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.