This blog is officially supporting Team Conan. Partly because the whole affair makes it feel a little bit like The Larry Sanders Show never actually finished, just that Conan O’Brien took over the role of the titular chat show host.
If you get the chance, we’d implore you to check out his last few shows (and we’re using the word ‘last’ in two senses of the word, by the looks of it). Try to avoid the annoying half-hour version of the show pumped out on CNBC on Sky, it’s worth proxying yourself up to watch it on Hulu, or whatever other web-based trickery you deem fit. In this age of people on telly being so bloody nice about each other, it’s refreshing when the gloves really come off, even if they do so partly for the column inches and increased attention it brings. If you’re not quite sure what the thundering flip we’re banging on about, here’s a helpful round up of the situation, courtesy of Hong Kong’s demented CGI news service Appledaily:
Proper telly website Gawker.tv have been rounding up the events from each evening’s late night shows over in the US of America, and they make interesting viewing. Monday night’s shows saw Leno try to put over an earnest summary of What Really Happened, which prompted Letterman to pop up on CBS an hour later, and put over his… slightly less Jay-centric views on how those events transpired. Conan popped up on NBC at around the same time, focusing his freckled vitriol on the NBC suits responsible for the whole affair.
The events of Tuesday night’s shows saw much the same happen. More personal barbs from Dave, who was famously pipped to the post-Carson Tonight Show chair by Leno back in 1992. More entertaining banter from Conan was going out at the same time on NBC, with O’Brien referring to NBC execs as “brainless sons of goats”, but in Spanish so he wouldn’t contravene his contract. Leno tried to smooth over the whole affair by… slamming the same NBC executives who want to give him The Tonight Show again, while tossing in a few digs at Letterman’s recent sex scandal. In short, it’s “hand your dignity in at the door” time over on the late night chat shows.
Meanwhile, the League One-standard hosts were desperately lobbing verbal pots and pans at Leno, with Jimmy Fallon and Jimmy Kimmel doing all they can to get noticed. We could probably sum the whole thing up by putting the whole thing in the following political nutshell, doing our best to ignore the “best before 2008” sticker affixed to it:
Conan O’Brien is Barack Obama – younger, popular with The People, yet lots of rich people in suits don’t seem to be too fond of him for whatever twisted reason. Jay Leno is John McCain – older, not that popular, but lots of very wealthy powerful people want to see him at the head table. David Letterman is Crazy Joe Biden – a bit zany, a bit prone to gaffes, but experienced enough, and mystifyingly popular in many circles. Jimmies Fallon and Kimmel are both Sarah Palin – desperately shouting anything controversial in a bid to get noticed. And Carson Daly is probably Ross Perot, because we didn’t really expect the analogy to get this far.
The person escaping with the most credit from all this? Blog hero Craig Ferguson, who aside from occasional verbal jabs has vowed to keep silent on the whole topic. He opened Tuesday night’s show with the following words (bottom clip on this page, if you want to see it, and the rest of his nice little monologue, for yourself) :
“Yep! What a surprise, it’s another middle-aged white guy on late night who gets paid too much for doing bugger all!”
Conan ramped things up impressively on Wednesday night’s show, having employed a brilliant new tactic – coming up with tremendously expensive skits that aren’t especially funny. He opened the batting by introducing a new comedy character - “the Bugatti Veyron Mouse”. That’s the most expensive road car in production, dressed up as a mouse, for no reason. And, just to add to the experience, the whole thing is introduced with the original master recording of The Rolling Stones’ Satisfaction playing out in the background. As Conan puts it, “does it add anything whatsoever to this comedy bit? No, it doesn’t! Is it crazy expensive to play on the air, not to mention the rights to re-air this clip on the internet? Hell, yes!”. Total price tag for a single comedy bit: $1.5million.
As before, Gawker have full clips of all last night’s interesting bits, including Adam Sandler quoting his manager’s opinion that NBC are “nothing but cunts”, online here. Oh, and Letterman and Leno continued to make deeply personal insults about each other, if you want to see that.