This week was an historic one for television here in the States. (That last phrase is a nod to my readers in India, the United Kingdom, and parts unknown.) Allow me to be among the last to share my thoughts on the Tonight Show changeover.
Leno or Letterman. For years, the question has been as essential to any get-to-know-me email questionnaire or Facebook quiz as Coke or Pepsi, paper or plastic, Lauren or Audrina. But like my dad said about my weekly allowance when I turned 35, those days are over, son.
I should preface this by saying that I've always been a Letterman guy. I never watched Leno much, unless someone I wanted to see was on. Unlike my Mom, who always seemed to be able to see every second of both shows even though they're on at exactly the same time. She does the same thing with Good Morning America and that show with Matt Lauer.
Ironically, when Leno announced he would be stepping down--like eight years ago--it caused me to start watching Letterman more often, because I suddenly realized he wouldn't be around forever, either.
Leno's last Tonight Show is one of those events that gives tangible evidence of the passing of time. The end of something that spanned several years of our lifetimes. It's the kind of event you want to experience being surrounded by those who mean the most to you. So naturally, I watched it with the Darryls.
The Jay Walking flashbacks were hilarious and the end was cool. But the entire segment with Conan, I didn't find funny at all. None of us did. We were sitting there waiting to laugh, wanting to laugh, but unable to. It's kinda like that dream where you try to scream but can't.
And I'd like to think that our collective sense of humor encompasses a broad spectrum of comedy, ranging from incredibly childish to somewhat immature. LJ enjoys Wipeout and Chelsea Lately. Wolfgang is a fan of "that's what she said" and jokes found on keychains. While I laugh at The Office, Dumb & Dumber, and people with jet wings on their vehicles.
I missed Conan's first Tonight Show as I was on my way back from Nashville, but I did catch him Tuesday night. Again, I wasn't overly impressed. I'm sure he'll become more comfortable in time, but I'm already back to watching Letterman.
That's the great thing about television. If nothing good is on one channel, you can spend several minutes surfing through tens or hundreds of other channels. Chances are, you'll find nothing on them, either. But at least you've killed a few minutes looking.
It's not exactly going out on a limb to say Conan will probably never become an icon like Carson, or even Letterman. I imagine he'll probably wind up falling somewhere between Arsenio and Chevy Chase in the pages of late night history. Just think if Arsenio was still around, the dog pound last Friday night could have been People Who Couldn't Get In To Leno's Last Tonight Show. *sniff* (OK, it's been fifteen years, Bone. Let it go.)
Earlier this week, I was watching that Alex Trebek show and they had a Conan O'Brien category. On nearly all the questions, the contestants just stood there, mouths agape, not buzzing in. I felt bad for him. Conan, not Alex.
Then I thought, maybe really smart people just go to bed early. Which would help explain why I'm up to 1 AM most weeknights.
"I stay up with the late late show. It's just another way I know, to get through one night a day..."