Saturday, January 23, 2010

Late Nights....

Hello, and welcome to Saturday.

Wanted to take minute to post a video, that you can watch until NBC pulls it down.

I haven't had a horse in the hunt in this Late Night mess, watching very, very little of it, and getting only the best soundbites when they replay them on my drive into work in the mornings. Of those, I can say that they are the best soundbites to come out of late night talkdom in several years. I've always believed that David Letterman's at his best when he's lashing out at somebody in particular, and I'd never seen Conan backed into a proverbial corner (such a corner, we should all be so lucky to be backed into, but that's for another four line pararaph later in this post).

I didn't really have a dog in the whole hunt. If I've watched any late night talk in the past year or so, it's been Craig Ferguson, whose sense of humor I've found is fairly compatible with my own. I used to be a regular Letterman watcher, and I'd catch Conan from time to time, as he's got a goofy sensibility that agrees with me very much. I'll also say that Jay Leno's comedy never agreed with me much, and I can't say that I've watched much of Jay Leno's run on the Tonight Show or the Jay Leno Show. It's simply a matter of taste.

Like I said, I haven't watched much late night TV in the past year. Craig Ferguson, I've caught a few times, and then only because I was getting home when his show was on. Beyond that, I made only a consciouse effort a couple of times. I think I've caught a couple episodes of Letterman, a segment of the Jay Leno show when Jimmy Norton had a segment, and one particularly troublesome segment on the Jimmy Fallon show with Steve Martin and Paul Simon that made me uncomfortable for the guests, and angry that Jimmy Fallon is still a celebrity.

I did want to take a moment, though, to speak on Conan's final speech, to the "young people," telling them not to be cynical. I guess I agree with the sentiment, although I think there's a valuable lesson in this whole deal about the intentions of management, and the value (and lack thereof) in being a team player. Seems to me that a little more cynicism, at least as it regards the intentions of the corporate folks might have done everybody a little more good.

A lot of people have wanted to make Jay Leno the bad guy in this whole deal, and that's unfortunate. I'm about to launch into a paragraph against the man, but at the end of the day, his end of the deal was made in good faith.

Yes, there are decisions he could have made, and decisions my NBC management that he could have fought. At the end of the day, Jay was a company guy. Now, whether he ws a company guy because he'd gotten the catbird seat years and years ago is not something I'm going to debate. But, when NBC came to him and said "We wanna make Conan O'Brien the guy in 2009," Jay had the opportunity to take his ball and go elsewhere. Jay was loyal to the company that had largely made him a household name, and had faith in their decisions. He agreed, largely because he felt like NBC was doing the right thing.

And I think that's where the fault lies. For better or for worse, Conan and Jay (like the majority of us) work in a corporate environment, where their values were simply numbers on a spreadsheet somewhere. For all the loyalty that Jay and Conan had for NBC, they didn't have to have any to Jay or Conan, for much longer than a couple of ratings quarters. Conan didn't do the business that Jay did, in terms of revenue. And while it left me with a sour taste in my mouth for Jay to go along to get along, when it looked like NBC was first making noises to put Jay back at 11:30, ultimately, it's not Jay's decision.

Let me speak on Conan for a second. I look at Conan's run as damned for a couple of reasons. For better or for worse, the biggest part of Conan's fanbase is somewhere in my general concentric circles of age and/or bullshit, and younger. Conan got Late Night when I was in college, and that's when I did the bulk of my watching. He came out of left field, from time to time, and threw a joke curveball or three that I enjoyed. And, by the way, he had a joke style that was different from Letterman, and most definitely from Leno. I dug it, and I can't think of a better place in this rant to praise him for not changing his comedy style (fuck Dick Ebersole, by the way...precisely the reason I don't care for Jay Leno or Jimmy Fallon is that they craft their acts so that they appeal to the greatest number of people...never much cared for the lowest common denominator comedy, myself) when he took the 11:30 spot.

But here's the thing, and here's the first part of Conan being damned from the start. I'm in the middle of the demographic NBC was going for, that Conan was supposed to bring in. And I never watched.

Can't say way precisely. Part of it's the whole bit where I haven't really felt like I needed to watch a late night talk show (or a talk show of any time of the day, really). Part of it is my own schedule. And while I sometimes wish my social life was a little more burgeoning, I'll say that I'm out enough that it's just not a priority to watch late night TV.

Or, if I am at home watching TV at night, I (like many dozen Americans) have the Tivo or other DVR system, and am watching something I might have missed earlier in the night. Come to think of it, outside of Lost, I can't think of much television that I watched Live in the past couple of years. I think a lot of people are like that.

Add to that, it's 2010, and we have 3 bajillion channels full of the exact forms of comedy I was looking for when I first turned to Conan O'Brien in 1995 or 1996. Likewise, the internet is full of fun and interesting stuff that I can bring up at any time of the day.

Like this:

Last thing that damned Conan? Now, I'm not a fan of Jay, but know people who are. And there were a number of people who absolutely did not like Jay's 10 o'clock show. It wasn't what they were looking for, and they weren't watching. Did it affect Conan? Dunno. I would say so, especially if local news affiliates were bitching about Jay affecting their revenue for their 11 o'clock news programs....

Anyway, as I'm running out of steam, I would like to say this, finally. Part of the reason I never jumped on the whole Team Coco wagon was A.) I hate the name Coco and B.) I'd not watched much in the past year and C.) the dude was going to draw 8 figures whichever way the cookie crumbled. I'd like to say that it was pleasing to hear severence for the crew was something of a sticking point in the final negotiations. I'd say that most guys probably would find a way to take care of their staffs.

(I'd like very much right now to make some kind of joke about Letterman has somebody taking care of his staff for him, but I'm not nearly clever enough).

Suffice it to say, part of my not taking a lot of interest in the whole shebang was that it wouldn't really change my personal status quo, all that much. I'm still not going to be watching much late night television, even after Conan eventually comes back (to Fox, or wherever he ends up with his 32 million dollar pompadour). I guess that's my final point. The amount of money being thrown about was offputting. Somebody on Twitter made a joke (I think it was Barry, but I can't remember for sure, and I apologize), but it went something along the lines of negotiating a severance package for $45 and two free oil changes at Jiffy Lube. We should all be so fortunate to be backed into a situation where "losing" means taking home a $32 million dollar paycheck as a buyout.

It's hard to gnash my teeth about somebody who'll be making more money than I and ten of my closest friends put together will see in our lifetimes. Meanwhile, it's 2010, and I can find any number of things I want to laugh at, so I'm not relying on NBC to give me all my funny.

Y'all take it easy.


Blogger Snotty Dog said...

Well said! I don't much care for Leno either. I like Jimmy Kimmel, Conan, and the show Chelsey Lately. Other than that too many shows, not enough time.

Not to mention for every 1/2 hour of TV you watch.., 16 minutes (I've timed them!!) are repeat commercials.

And of course NOW.., we have pop up ads!! Pretty soon, you'll have to purchase virus protection for your TV!!

10:46 AM  

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