June 27, 2011

June 27, 2011

In My Opinion: Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop

Whether you were paying attention to the Conan vs. Leno saga last year, you should fall pretty firmly on Team Coco. I’m pretty sure the only people who think Conan didn’t get screwed were born shortly after World War II. Those ARE the only people keeping him on the air, yes? (Yes, I just threw an entire generation under the bus.)

Anyway, after Conan settled with NBC, he was legally prohibited from appearing on TV for a few months. While the network probably assumed he would spend that time counting his cash and/or swimming through gold coins a la Scrooge McDuck, Conan instead decided to take his show on the road. He visited a whole mess o’ cities, sang/danced/greeted the fans, and basically threw what sidekick Andy Richter termed “the best summer camp ever.”

Not that it was easy or anything. And this film captures just how tortured the creative process can be when you’re as crippled by self-doubt as Coco. Honestly, I was a bit surprised as how raw the footage was. The teasing-bordering-on-verbal-abuse of the staff. Blistering anger at network heads and his own management. One really awkward mockery of Jack McBrayer. We love Conan for his biting wit, but that selfsame wit can turn hurtful on a dime.

I enjoyed a peek inside Conan’s house, and quick glimpses of his wife and kids. During one stop, he has the same sort of video chat problems that plague all of us on travel. He has to sit through house of crappy acts at the Harvard college reunion before going on with his own band. Having never been backstage during an event of the magnitude of his shows, I also liked seeing what all goes on in a green room. Surprisingly, it’s mostly business.

This movie didn’t make me like Conan less. It did, however, paint a fuller picture of the man. He’s more than a string-dancing pompadour.

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