This whole NBC/Conan O'Brien vs Jay Leno Tonight Show BS has really been the focus of attention for the past two weeks or so. It is my opinion that NBC is making a terrible, horrible, no-good very bad mistake by booting Conan O'Brien (someone who is insanely FUNNY and likeable) from the Tonight Show in favor of stupid old Jay Leno and his goddamned chin (someone who is insanely UNFUNNY, stale, and tame). I know Conan's show hasn't done as well as NBC would have liked ratings-wise in the SEVEN MONTHS it was on the air, but come on. Conan O'Brien is such a more entertaining and genuinely funny person than Leno, who should have retired by now.
In the past couple weeks, the Internet has completely exploded with coverage on this story, making it seem much more important than it actually is. After all, as Conan admitted himself, this is just a story about entertainment news involving millionaire celebrity comedians, not really something that people should get all riled up about. And yet, we have, myself included.
There is currently a rally going on in front of Universal City and the Conan O'Brien NBC studio, organized by the Facebook group called I'm with CoCo. In the past week I've seen the picture posted above all over the Web, including on my personal Twitter account and countless Facebook user profiles, as a sort of showing of solidarity in this 'crisis' of late-night hosting.
I attended the rally this afternoon, despite being overcome with allergies or a cold, and despite the rainstorm going on. When I got there around 11:45 am there were already about two hundred people there, I'd guesstimate, and they were picketing, with home-made signs professing their support for Conan and disdain for the Evil Chin. Cars drove by honking in support.
Eventually the rain become overbearing, and the wind ripped around relentlessly, tearing up many umbrellas...including my own, a giveaway Oakland A's umbrella I obtained at a game about five years ago. The rain tattered and tore the umbrella until it was useless and hopelessly bent out of shape.
I was saddened by this loss but vowed to carry on, despite the jagged pointy metal edges and the relentless violent wind gusts blowing the rain into me at an angle.
This insane downpour didn't seem to have kept many people away from attending this rally, as the output was considerably better than I was expecting, given the conditions. It just goes to show you: Conan O'Brien fans really care about this situation, going outside in this horrible weather and showing their support for Conan during this ordeal.
Let's get one thing straight: yes, Conan is receiving a nice hefty payday out of this from NBC, and he will be able to move to another network or something and continue broadcasting, but the whole principle of the situation is what bothers me and so many other Conan die-hards. This rally probably won't directly accomplish anything, but it has attracted interest from more than a thousand people and some news networks, who were there interviewing people in the rain. NBC will feel the impact of this when its audience dwindles away to nothing, which I hope happens.
Yes, there are more serious things to spend time protesting and rallying for than who hosts a late night talk show, but sometimes you have to show support for entertainers who are being fucked around by their bosses, which is the case for Conan right now.
When you sign a contract to host a late night program, you should be able to count on doing so FOR LONGER THAN SEVEN MONTHS. NBC, though, has said "meh we're over it" and decided to re-install Jay Leno as the Tonight Show host, despite the fact that Jay Leno is horribly lame and unfunny.
In the long run, I really hope NBC experiences a huge drop-off in ratings after the switch, as I for one will not be supporting the network. I'll watch my NBC shows on sketchy non-Hulu.com websites, so as to not help out in giving NBC any website traffic. I encourage all other Conan O'Brien fans to do the same. Considering how NBC's only really good shows are the Office and Parks & Recreation (ok, maybe 30 Rock), this shouldn't be too hard to handle.
Seeing the turnout today at the I'm with CoCo rally really showed me just how passionate his fans are; while they might not all have been watching the Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien enough, that doesn't mean they weren't Conan fans; since Conan took over the show in June, the jokes and the content were considerably dumbed-down from what they were previously on Late Night with Conan. This probably turned off some of his long-time fans, upset over the change in content that was necessary given the earlier timeslot. Fans who loved the Masturbating Bear and Triumph the Insult Comic Dog were probably miffed that they weren't really a part of the new show, so they stopped watching. Hence, the ratings went down, and the show is in jeopardy.
Personally, I've attended tapings of Late Night with Conan O'Brien in New York in 2006 and San Francisco in 2008.
I also went to a taping of the Tonight Show last Monday, the 11th, and actually got a few seconds of screen time during the Audiencey Awards segment (yeah yeah, shameless plug, but it's pretty damn awesome to see yourself on TV). Conan truly is a hilarious, irreverent comedian, the perfect type of person to host a late-night talk show. Late Night with Conan O'Brien was consistently funny, and when I heard he was taking over for Jay Leno on the Tonight Show, I was really excited. I had tried to get tickets to a taping since the premiere in June, but was unable to do so until last week.
NBC is making a stupid mistake replacing Conan with Leno. EVERYONE seems to be against Leno and NBC in this, including other late night hosts, such as Jimmy Kimmel, who hosted an entire episode of his show Jimmy Kimmel Live last week dressed as Leno, complete with ridiculous fake chin and silly hair. It was quite amazing, and he even went on Leno the next night for a brief interview in which he COMPLETELY DOMINATED Leno and made fun of him to his face, as well as pointing out that "Conan and I have children, you have cars. You have $800 million. Leave our shows alone!" to which Jay didn't really have much of a comeback.
Since this situation has gone on, Conan's show has almost reverted back to what it was before, as he just doesn't give a shit anymore. The jokes are almost always at the expense of NBC, with Conan laughing at how the Olympics on NBC are expected to be a huge loss in money for the network. He's obviously bitter about the whole thing, and rightly so. He and his entire staff (or most of them) UPROOTED themselves and MOVED out to Los Angeles for this show, which was supposed to be a long-term thing. Yes, Conan is rich and won't have to worry about anything financially, but what about his staff? They moved out here with promise of a long-term job, and now NBC is just going to lay them all off, essentially. It's fucked up.
I know this has been a really long read, but I had to vent on the situation, as an avid Conan fan (and a fan of humor in general). If you honestly prefer Jay Leno over Conan O'Brien, you just don't appreciate or really understand humor.
What NBC is doing to Conan O'Brien is shameful, and I hope the network experiences exceptionally low ratings as a result. Considering they're already usually in last place for ratings anyway, that shouldn't be very hard.
I'll follow Conan wherever he ends up, and watch whatever show he gets next. As for NBC, you've lost a viewer because of your nonsense. I hope other Conan fans follow suit.
Conan = yes.
Jay Leno = no.