Tonight, Conan O’Brien and the “Legally Prohibited From Being Funny On Television” tour returns to New York City — the site of most of his 17-year partnership with NBC, and the heart of Team Coco, the movement that buoyed him to this tour. If you’ve already forgotten the history, it’s here (and here and here), but you probably remember well that Conan agreed to leave NBC after they paid out a hefty penalty and barred him from TV appearances until September. Then Conan announced a live cross-country tour, and then he struck a deal to return to the airwaves on TBS. The arc of Conan’s return has played out with these developments since January — but tonight is the first night that Conan is back in New York City for an official gig. It’s at Radio City. And it’s gonna be good.
How do I know that? Because I’ve seen the show — twice. The first was in LA, at the huge and sprawling Gibson Ampitheater, at the end of April, the second last weekend at the much-smaller and consequently way more awesome Massey Hall. Having seen it twice in both environments I can speak to tonight’s show — but then again, the main elements of it have been out circulating on YouTube since the kickoff in Eugene, Oregon. So the curious are no doubt aware. Still, I got some good video and stills from both events, and put together a small sampling for you to enjoy below.
A few notes: It’s all from Toronto, save for the clip of Conan as an unnamed and surely-not-based-on-any-real-person TV executive, because my seat in Toronto was awesome (ten rows from the stage and on the aisle). Also, I tried to keep the punchlines to Toronto-specific so as not to step on any for tonight (I know it’s on line, but still). The relevant stuff to watch for: The awesome Toronto welcome (including the sign); Conan shirtless (well done, sir!), Conan’s impression of
Leno Ludacris ; his shout-out to his “hockey beard”; his guitar stylings; and a reiteration of his take on how everything went down. Once his tour wraps up I’ll put together something longer for those who didn’t get to see, but in the meantime, here you go:
Some notes re: tonight:
1. Gary Coleman – One of the bits in the act centers on Diff’rent Strokes. Like Avenue Q, it will be noticeable and striking based on recent news; also like Avenue Q, they may keep it, anyway.
2. Glee – There’s a joke about clearing out to make room for the touring cast of Glee. Funnily, the touring cast of Glee was just at Radio City this weekend. Only a nigling nitpicking purist would fret over that kind of anachronism, but, well, you’ve met me.
3. Special Guests – The special guests in LA were off the charts — Jim Carrey, Seth Green, Sarah Silverman to name a few — but I was also sorta relieved there were none in Toronto (though Andy Richter‘s comparison to Howie Mandell to poutine was nice). The show is long, packed with songs, bits, bits from other comedians (Richter and Tonight Show w/ Conan regular Dion Cole), plus clips and, certainly, an encore or two (in Toronto he did “The Weight” by The (Canadian) Band – and if anyone has that video, please send it! Because it was awesome). Point being, expect a cavalcade of guest stars to trot across the Radio City Stage and make their allegiance to the Red-Headed One known. Just also be prepared for a loooong show.
4. The Aforementioned Arc – When this show was written, let alone kicked off, Conan didn’t know where he’d end up. It was before TBS, before 60 Minutes, hell, it was before Twitter. In Toronto, I was watching to see if some of the material would have been updated and for the most part, it wasn’t (especially some of Dion Cole’s jokes, IMHO). I wonder if they will tighten it a bit to reflect that now that they are on home turf.
5. Jim Carrey’s Junk – At the end of LA, Carrey came out in a weirdo costume with fruitlings over his crotch. I hope he stays put. New Yorkers don’t have to see that.
Here are some pics:
Conan welcomes the Masturbating Bear back into the fold (before his magical transformation into the Self-Pleasuring Panda)(that’s been out for months, I’m not spoiling that).
Andy Richter gallops on.
The Bat from “Bat out of Hell.” If you have to ask….
See that blue elbow poking out? That’s Conan during the encore in Toronto, running up to the balconies to say hi. He is not making out with that woman in front, despite what it looks like. Oh also, I was one of the people he high-fived running up the aisle. His hands are soft, smooth and dry.
Conan and the Coc-ettes.
Conan can’t believe Sn00ki gets to be on TV and he doesn’t.
Triumph’s schtick is customized for every city. Will he show up in person in New York to poop on the crowd, I wonder?
I think he’s almost past this stage now. Almost.
If you’re not going and want to see more, there are some videos on the next page. Everything except the YouTube vids were shot by my super-professional hand. You’ll watch them shake and like it.
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