Stupefying Conan

Stupefying Conan

New Republic article here arguing that Conan O’Brien’s ascension to The Tonight Show will be the end of his comedy as we know it. “For nothing seems more anti-Conan–more antithetical to his irreverent, superficially collegiate but sophisticatedly subversive meta-humor–than being the company man who’s happy to do what he has to do to win the coveted corner office.”

I think this is a little naive, myself. Hands up, anyone who’s surprised that a man who’s done a network talk show for 12 years turns out to be a “company man.”

And I say that as a fan of Conan’s. Of the “big three” currently on the air, he’s the only one I will sometimes tune in on even if he doesn’t have a guest I like. At least to see the monologue and opening bit.

But I don’t think–

“the expansiveness of Conan’s mind has always promised a more expressive future–movies, solo TV specials, live stand-up, books, entertainment royalty.”

–is supportable in terms of O’Brien’s career path to date. People who really do “sophisticatedly subversive meta-humor” don’t get jobs interviewing sitcom stars in the first place. That’s why people like Conan, Jay and Dave do it.

And why Bill Hicks didn’t.

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