Boo hoo, Conan


In better times

Truth is, Conan O'Brien just isn't good enough. Honestly, I tried to stomach his sophomoric humor when he took over the Tonight Show, but gave it up as hopeless.

O'Brien's supporters seek to portray him as hip and sophisticated, and that the folks who prefer Leno as uncool. I spotted this illustrative post on Entertainment Weekly from Brenda:

hey chevychase, a little lesson in how network television works. leno
was the bigger draw because he had a better prime-time lead in, when
NBC used to be a decent network with good dramas on at 10pm. conan's
problems (and NBC didn't view them as HIS problems, incidentally) were
because leno's show was pulling horrendous numbers (notice they
canceled jay, NOT conan). NBC knew that conan needed time to grow an
audience because he was largely unknown to the unwashed masses who
appreciated the tonight show with jay leno. conan is too smart for
network TV
. the only reason he did well at 12:30am is because
censorship rules change after midnight and he was allowed to do "his"
he needs to go to cable to do the kind of show conan fans would
really appreciate. [Emphasis added.]

Leno beat Conan in the ratings, which in the minds of the elite is a bad thing. Conan, waiting all those years to sit in the Tonight Show host's chair, blew it.

Conan's whining about how he won't be a party to the destruction of the Tonight Show is as sophomoric as his comedy. Brenda is right; he's probably better suited to a niche audience on cable. Call it High School Comedy.

Below: What was said before Conan started and some insight to why he failed.


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  • Continually calling his humor 'sophomoric' makes you sound decidedly 'senior'. Conan is the talk show host of my generation, and the network that realizes this is going to reap the rewards in the future. I'm sorry to see that you are as short-sighted as the execs at NBC.

  • You can call it sophomoric, but most people equate Leno's humor to the sophistication of baby food. Leno really doesn't have fans, he just had fans of the Tonight Show franchise and the concept of a late night talk show and found him generic enough to not be off-putting. While this is a business and I understand that people will and do get hurt, NBC needs to hold its end and only commit to contracts it intends to hold up. It seems that NBC's main motivation behind signing Conan in 2004 was to secure 5 more years of his "Late Night" show rather than giving him the Tonight Show. They just used the Tonight show as a bargaining chip. NBC has a history of doing something that benefits them in the short term, and creates a mess in the long term. Even with a better lead in, Conan may have still been struggling, but probably not as bad. Conan started off well for the first week or 2 then saw a sharp drop, though remained roughly even with Letterman until Leno's show started and fell behind.

  • I suggest you do your research old man before blogging a "sophomoric" attack on something you know very little about. Check out the ratings for the three pre-Hugh Grant years that Letterman was slaughtering Leno.

    There is a reason why Conan and Letterman are respected in the comedy community and Jay Leno is not. Not since the early nineties at least. Maybe you should look into that as well.

    So are you attacking him because of the ratings he never had the chance to get or because you have a personal grudge against the guy? To accuse him of whining is hilarious. That just makes you look foolish.

    You would appreciate Conan if you ever were a fan of Monty Python, early-SNL or SCTV but sadly because of your age you were still out of touch back then.

  • I think the author is trahing Conan because Conan is young. And we know youth skews liberal. I've read Byrne a few times, IMO he is a walking Republican talking point. Just another way for the conservatives to try and 'conserve' something (Leno) even if its time for it to move on.

  • This probably becomes moot, because NBC isn't going to let the "page tours" and comments about making sure he is not seen for three and a half years by keeping him on NBC last much longer.

    It was sort of interesting that the plot went from "Leno is killing the affiliates' ratings on the news" (not that Channel 5 wasn't doing enough to kill its own news product, with the similar Sirott fiasco) to "Leno beat Letterman and Conan didn't."

  • The couth language I noted before with regard to youth (in that case who thought Letterman's scandal was funny).

  • The Conan-Jay "story" is a result of NBC's relentless pursuit of more and more profit and they have the perfect right to pursue more and more profit . But just like the banks and mortgage brokers who have trashed our economy in pursuit of more and more profit, NBC has trashed its prime time and late-night schedule. NBC thought that Jay could fill those 5 prime time hours at a very very low cost. NBC hailed their decision as "visionary". But, really, it was a corporate bean-counter decision.
    Corporations run our government. Look at the healthcare "reform" "debate". Corporations run our airwaves. Look at how much reality programming there is these days instead of scripted material which employs more people.
    We eat corporate processed food. We view corporate processed media.


  • Hey Dennis, I looked at your picture. You scream uncool. If you prefer that backstabbing and classless Leno then you can watch NBC's garbage with him. Leno can hold onto the ratings for another couple of years but then his old as hell audience will die off. Conan is by far the better long term play.

    And for the record, Leno maybe the same kind of comments about NBC and their horrible place in the ratings for years without the NBC execs getting their panties in a bunch. This is clearly about a personal issue they have with Conan, even though he is the best thing in late night.

  • For those who are too young - or were too uninterested, at the time - to recall, it might help to get some background on this story. Read all about how Leno acquired The Tonight Show gig, back in 1993. (NY Times; 1994)

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