Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Conan the Comedian

Last night I watched Late Night With Conan O'Brien. I wouldn't say I'm a regular viewer by any means, but I do like Conan very much, and I catch his show occasionally. I have to say that last night's show was one of the strangest I've seen, and that's saying something.

First off, lately Conan has been showing a bunch of clips from Walker, Texas Ranger, a cheesily awful television show which stars Chuck Norris and airs on the USA Network. Those are amusing just because they're so bad, and because Conan seems to derive so much glee just from being able to show them.

Last night's guests were Tom Arnold and Dan Radcliffe (star of the Harry Potter films), and the musical guest was John Pizzarelli. Tom Arnold came out extremely high-strung, so much so that he was practically vibrating. He was just hard to watch. Dan Radcliffe was interesting and amusing, but he was clearly nervous. I suppose that's understandable for a 14-year-old kid, even if he is an actor. The musical guest just sucked. He was a pretty good jazz guitarist, but he could not sing. I say that as an accomplished not-singer myself. If I had to listen to him sing another song, I would have gone on a scavenger hunt for razor blades.

The funniest Conan guests I can remember have been Harrison Ford and "The Crocodile Hunter" Steve Irwin. Harrison Ford (who is known to me, now and forever, as Captain Solo) was on there to promote the movie K19: The Widowmaker, and ended up talking about how he would love to do a Dumb and Dumber-type movie. Steve Irwin was just incredibly energetic and unintentionally funny as he bounced around, talking in his Austrailian accent about his encounters with various animals.

Of course, the reason I initially started to enjoy Conan's show was Andy Richter, his sidekick who has since moved on to other things. He was a great foil for Conan, who is elaborately goofy and over-the-top. Andy could play on that, but he was more dry and subtle. Damned funny, though. I really thought that the show would have a hard time surviving after Andy left, but I'm glad to see that it's still thriving.

I developed my fondness for Conan (and Andy) during my freshman year in college. I started off at Wright State University in Dayton, and my roommate was a great guy named Matt. Just about every night, we'd huddle in front of my TV, usually with our friends Jacki and Lora, and watch late night television. We'd start off with Letterman (Leno just isn't that funny...he isn't goofy enough), then switch over to Conan when that ended. After Conan we'd watch Real Stories of the Highway Patrol, and whatever real-life cop shows came on after that. Those were good times.

Speaking of Letterman, I also caught about half of his show last night. I don't have all that much to say about it, except that I was thrilled with the musical guest. It was a band called Velvet Revolver, which includes some former members of Guns N' Roses and the lead singer of the Stone Temple Pilots. I'm a huge fan of Guns N' Roses, and these guys have been out of circulation for way too long. It's too bad that Axl Rose couldn't keep his shit together so GNR could still be around, but I think Scott Weiland will be a more than adequate replacement. I really liked the song they played on the show, and I'm stoked to hear more stuff from them.

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