in entertainment, Uncategorized

Psychoanalyzing Conan O’Brien

Scott Tobias has a great summary of some recent Conan O’Brien-related pop culture paraphernalia, including the recent War for Late Night book by Bill Carter and Rodman Flender’s disappointing documentary, Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop:

All the attributes on display in Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop—the ceaseless drive to perform, the ability to connect broadly with audiences and improvise on the fly, and, yes, the need for constant gratification—underlines a point made in Carter’s The War For Late Night: Very few people can do what Conan does. Greater and lesser lights have tried and failed, from Magic Johnson to Pat Sajak to Chevy Chase to Dana Carvey, but only a handful can capably manage the various moving parts that go into the show—the monologue, the interviews, the remote segments and bits of sketch-comedy business—and get it done every night, in a marathon run with a finish line that keeps receding into the horizon. It takes a special kind of versatility and brilliance to pull it off (and I wouldn’t exclude Leno from that, however determinedly mediocre his show), and Conan, after a famously rough start, has logged the thousands upon thousands of hours to prove it. He’s a comic entertainer with very specific qualities: He’s not a stand-up, but he can get through monologues. He’s not an actor, but he can goof his way around desk and sketch bits. He’s a talk show host, a rare fusion of diverse attributes.

  • Really great article, thanks for the link.

    I've been a huge Conan fan since his very early start on NBC and have followed him over the last 20 years. I had the amazing opportunity to actually work with him a couple years back helping to create the opening title sequence for his brand of The Tonight Show. He actually spoke to us about what Tobias mentioned, that The Tonight Show had been tarnished over the years and lost its luster, and that it was his goal to bring back the prestige it once had. Everything from the set design to the revamped theme to our direction for the Title Sequence stemmed from that desire. It's still one of the highlights of my career.

    One line at the very end of that article stuck out to me though, "He gets to do it his way, to a diminished but loyal fan base."

    He should have said "viewership" instead of "fan base". His viewers have diminished, but certainly not his fan base, which I would bet has grown since his move to and from The Tonight Show.