Tonight, Conan O’Brien will conclude his two-night live engagement in his former hometown of New York City at the famous Radio City Music Hall. Last night, however, marked the first time the late night show host ever performed on stage at the giant venue. And, as expected, Coco giddily paraded out an armful of his famous friends.
When the man, himself, announced the tour weeks ago, he made no promises regarding the quality of his tour shows. And in comedy, especially the self deprecating kind Conan’s fans are accustomed to, it’s easy to play that “we’re not even trying” card. In fact, last night he told the packed house, “I want everyone to leave tonight thinking that was sort of worth it.”
And while last night’s show was by no means a completely thrown-together production, it certainly was partially thrown together. Conan admitted that much to the crowd toward the end of the show addressing a skit wherein he was joined onstage by Stephen Colbert (who re-ignited his fake beef with Conan by challenging Coco to a dance off), Andy Richter (who joined Conan for many sketches throughout the night) and Jon Stewart, dressed like a Mexican bull fighter (or maybe a waiter)?
In one of many references to the Tonight Show/NBC kerfuffle, Conan announced, “I’m standing 200 feet away from NBC headquarters. So ladies and gentlemen, sit back, relax and enjoy an incredibly awkward situation. You can tell there’s a sexual tension between me and that building across the street… If you listen very closely, you can hear the executives adding a ninth hour to the Today show.”
And so began a 20-minute-plus monologue-style address near the start of the show; he peppered light-hearted funnies with what seemed like earnest personal reflections born from his months out of the television spotlight as well as purposely thinly veiled (for legal reasons, of course) attacks against Jay Leno and some quality sight gags (including a photoshopped image of the TBS logo placed on the famous NBC studios marquee).
Near the end of the show, Conan brought to life the ultra popular bit from his former Tonight Show, wherein he plays clips from Walker, Texas Ranger — completely unedited — to expose the pure idiocy of the show. This was the famous-person catch-all bit– an uncomplicated way to rapid fire celebrities without much prep. Paul Rudd, The Office‘s John Krasinski and Saturday Night Live‘s Bill Hader all took turns pushing the lever that would trigger the start of each Walker clip.
Also, the band Vampire Weekend played a song. Honestly, I never heard them; wasn’t impressed. And comedian and Conan writer Deon Cole offered the crowd a set of stand-up comedy, which was filled with less than unique observations about black and white people and a lot of F-Bombs used as punctuation.
And I should note that Reggie Watts, who joined Conan recently as the opening act of the Legally Prohibited From Being Funny On Television Tour, was, as always, excellent. Reggie, who just released an album for Comedy Central Records, is usually seen across the country headlining small theaters and large comedy clubs. The musical improviser — think skillful use of electronica, vocal loops, and a great voice singing the most absurd of lyrics — got the huge crowd (presumably unfamiliar with his work) on his side in no time.
So, in the end, was it sort of worth it? Yes, it was sort of worth it. I’d say, even, slightly more than sort of worth it. Looking forward to November, when Conan will return to us all where he belongs– on television.