Saturday, February 21, 2009

Late Night With Conan O'Brien

Late Night With Conan O'Brien

As if it wasn't a bad enough day with it being the final broadcast of 97.1 Free FM, it just ends with the final airing of Late Night with Conan O' Brien. Since 1993 he's been on when there was nothing but infomercials and episodes of M.A.S.H. on the television during my insomniac moments. I wasn't much of a sleeper.

I have to say I never had a proper bed time. This lack of structure in my youth allowed me to be what many would call "a creature of the night." No, I didn't suck blood, but I'm not tossing out the idea that I sucked. But it meant that I would often just stay up for the purpose of staying up. Even on school nights I wouldn't get to sleep till around 2am. I was able to pursue more artistic interest... oh fuck it, I played a lot of PC games. I would spend late nights trying to set up a modem to modem connection on Doom.

This task would usually be a long drawn out process of having one 14k phone modem call another 14k modem . It wasn't as easy as it is today where you can just log into an Xbox live and jump on a game with someone across the world with no lag. So in this long process of having modems talking to each other it you needed to entertain yourself somehow. This is how I first came across Conan.

I never watched Late Night with David Letterman. I was too young. Much like one day the youth will never know that Conan was anything more than the host of The Tonight Show. Oh how the times are a changing. But I was familiar with Conan O' Brien in the sense that I knew he was once a writer for The Simpsons. In hindsight many would call his years as a scribe there as part of the golden years. Mainly because it was so off beat and random.

The early years of Conan were a little awkward. It was bad television but considering the options at the same time slot, it was the best I could get while slaving away on a very slow modem. Some bits stood out though and really made me laugh. He eventually found his step and embraced the whole awkward feeling and made it funny. Pimpbot 3000 and all the strange other skits were great. Guest weren't all that great for a while but were good for the late night.

Over the years I dropped the late night gaming and just stayed up either drawing, writing or keeping busy. All the time I would have Conan on in the background. His bit "In the year 2000" was funny and like a good bottle of wine, grew better with age. Hell, even after the year 2000 came and past and they were still doing it, it was grand. Andy Ritcher eventually left the show and while it was slightly different, it was still great to have Conan on at night.

Some characters were more famous than others. Triumph the insult dog being one that is quoted around college campuses anywhere you go. Others weren't so popular. Over the years he jumped on the wagon of creating internet sensations because his humor was so appealing to the younger demographics. So it made perfect sense that NBC wanted to keep him when his contract expired. Even if it meant bumping Leno to the curb.

Conan wont be off the air for long. In fact the silver lining to all this is that he's coming to Los Angeles to do the Tonight Show replacing Leno. Better for me in the sense that I could actually get tickets to go see him. The only problem is that a lot is going to be lost in the transition from Late Night to Tonight show.

Many long loved characters and the idea that he may also be tamed a little in order to appeal to an 11:30 audience opposed to a 12:30 audience he currently has. I'm pretty sure Conan will be able to handle the change. During the writers strike it just showed how much of a talent Conan is in his range of working with what he has at hand. I think if anything, during the writers strike it revitalize my interest in Conan as I was slowly weening during that time.

Not to mention Leno is getting a show at 10:00, so he'll be stealing away a lot of Conan's potential guest pool. Who's show would you rather have your talent get on to promote a new film, a 10pm show or an 11:30pm show? So Leno stole his thunder there. NBC didn't want to lose Leno to another network and have him compete against Conan. Maybe this will help keep Conan being the same ol' Conan I grew up on.

He goes out on episode 2,725. Pretty damn amazing how he cranked out that much content in the 16 years being on the air. I'm pretty sure I've seen 90% of those episodes. I know, I have no life. I like to think it's more along the lines of just watching a master work his craft. On a day that I lost one hero, losing another, even for a short time is a tough pill to swallow.

While I say good bye to you at the 12:30 time slot, I warmly welcome you back to Los Angeles, Conan. I'll be glad to wait outside the NBC studios in Burbank to watch you take on the Tonight Show.

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