Posts Tagged ‘The Tonight Show’

Monday Medley

What we read while Aaron Craft took a “charge”… 

The Return of Conan


If you haven’t been paying attention to this blog for the last 11 months, then you may not have realized that I was looking forward to last night’s premiere of Conan on TBS. I haven’t even minded all the commercials and the endless promotion during the baseball playoffs.

The main reason for the excitement wasn’t just that a great comedian was returning to television, but that the return represented a chance to finally move on. Conan O’Brien has been active since he lost The Tonight Show to Jay Leno in January: He got a new job, he went on a live tour, he grew a beard, he appeared on 60 Minutes, and he even got on Twitter. What has been frustrating, though, is that the most common subject in his comedy during this interregnum has been Conan himself—namely his departure from NBC and his new job on TBS.

Back in January, when The Tonight Show essentially became about its own future, it was refreshing to see an unleashed Conan mercilessly go after his own bosses at NBC. Unlike Jay Leno, who played dumb during the whole process, Conan wasn’t afraid to be honest and hilariously vicious. Unlike Jimmy Kimmel, who had nothing to lose by being vicious, and David Letterman, who played the role of elder statesman throughout, Conan’s attacks were also endearingly honest and personal, since he was going through the ordeal himself and had something to lose by attacking his employer. Continue reading

Conan On 60 Minutes Tonight

Conan O’Brien makes his return to television (kind of) tonight: He will be interviewed by Mike Wallace on 60 Minutes. This will be his first appearance on TV since he was booted from The Tonight Show in January. Back then, if you recall, I lamented what I referred to as “The Conan Travesty.” Now, though, he is going to TBS, and all is right with the world.

Meanwhile, Jay Leno is getting outdone by President Obama. Speaking of Obama, in honor of his commencement address at Michigan yesterday, here’s Conan’s speech to Harvard from 2000: Continue reading

Monday Medley

What we read while fumbling the football…

  • One of us is from Staten Island and now lives close to the Jersey Shore. In other words, he’s just living the dream.
  • We’ve been really enjoying Charles P. Pierce’s blog at Boston.com, and this post’s title, which is almost as long as the post itself, is perfect in taking a shot at fellow Bostonian, Bill Simmons.

The Conan Travesty, Part 3: Jay Leno’s Story

On Monday night’s The Jay Leno Show, Leno finally took the time to seriously address the confusion over at NBC. Predictably, the statement received a lot of attention, and has certainly helped boost the arguments of the new group of Leno-defenders. While certainly not the as good as the dignified masterpiece Conan O’Brien penned a week ago, Leno’s comments do go a long way toward rectifying his “nice guy” persona and showing that Jeff Zucker and his band of NBC idiots, and not Leno himself, are really to blame.

But it would be disingenuous to let Leno off the hook. The logic he employed in his statement, while reasonable, was not exactly airtight, and a closer look may show why the public has taken Conan’s side so decisively. Continue reading

Monday Medley

What we read while making our own pact with the devil:


  • Critical of Norv Turner’s clock management at the end of the Jets-Chargers game, Joe Posnanski wonders why NFL head coaches consistently make such simple time management mistakes. Speaking of the Jets-Chargers game, here is more evidence of Rex Ryan’s awesomeness.

The Conan Travesty, Part 2

Hell yeah! Stick it to The Man!

Conan announced this afternoon that he would not accept NBC’s choice to move him back to 12:05 a.m. Continue reading

The Conan Travesty

In case you haven’t heard by now, NBC has decided to screw one of the best comedians of the last decade. Conan O’Brien, less than a year into his run as the host of The Tonight Show, is being bumped from 11:35 p.m. to 12 a.m., to make room for The Jay Leno Show. NBC’s experiment of moving Leno to primetime has not worked out for the network, not so much because of its lackluster ratings (which NBC always expected and planned to offset with lower costs) as its effect on 11 p.m. local news broadcasts. Advertisers, who NBC had evidently warned to expect lower ratings, were not unhappy, but local NBC affiliates generate a lot of revenue from ads during the local news. With Leno providing these broadcasts with an especially weak lead-in, affiliates complained, and some allegedly threatened to drop Leno.

From NBC’s perspective, this move does make sense: They can undo the Jay Leno mistake at 10, and hopefully revive their 11:30 slot. Conan has been losing to David Letterman in the ratings—a battle Leno always won—since June, even occasionally to Letterman repeats. Surely, NBC hopes that Leno can retake his lead in his old timeslot. Conan, meanwhile, will supposedly get bumped back to 12. Continue reading

Aught Lang Syne: The Funniest Comedians of the Decade

Comedy is a broad subject. It’s not confined to any one medium, genre, style, or format. It’s hard to define and almost impossible to quantify. But here at NPI, we take comedy very seriously. The comedy of the Aughts in particular will always have an important role in shaping our senses of humor. So today we present a list, in no particular order, of people who helped to truly shape the comedy of the decade. This is not a list of people who were funny once or twice, but people with a body of work that is both rich and impressive. This means that a lot of people had to be cut. Great stand-up comics (Louis C.K., Aziz Ansari), some hilarious supporting comic actors (Paul Rudd, Jason Schwartzman), and even some groundbreaking comic teams (Flight of the Conchords, Stella), couldn’t make the list. And that’s because the following individuals/groups reached a level of success, both in terms of popularity and quality, that helped define the comedy of the decade.

The cast of Arrested Development

Arrested Development has the funniest ensemble cast in the history of comedic television, and it’s way ahead of whatever’s at #2. Tim has already extolled the virtues of Jason Bateman as Michael Bluth, but the fact is that the main character is about the sixth-funniest cast member on the show. Michael Cera gave a breakout performance for three years as George Michael, completely selling every awkward quirk of the character, including (and especially) his love for his cousin. David Cross played Tobias’ obliviousness and physical awkwardness to perfection, conveying every sexual inadequacy and illicit implication (“She said ‘single,’ right?”). Will Arnett made a magician named Gob come off as arrogant, creepy, and sympathetic. Portia Di Rossi played Lindsay’s self-righteousness and laziness as mutually coexisting. Jeffrey Tambor, as the family patriarch, managed to make the character so memorable that they had to keep him as a regular, even though he was supposed to remain a guest after the pilot. Tony Hale’s Buster, Jessica Walter’s Lucille, and Alia Shawkat’s Maeby, rounded out the cast, ensuring the show didn’t have a single weakness. Even guest stars, like Henry Winkler, Ed Begley, Jr., and John Michael Higgins, manage to turn their characters into memorable comic stars.

Most important, though, was the way the cast interacted. Plenty, if not all, great comedies have breakout characters and star performers, but few entire casts have had the chemistry that this cast had. Exchanges between Michael and his son, for example, are so great not just because of the dialogue and each character’s eccentricities, but because of the interplay between the two characters. Their ability to talk over each other, fill in each other’s awkward gaps, and respond nonverbally to the other’s lines are as funny as anything in the script. Continue reading