As you can see, my allegiance in the Late Night War is pretty clear: #teamconan, all the way. And man, what a ride it’s been.
When news broke that NBC was considering bumping Conan to a later timeslot to accommodate the increasingly-tired, perennially-unfunny Jay Leno, I felt bad for the guy, sure. But I never thought I would get so worked up about something that has absolutely no effect on my life.
I almost never watch the Tonight Show, and while I always had affection for Conan, I could take or leave his show. No more. Now, it seems nearly everyone has chosen a side, and the Twitterverse has exploded in a flurry of hashtags and trending topics. Even I, a person who until two weeks ago didn’t even have a Twitter account, have been micro-blogging about the scuffle.
But why should anyone care? Screwing over a talented, eloquent guy aside, NBC has been going down in flames for years, and, as some of my friends argued at Tuesday trivia, Coco hasn’t delivered the ratings the network so desperately needed. (Though neither has Leno, whose show had affiliates threatening a boycott and GOT CANCELLED. Doesn’t exactly scream late-night longevity, does it?)
Yet Conan’s crisis has transformed his ailing show into appointment television, with the affable ginger mining comedy gold through biting monologues and various other hilarious bits and bantering with guests.
Last night’s show was particularly inspired, starting with his trademark self-deprecating monologue (“You can do anything you want, kids, unless Jay Leno wants to do it, too!”), an amazing cameo from 30 Rock‘s Kenneth the Page (“This is the 5:00 tour. If it started any later, it wouldn’t be the 5:00 tour.”), and a fantastic sit-down with Ricky Gervais, where the comic chided Conan about his lack of discernible skills and his unlikely dream of becoming a lifeguard (“I think your skin would dazzle ships.”).
There have been dueling reports today that both confirm and deny NBC has taken the reins from Conan and thrust them into Leno’s chubby hands, and probably many more to come in the hours, days, and weeks ahead. The War is by no means over. But as Videogum has so astutely reported, Jeff Zucker is still dead. And no matter the outcome, Team Conan isn’t about to go quietly into Tonight.