Well it’s over, this chapter of Tonight show drama anyhow. Conan O’Brien will be back on another network in the fall, I suspect FOX or perhaps Comedy Central and it will be a much better situation for he and the crew creatively. Conan will be free and grandma will have her Leno back at 11:35, all will be right with the world.
I just watched the final episode of The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien and in keeping with Coco’s request, I will not delve into cynicism in this post. Conan in his closing statement as it were, spoke directly to the audience and urged us(the young ones in particular) not to be cynical and thanked NBC for his time on The Tonight Show and employing him for 20 years from his time as a writer on SNL to now. His message was that if you work hard and you’re kind, amazing things will happen to you. I cried a little…and also before that when Neil Young played “Long May You Run”, one of my favorite songs ever a and perfect song for the moment.
That is why I love Conan O’Brien. Plenty of the jokes and bits on his show over the years were plenty snarky and poked fun at plenty of folks but I would say for every barb he threw at a Paris Hilton for example, he made himself the butt of the joke on twice as many occasions and it was always done under the umbrella of lighthearted fun. Conan is not a mean or bitter guy, most great comedians have well documented demons that make them who they are but Conan is a rare exception, in the vein of a Jerry Seinfeld I suppose…I can’t think of a better or closer example off the top of my head. Jay Leno is certainly not a happy person, David Letterman is a guy I’d like to have a beer with but that dude has mountains of issues. Conan took the high road on his way out because he is a well adjusted, smart and grateful human being.
I have been a Conan fan since I was about 12 or 13, staying up wicked late whenever possible to catch Conan, Andy, Max, Joel, Abe Vigoda, La Bamba and Robert Smigel get crazy with the cheeze whiz. When the day finally came and Conan took his seat on The Tonight Show it was unbelievable, finally someone with a connection to my generation who won’t just give the audience what they expect at the premiere slot in late night. I considered it as important to the comedy world as Barack Obama’s election was in American politics and race relations….I was a little excited.
Because I feel so strongly about Conan as a fan of his and the late night genre in general(I’ve seen every episode of The Larry Sanders Show multiple times) I constructed an editorial Illustration to encapsulate what has happened here with Conan and NBC. The sun will rise on a glorious new day for my Coney Island baby, he’ll be back and most likely better than ever in just a few months but I could not let this time pass without making light of this most heinous blunder NBC has perpetrated here. While also paying homage to Conan’s enduring spirit, soldiering on with perfect hair and plastic smile. Not letting the man get him down but not letting it go unnoted the great injustices that have occurred.
The fine folks at Nakatomi have brought this Illustration to life. Enjoy:
And in other news, I will be back to blogging this week. Working on multiple interviews and new prints, see you back here soon!