Sunday, January 24, 2010

Why I'm on "Team CoCo" and You Should Be, Too

Unless you've been living under the rock that I usually live under, you have heard about the fiasco at NBC over the late night shake up. I should preface this entry by explaining that I love Conan O'Brien. He first came on the air in 1993 as the host of NBC's "Late Night with Conan O'Brien." It was around 1995 that I met this weird, hippie chick in the guidance department of our high school (we call her Bea), and we became immediate BFF. Bea has always been an insane night owl, and she introduced me to the tall redhead whose quirky sense of humor was right up our alley. I've watched him ever since; well, I've watched him every time I can stay up that late. I'm not much of a night owl, nor am I a morning person; I am what I like to call a bed person. All bed, all the time.

Any who, I fell in love with Conan because he is very relate-able: he has always behaved the way any of us would when in front of some of Hollywood's most famous: both awed and respectful with a hint of humor, enough to make the star smile genuinely and relax. He treats his audience like friends, allowing us to see into some of the most personal moments of his life (the show he taped the day his son was born, was probably the most hilarious I've ever seen). As much as I want to say, "Well, Jay Leno just isn't funny" I realize that funny is subjective; while I don't find him funny, I realize others do. So I'll put it to you like this: whenever I had watched Jay Leno, it was obvious he was more of a kiss ass than anything else. His questions seemed to have been written by the stars' PR people and he was just totally fine with it. Even Dave Letterman, who I do enjoy from time to time, isn't as easy to watch as Conan was. With Dave it seems he's having a private conversation with his buddies, their conversations peppered with private jokes and giggles like school girls. Sure that can be amusing, but it gets old very quickly.

I think the reason the public became so obsessed with Conan being 'laid off' so to speak was that he came off as a 'working class guy.' In this economy so many of us could relate to his situation. Sure he was offered a show at a later time, but we've all been there: your job offers to give you a different shift, a lower pay, etc. in order for you to keep your job. It didn't make sense that he would accept that deal. As for the 30 million he received: if I were a smarter woman, or one that wasn't so lazy, I could explain the economics of his pay over the seven year term of his contract, or I could explain the sociological mind of a man, a father, that even with enough money most men have a need to work to provide. Seeing as how I'm not that smart and I am that lazy, I won't go into all that. Instead I'll simply say that entertainers, comedians especially, have a need to perform, to write, to work. Look at Bob Hope. He was probably the richest man in entertainment (thanks, Orange trees) and he worked endlessly, not because he needed to, because he wanted to. Steve Allen, who we all forget was the original host of "The Tonight Show”, worked every day until his untimely death. Think of the myriad of movies, TV shows, hell even Broadway plays about old performers who don't want to "take the money and retire." They want to, maybe they have a need to, perform.

There is also I sense, throughout this whole ordeal, how out of touch "the man" is to us plebes. Conan didn't have the ratings, I'll give you that. But he also didn't have a great lead-in. Even the local news suffered in their ratings because of the "Jay Leno Show." The usual practice in broadcasting, when I typically popular show suffers a ratings set back is to A) change the lead-in show, or B) change the air time to a more "viewer friendly" time (ala "Law & Order"). Conan had a loyal following of viewers and decent ratings during his 16 years hosting "Late Night with Conan O'Brien."

It all boils down, I feel, to the fact that Conan is just a good guy. He showed this time and time again on-air (when Andy left, during Katrina, etc), through the reactions of his peers and colleagues (check out Inside the Actor's studio when Conan was the guest) and especially during his explanation for choosing not to allow the move to past midnight:

"...if I accept this move I will be knocking the “Late Night” show, which I inherited from David Letterman and passed on to Jimmy Fallon, out of its long-held time slot. That would hurt the other NBC franchise that I love, and it would be unfair to Jimmy. "

Then there is his sign off, which summed up his personality exactly: classy, honest, funny, and true to his emotions. I look forward to September and seeing where my beloved late night host will end up.


Dr. Fabulous said...


"Lady" Bea said...

No, Jay Leno isn't funny. At all.

"My name's Myyyyyrtle!"

[Throws whiskey in face] "BRING ME MY BABY!!!!!!"

"Walker says I have AIDS."