gets too involved in, a giant, backstabbing bully that doesn’t even know what it wants.

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But don’t just take my word for it.



Although, I’m pretty sure Conan is polling higher than Barry these days.

So, it looks like tonight might be the last episode of The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien.14 If not tonight, then next week will almost certainly be Conan’s last. Who knows what NBC will air until the Winter Olympics, but when that’s over with, Leno will regain control of The Tonight Show.

If Leno, at the height of his powers was perfect and beat Letterman every night, fine. But let’s see how he does after that all that severe brain trauma he mysteriously incurred. How else to explain this.

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I guess Dick Clark’s not the only uncomfortable to watch stroke victim in late night.

And this is what someone has to spell out for me. If Leno had such abysmal ratings at 10, and he admitedly changed absolutely nothing from his version of “The Tonight Show”, why is everyone all of a sudden going to tune in to the exact same show at a later timeslot? Does America just hate Leno while they’re still digesting their dinner?15 Is there some strange alchemy that occurs at 11:35 on NBC that creates ratings gold?

Clearly not.

I love the magical and wishful thinking that leads NBC executives to think that it’s the timeslot and not the comedian that’s the problem. Hey, Jay Leno, we’re done with you. The future is now, old man! I know it’s a lot to hope for, but maybe America outgrew you. Also, does NBC not anticipate some sort of backlash when Leno resumes his duties as The Tonight Show host? Sure, Jay still has his fans, in nursing homes across the country, but even they know a raw deal when they see one.16

What will ultimately befall Conan? Don’t worry about him, he’ll be fine. I see great things just on the horizon.

Is that a FOX I spy?

Although, for purely selfish reasons, I do hope he stays in Los Angeles. I never got to see him in New York and I squandered the scant seven months I had with him. I’m sorry Conan, much like America, I took you for granted. You never really appreciate what you have until it’s gone.

Here’s hoping this was all just an elaborate plot to drive up Conan’s ratings. Where’s Hugh Grant when you need him?17

Fo’ life

  1. Sorry Haitians. Text ‘haiti’ to 90999! []
  2. Effectively making it the first hour of an even longer Today Show. []
  3. Probably with Comcast. []
  4. Fucking King Solomon over here. []
  5. Who still, in theory, have every right to their slightly less informed opinions. []
  6. That’s going right on my resume. []
  7. The next morning. Thank Fuck for DVRs. []
  8. People from Des Moines. Hey, if you have no demonym, you can’t complain. []
  9. Which is pretty unfair, since I’m pretty sure #teamjay is Mavis and whatever NBC intern taught Mavis what a twitter was. []
  10. Double granted, it is warranted bad blood. []
  11. Which assumes Conan is now the weaker of the two. []
  12. C’mon Funny or Die, get on that. []
  13. No Breaks for Conan. []
  14. No Mo Tonight Sho For CoCo? []
  15. Where exactly does Fourth Meal™ fit into this? []
  16. Assuming their glaucoma medication is working. So, if they’re not too high. []
  17. Sarah Palin just wasn’t enough this time. []

I wonder if he needs a drummer?

Looks like Caninus and Hatebeak have some stiff competition.

(via videogum)

A completely not frustrating game to productively spend your time playing

Exactly what I said it was. Go on and play, this should keep you busy while I figure out what the hell else to put up here.