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The Tonight Show: Run Conan run!

In late night, nbc, series debut, talk show on 06/02/2009 at 12:32 am

Conan O’Brien is one helluvan elegant runner. He’s beautiful. And in a suit!
Having started the running theme on the beach in his promo ads, O’Brien opened his first edition of The Tonight Show Monday night by running across America (having forgotten to move to L.A.). Clever. And the running!
“Yeah, maybe he shoulda just kept running.”
That, of course, was the boyfriend. Millions of wired TV viewers were sharing their views of the show on Twitter. Me? I get the real-time phone call from the boyfriend, who’s on the road working.
“It’s worse than I thought it would be. And Andy Richter looks creepy. But (O’Brien) running was fabulous.” Boyfriend out.
And the moral of that story? If you, like the boyfriend, didn’t like Conan O’Brien at 12:35 a.m. on Late Night, you probably won’t like him at 11:35 p.m. on The Tonight Show.
But even if you like him, as I do, last night was nothing better than treading water.
Despite big thumbs up from show announcer Andy Richter, returned to O’Brien’s side after he left Late Night to pursue sitcoms, and some mania on the high hat by Max Weinberg and the band, the show was a little flat.
If you missed it last night: It started out strong with the running, led into a monologue opened with the string dance (quick version), then a very non-topical jokes that introduced the word “Choco-taco” into the Tonight Show lexicon.
Where Leno had Jay Walking and other out-of-studio bits, O’Brien spent the day playing tour guide to people visiting Universal Studios. F, slightly absurd O’Brien stuff that involved him screaming “Oh my God” over and over and ended with him buying two cartloads of junk from a 99-cent store for the people on his tour busses.
A couple of other bits were flatter, although a bit showing how not-connected he is in L.A. (a nosebleed seat at a Lakers’ game to Jack Nicholson’s courtside throne) revealed the secret to his flaming red pompadour: popcorn butter and bathroom spackle. Now you know.
Will Ferrell, promoting new film Land of the Lost, arrived in a throne carried by Egyptian slaves and deadpanned his way through two segments. Tips on living in L.A. did nothing to spike the energy level of the show.
Much might be made of Ferrell first deadpanning his congratulations to O’Brien because “no one thought you’d make it. No one.” and then later, after, serenading O’Brien with the oh-so inappropriate Never Can Say Goodbye, finishing with “Don’t get me wrong, I’m pulling for you man, but… there’s studio execs shaking back stage, ready the pull the plug.” Much might be made, but it’s a joke. A JOKE. Probably.
Just as when O’Brien earlier tittered that Jay Leno would be back in a couple of days. A joke!
Overall, O’Brien had moments last night where he was funny, moments where he was flat. Andy Richter is wasted, given what he contributed last night, but again, one night does not define much.
Musically, however, I hope that subsequent bands sound better than Pearl Jam did; the sound of their performance never rose above muddy.
Of course Twitter was alive with fans and foes. Conan sucks. Conan’s brilliant.
I’ll leave you with the one I liked best, being, as you might have read, not a big fan of Jay Leno:
“Conan’s Tonight Show is stupid, narcissistic, pointless & bland. Still funnier than Leno.”
People. There’s no pleasing them all.
Wanna leave your two cents? Knock yourself out in the comments below or send me an email.
— Denise Duguay

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