A Pledge to Conan From the Fans Who Got Him Into This Mess
I'm not usually concerned with celebrity drama - it's just doped up, pretty people wandering out of the containment field long enough to realize that problems still exist in the real world - but Conan O'Brien is different. As the uncomfortable wad of chemical reactions and mild retardation that is the Preteen Male, I still remember staying up late weeknights to watch him. In part because he was something new and different: In a sea of stagnant and recycled jokes about how men and women are different sometimes and other times they're not, Conan gave five minutes of air to a robot that stabbed hookers.
...and I miss him every day. But he was also the only creature on Earth that embodied awkwardness more than a pubescent boy. He was an alabaster giraffe that somebody crudely strapped into a human suit and then topped with a ginger pompadour-- presumably just to see how far they could take the joke before people couldn't suspend the disbelief anymore. And there he was: Succeeding on television. He embraced the awkwardness, played off of self-deprecating humor and somehow spun his approximately-eight-feet-of-uncooked-dough-body into a sex symbol.
That symbol is Â¶. He was the embodiment of hope to the more troglodytic of my generation, and hell - maybe he still is that embodiment to the next generation of shambling man-monsters we call teenage boys, assuming they're not too busy with their twitter-caching and their geo-PokÃ©mons. I don't know if he still has that appeal or, indeed, know literally anything about teenagers anymore; I ran screaming out of adolescence, and when I hit the border somebody gave me the legal right to drink--it's all just finely tuned memory loss since then. But sadly, somewhere in that bundle of shame-amnesia, I also forgot about Conan. Oh, I knew he existed, and I would speak fondly about his show if somebody brought it up. But I didn't watch it; not for years. Much like motherfuckers do about Dre, most of us forgot about Conan. Also like Dre: We should not have done that.
You left him alone in the car this entire time?! Did you at least remember to crack a window? You monster! When the whole Conan v. Leno clusterfuck went down, I took it as a sudden reminder that Conan was funny, eloquent, humble and had gracefully stumbled into his success; he didn't abuse or rape anybody to get there, unlike Leno (Did you know Jay Leno was a convicted rapist? You do now!). So we suddenly remembered Conan, and we came flocking back to his show... just in time to watch it go down in flames. Now, that's not to knock the show or the man: Of all the things that have gone down in flames, Conan's Tonight Show was easily the third funniest (just behind the West Elmhurst Clown College and the homes of my childhood rivals) but down it went, regardless.
"Hahahaha... aahahahahahaha! Who kicks the soccer ball like a queer now, Tommy Wiseman?"Now
If this image doesn't instantly fill you with disgust and rage, check your driver's license: You might be George Lopez. Conan has the better 11PM EST time slot, but he's still being immediately followed by George "I Couldn't Make Racial Humor Funny If You Duct Taped Me to Chris Rock" Lopez. The last things to be followed by George Lopez were commercials for Chinese Juice Tiger knock-offs, and the several dozen women he just raped. Conan O'Brien's last job was hosting the Tonight Show. That's Johnny Fucking Carson's Tonight Show. Now, seconds after his program finishes wrapping, you're going to see the face of George Lopez. As if they were goddamn equals! Look at this quote from TBS executives about the change: "Steve Koonin, president of Turner Entertainment Networks... pitched Lopez on the idea that both he and O'Brien are in their 40s (O'Brien turns 47 on Sunday) and appeal to a young demographic, while Leno and David Letterman are older and play to an older crowd. George saw the vision picked up the phone to speak with O'Brien immediately. With his own show just months old (it began in November), Lopez agreed to have 'Lopez Tonight' pushed back an hour." The implication here being that Lopez is graciously doing O'Brien a favor by allowing his show to be pushed back because hey, they're both in their 40s, gotta show some solidarity, right? Give the little red-headed boy with abandonment issues a break!
"Aw, lookit! Have a heart, George! Throw some of your literally dozens of viewers his way." And sure, that quote is likely just the PR spin on a conversation that went more like this: TBS Executive: We're pushing your show back, Lopez. Somehow we tricked Conan O'Brien into coming on board. I credit our Black Magic Department. Lopez: But... but I don't want to push my show back! It just started! I have a contract! TBS Executive: I heard you just bought yourself a nice used '89 Mazda Miata, yeah? Shame if you'd have to live in it. Lopez: Can you... can you at least tell them I had a vision? TBS Executive: Sure thing. And George? You keep up that comedy gold, buddy. Men and women really are different! Good stuff.
"The sexes are different, you know? Like, how women are normal size, right? But men are three-foot-tall goblins that murder joy!" But still, having George Lopez save face at the expense of Conan O'Brien just flies in the face of logic. He should count himself lucky that they're not making the announcement via TV spots featuring people spitting into Lopez's open mouth while he dances for Conan O'Brien's amusement. Clearly, this is a big step down in reputability for Conan, but goddamn... at least he's got a show again! While I certainly have no right to condemn all the other fans like me--who loved Conan fiercely and then promptly forgot about him like some mousy Poli-Sci major met and hastily bedded after the Phi Beta Kappa's annual Statubatory Jaeger-down--I still feel I owe something to the man. So I'd like to take this opportunity to circulate a handy list of things we can all do to help Conan avoid losing his new job at (and probably subsequently being forcibly Eiffel Towered by George Lopez and Jay Leno in the alleyways behind) TBS:
"Ooh, looks like somebody took a wrong turn, funny-man. Bring that pretty mouth over here; show my friend George how you kiss your momma." Things I Promise to Do with Conan's New Show: 1. Remember that it exists. 2. Set a reminder on my phone for early November, so that I can watch or at least DVR it. 3. Give a passing thought to supporting his sponsors, or at least to cease all attacks on them for whichever of the many long-forgotten reasons that have me currently engaged in guerrilla warfare with most major American corporations. 4. Anal.
I mean, just look at her: All grainy and slutty. You like being bad, slut? Things I Promise Not do with Conan's New Show: 1. Insist loudly to all around me that I keep meaning to watch it, but my nights are just so busy with awesome stuff (redhead orgies and cocaine gladiators) that I continuously forget to watch it. Which is really just a sad cover for my usual nightly schedule: Eating six Hot Pockets in a row and then having the Six-Hot-Pocket-Shits all night. 2. Delete the DVR scheduler because my techno-OCD stupidly insists that "it's on too often" and the many episodes are "cluttering up my DVR." When, in reality, I have several gigs of Futurama re-runs and 14 separate recordings of Timecop occupying space that is simply unnecessary (five Timecops would honestly fulfill all my needs). 3. Accidentally leave the channel on for the George Lopez show. 4. Anal. (It sounded hot in theory, but faced with the reality, I find I just respect the show too much to go through with it.)
Ah, hell. Look at you, all domestic. I can't do it. Let's just cuddle, baby. So, best of luck at the new network, Conan. Hopefully my generation can stop virtually shooting brown people in the face on our many different Virtual Brown People Face-Shooter games, upping the hardcore ante on our already disturbing pornography and refreshing Icanhascheezburger.com long enough to support a funny, classy and honestly nice guy who genuinely deserves it. I know I certainly will. Probably. I mean, unless Timecop is on.
You can buy Robert's book, Everything is Going to Kill Everybody: The Terrifyingly Real Ways the World Wants You Dead, or find him on Twitter, Facebook and his own site, I Fight Robots or you could go back and buy his book again - man, wouldn't that be crazy? Nobody would expect it! You should do that.