Monday, October 16, 2006

The Librarian

Went to a taping of Late Night with Conan O'Brien today. I'd been once before, around 1999. So it was almost like a new experience.

The main thing I noticed was how the whole operation differs from Colbert. I remember when Conan was the hot new show. The same old talk format, but a little wackier, a little more juvenile, and usually funnier. Especially in the Andy Richter days. Now Conan just goes through the motions. They are funny motions, don't get me wrong. But there was a slight lack of excitement in that studio. A Colbert taping is like a concert. I see all these old shows becoming more Daily Show/Colbert-y in the near future, in whatever ways they can. Today was like going back to the fifties or something. The live band with band leader, the glossy network-TV production, the ancient studio with curtain, Regis Philbin...

That's right, our main guest was Reej. He started with a story that Conan easily trumped with his own. Then he and Conan compared--and rubbed--feet. Conan's looked like cartoon feet you might draw if you were completing that caricature of him.

Then there was some model from Brazil. She did a good job, considering English isn't her first language. She introduced her line of Victoria's Secret body glitter, which Conan proceeded to pour out all over the desk and rub on his face. Seeing his pale skin next to the model's tan was weird. That guy is a real freak of nature.

Then there was a hip, young, (read: shitty music-playing) country-ish dude. Chan and I agreed the song he played was literally the worst song ever written. It was as if a really talented artist went to great lenghts to write a purposely bad song for a movie or gag or something.

For what the show is, I love it. Conan always cracks me up. And I love how they do all those off-the-wall characters. I mean, yeah, we're almost at "parody of themselves" stage, but still, you'd never see Jay Leno break out a masturbating bear.

The warm-up comic is a guy you've probably seen do characters on the show. Tonight he played a female sit-com character. That guy's got a great sense of humor. His pre-show act was really funny. "Don't worry, this whole complex is secure. We guarantee you an explosion-free experience. Look at what I need to get into Rockefeller Center. It's this laminated rectangle. Al-Qaeda's comin' in here with triangles, and we say, 'Sorry....'"

I recommend going to Conan once, if you're a fan. Of course there's the waiting. And the more waiting. But you'll have a good time. Especially if you don't go to tapings all the time like I seem to. You can also check out Top of the Rock while you're there. Which is like the Empire State Building Observation Deck without the crappy vision-blocking fence.

I'm old enough to have seen two old Letterman shows from his NBC days taped there back in the late 80's. I've been back in that studio once since Conan's been doing his show, but not for a Conan was work related. I've also been in the SNL studio for work a few times, but never for an SNL taping.

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Location: Rhode Island, United States