So, last night was the premiere of Conan and you know what? It’s pretty much the same show Conan O’Brien has been doing for a while now-well executed and fun to watch. Many things looked the same, the people, the set, but there was something different about the night. The premiere show was a win was because the host had a new vigor for what he was doing. Though he’s airing earlier, we get the impression that now he’s on cable Conan is going to be looser and edgier than previous incarnations. All great news because as good as it was to see Conan back on the air, there were bits of the night that didn’t work, and it seemed to be parts that everyone else does in late night.
As probably expected, his cold open and opening monologue jokes were mainly about his recent plight with the host taking jabs at himself, often joking about now being on basic cable and a pretty great joke about wanting to be a late night host on basic cable since he was 46. Cold open and monologue are wins.
One would think the peak of the night’s zaniness might be the return of the masturbating bear (who wasn’t mentioned by name) but for us it was probably was when Conan and co-host/announcer Andy Richter donned Conan-inspired Halloween masks (called “Ex Talk Show Masks”). Both parts were wins.
The return of the “Masturbating Bear”:
The guests were dragging. With no offense to Seth Rogen or Lea Michelle, but the fun was put on the backburner for some pretty run-of-the-mill celeb new project plugging. Yes, this is how it’s always been done but why does it have to be? Guests were just meh, and probably the least fun parts of the night, even with Rogen’s stoner chuckle.
Post celeb interviews, things kicked back up with the appearance of Conan’s long-time friend Jack White dropping by. The duo performed the song “20 Flight Rock,” a song from an album the duo recorded this summer. Then a post-performance interview the two discussed the projects more in depth. Musical guest, win.
All in all, it’s great to have Conan back, we missed him…and the masturbating bear. This show is solid with potential to be amazing.
Conan is in a position where he can try new things, so we urge him to keep doing just that. There’s less expectancy for ratings at basic cable so why not try to mix things up? Get rid of the boring guests. Have just the ones (like Tom Hanks) who are willing to be fun and make comedy. Nix the celebs that are just there to plug new perfume lines. Do more of the “Conan” thing and less of the “traditional” late night talk show thing. Implement the web marketing (which has been amazing up to this point) by share clips that can spread across the web.
At this moment, Conan has culture cred, to keep it all he has to do is stick to his bottom line of entertaining people in ways only he can. If he can continue to give fans something they can’t see anywhere else, they’ll stick around.