Conan O'Brien: On the scene at opening night of his comedy tour

conan-obrienImage Credit: Michael Buckner/GettyIt was a cool and drizzly night in Eugene, Ore., on April 12, but no one there will remember that. Nope, all they’ll recall is the sudden arrival of a massive warm front in the form of Conan O’Brien, and that everything felt okay in the pop-culture world again. From the moment the former host of Late Night (15 years, five months) and The Tonight Show (seven-and-a-half months) bounded out on stage at the Hult Center and the geeked-up crowd of 2,500 chanted “Conan! Conan!” it was evident that this night—the first stop on the 32-city “Legally Prohibited From Being Funny On TV Tour”—would be a veritable love-in for the man called Coco. And the feeling was definitely mutual. “Oh, man—that feels so good!” O’Brien shouted above the hollers, adding: “I’m not supposed to admit this, ladies and gentlemen, but I’ve really missed the applause.”

Indeed, save for the occasional Twitter update, he’s been MIA since not-so-amicably parting ways with NBC in January. Here again, in front of an adoring audience, O’Brien, 46, seemed not bitter, but rather refreshed and raring to go. He offered a few pokes at his old employer, like when marveling about this stage show: “Believe it or not, this is the first time anyone’s ever paid to see me. They’ve paid to make me go away….” And he winked at the surprising news released earlier in the day that he’ll be launching a new talk show on TBS in November. “I’ve got a new job… I’m the new assistant manager at the Eugene Banana Republic. I’ll be in the corduroy section.” (Later, clad in an Eddie Murphy-esque ’80s leather outfit and performing his absurd half-finished song “The Girl Who Looks like Conrad Bain,” he chuckled, “You know people at TBS are watching, [saying] ‘What the hell?’”)

Billed as “a night of music, comedy, hugging, and the occasional awkward silence,” the show delivered all of that, minus the awkward silence. (Would’ve traded some of the music for more comedy—though O’Brien was clearly having a blast with his guitar, backed by a version of the Max Weinberg 7 minus Max Weinberg.) There were humorous video bits (such as O’Brien’s how-I-spent-my-unemployment opener; let’s just say a dog and peanut butter are involved). There were appearances by old friends (sidekick-turned-announcer Andy Richter helped anchor the festivities, while Triumph the Insult Comic Dog delighted on video with a gag involving poorly dubbed audio). There were celebrity guests (30 Rock’s Jack McBrayer, Spoon), and a stand-up spotlight (Tonight Show writer Deon Cole). In a nod to intellectual property law concerns, one Late Night character received a makeover (the Masturbating Bear morphed into the Self-Pleasuring Panda) while another show staple got renamed (The Walker, Texas Ranger Lever—which triggers ridiculous clips from the CBS action drama—became the Chuck Norris Rural Policeman Handle, earning some of the night’s biggest laughs). But throughout the spectacle of silliness, there was genuine glee and gratitude. “The support that I got from people just like you has meant everything to me…” gushed O’Brien. “I’ll never forget it as long I live, and I just wanted to say that.” He then launched into an altered cover of Cake’s cover of Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive,” a song he said that “has had real meaning to me these last three and a half months.” Based on the emphatic embraces he received from the audience as he victory-lapped through the aisles during the encore, that seemed pretty darn accurate, if not an understatement.

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  • S.E.

    Just goes to show what a loser Conan is. Low ratings and he’s now going to cable to team up with another no talent, George Lopez. Deal with it, kids. Leno dominates O’Brien, Letterman and whomever the next loser of the week is you worship.

    • bringbackrocky

      Bitter much? Stop hating on Conan and go to your Tea Party rally.

      • Henri

        LOL! I heart you Rocky!!!

        Long Live Conan!

      • Jamie

        HEY BRINGBACKROCKY! I like Conan and support the Tea Party. Don’t assume or generalize you commie pinko dem!

      • Commie Pinko Dem

        lol, you amuse me

      • Kate

        Hahaha, don’t generalize, says the guy who then goes onto generalize. Delicious hypocrisy.

      • Blame Leno

        haha Kate Funny!!!

      • Chris

        I think he was making fun of the generalization, how’s about we stop the petty pol BS and appreciate our newly returned Coco!

      • Brian

        Kate, the “commie pinko” thing was a joke about generalization.

    • Goober

      S.E.,you are a tool.

      • Lay Jeno

        Jay Leno went out and did free live shows in areas hit hard by the economic downturn, Conan meanwhile goes out and charges $100 a ticket for his live show. Hmm, yeah, that Leno is a real jerk!

      • LM

        Leno is a real jerk, those people have been through enough without Leno making it worse with his “hey, look at my chin, it’s so big” crapola. I don’t care if I was a skid row bum, I wouldn’t cross the street to watch Leno.

      • eck

        Um, Conan didn’t charge $100. I wouldn’t have gone, otherwise. Plus, this was the first time Conan ever performed for money (as quoted above). Leno performs all the time in Vegas, stating that he actually lives off that money and not the money from The Tonight Show. So who is the greedy person here?

      • NT

        The money isn’t going to Conan, fool! It’s going to his road crew and staff who were unemployed and had no income. CONAN ON TBS FTW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • Steve

        @Lay Jeno — I saw Jay Leno when he played the RIVERROCK SHOW THEATRE in Richmond, BC, Canada on January 9, 2010 and paid approximately $156 per ticket plus service charges to see his 7:30pm show in row H. Paid another $136.13 per ticket plus service charges to sit in row S at his 10pm show the same night.

    • Alegna

      It shows’s what kind of a loser you are that you are posting on an article about Conan. I would never waste my time reading anything about the Chin. Viva Conando!

      • Hannah

        Word.

      • Louise

        Double Word!

    • DC

      oh yeh Jay is a talent, are you 60 years old and your grand kids help get you on line … LOL

      • Adele

        DC,
        I’m a 60 year old woman who has been a Conan fan since his early beginnings on NBC. I’ve never cared for Jay so puh-leeeez don’t lump me into a stereotype by age-range.
        You’re not the first commenter to just assume that because we’re not young that we HAVE to be a Jay fan.
        That’s okay…

      • Brian

        If Adele is, in fact, real, then I <3 Adele.

    • Hernan Giaggio

      I’ve forgotten why Leno was moved back to 11:30. Can anyone help me? It wasn’t LOW RATINGS was it? No, I remember. It was EXTREMELY LOW RATINGS. It was the cheapest 10PM show ever produced and yet…canceled.

    • Tom

      Dude you’re a loser Conan rocks Leno has crap jokes and steals bits from other talented people like letterman and stern you just like Leno because his jokes are the only ones your old dumbass can understand

      • tori

        Amen. Conan = best in late night.

    • jessica

      oh shut up!

    • Chris

      There is no validity to this comment.

    • ryan

      yeah your right old people out number young people still, and that is what they have pre programed at old folks homes( I am talking about leno of course). But once all you old people finally die off or they make euthanasia mandatoary finally then everyone else (minus some females)will be happy with our coco. I hate all you EW posters who come on here week after week dissing everything form Avatar to this.

      • Dede

        Hey! Females love Conan. I should know I happen to be one.

      • Adele

        Once again, I told DC and now you…

        I’m a 60 yr. old long-standing Conan fan.

        I joined the “I’m with Coco” group and have a more sophisticated taste in comedy than you would think, perhaps.

        Peace out.

      • IMWITHCOCO

        Dude, it’s pretty cool that you like COCO but ignorant people like you come off sounding like fools and give a bad name to not only young people but Conan fans as well. Adele, Respect. That is all.

    • LOL

      S.E. self pleasures to photos of Sarah Palin.

    • Em

      Roffles. Leno’s chin dominated, but his talent for telling lame jokes badly far outshines that huge thing, don’t it?? LOL Idiot.

  • TacoTaco

    Yeah, screw people for liking what they like. We should all sit back with a Jay Leno turd sundae and be grateful that such a mediocre force of lukewarm comedy exists to put us to sleep every night.

    • Conando

      Just had a great idea, I should set my TIVO to turn on Leno in the morning..that would get me out of my bedroom in a hurry

  • John2

    will his stand up gig be on dvd anytime?

  • Team Lolo

    Conan showed us he is nothing more than a hypocrite. He comes to TBS and the first thing he does is steals Lopez’s time slot and forces Lopez to go on at the ungodly hour of midnight.

    • Swarley

      If you knew how to read, you could have read the HUNDREDS of articles where Lopez says that it was his idea and that he had to convince Conan to do it.

      • EWsMom

        Wow, you must be one of those nasty teabaggers who watch Fox News and believes everything they hear or read.

        I guess one thing is for sure – Conan fans are extremely gullible and don’t like to actually use their brains and THINK
        (which also might explain why they enjoyed Conan’s “humor” so much)

      • @EWsMom

        Man, I must have wasted my four year liberal arts degree because I was a Conan fan. Oh well. Since I’m an idiot, I might as well hang around the EW.com site and reply to everyone who disagrees with me. Then I’ll have purpose! Thanks for showing me the way, douchebag!

      • Nicole

        @EWsMom I can’t believe I’m even indulging your comment, but what can you do? My four years of university and three years of law school were a true hardship considering my lack of ability to think. But anyhow, here’s your boy Lopez on the Conan situation, on his own show:

        “I want to say this — I want to say that I am completely, 100 percent on board with this move,” Lopez said during his monologue. “I talked to Conan on Wednesday and I talked to him last night, and I said I welcome you into my deep, loving embrace.”

        From what I understand, GL’s ratings aren’t fantastic, and Conan’s lead-in will probably help. Plus, GL has the youngest demographic of all the late-night hosts, so his audience is more likely to be watching tv at midnight anyway. I think he can only benefit from this. As for the teabagger comment? Shows your ignorance – I’m pretty sure those people are all squarely on Team Leno.

      • Skip182

        Guys, just let it go. If you’re on these boards much, you’d know that EWsMom is a troll who goes on boards and says the exact opposite of what everyone else says just to get a respone. Just ignore it.

    • Dan

      That’s absurd. Conan didn’t steal Lopez’s spot, it was given to him by TBS, just as Jay didn’t steal Conan’s spot, it was given to him by NBC. Moreover, Lopez is already riding the media wave on this, lauding Conan and his choice to come to TBS. And to be honest, I think any cable host would love to have a lead-in as established as Conan.

      • Mary Q. Contrary

        I agree, I don’t think Lopez is just saying it. I think he’s genuinely okay with Conan as his lead-in. He’ll get a whole lot more viewers than he has now, that’s for sure.

    • EWsMom

      Yeah no kidding.
      All the moronic CoCo fans are saying “oh, oh, but Lopez called Conan and said it was fine!”

      Well no DUH – do you think George Lopez wanted to be the SOLE roadblock to TBS not landing Conan O’Brien? Seriously?

      Man, Conan fans have proven over and over again at how idiotic and gullible they really are.

      • Pam Beesly

        Ahh nothing warms my heart early in the morning like sweeping, unfounded generalizations. Thanks, EWsMom!

      • Miguel

        So your answer to Conan originally rejecting the TBS offer because they didn’t want to shove aside George Lopez is…. What? Cynicism?

      • CultofHeather

        Obviously you just dislike Conan given your ignorant blasts. But okay…Let’s be cynical a moment and think business. From a public relations standpoint, it would be a nightmare for Conan to do to George Lopez what was done to him. Period. He would LOSE his following (consumers). By all indications, George was FOR this move because he will BENEFIT FROM IT. TBS wants to be known as a comedy channel. It needs someone like Conan (who is good for their targeted demographic). The more viewers who tune in to see Conan, the better for TBS and George. Win-win-win all the way around.

      • CMU

        I’m glad you’re an insider and can set us all straight on what REALLY happened, EWsMom. You’re so pathetic. Truly. Do you do nothing but sit on ew.com and bitterly comment on things, hoping to validate your worthless life? I’m so sick of seeing comments by you. I pity the people in your life, assuming there are any. My guess is your only human contact is the kid who delivers groceries each week to your house, and your only companionship is your 12 cats, all of whom are named Jay. Get a life. Go outside. Stop being bitter.

      • Shotgunsamurai42

        Wow you must be a democrat to be so bitter. See, pointless political statements can go both ways EWsMom

      • FLocke

        i’m pretty sure EwsMom is some college guy stirring the pot because…people aren’t actually this dumb…right?

      • Will S

        @EWs Mom Why am I not surprised to find you trolling here? :\

      • EWsMom

        Well everyone, I apologize – I didn’t mean to rile you all up THAT much…I’m very outspoken, shoot-from-the-hip in real life…so I kinda do the same online.

        Sorry again.

      • levelheaded

        @EWsMom – so people have responded to the fact that George Lopez has more to benefit from this exchange that Conan did with the Tonight Show crap.

        But I also want to point out this: Why are you comparing the George Lopez show and The Tonight Show?

        The Tonight Show has been on in a specific time slot for DECADES. The George Lopez show, not so much.

        I don’t hate Leno, or Conan, I just think if you’re going to defend someone, at least do a good job of it.

      • Brian

        EWsMom had no friends in high school.

    • Mel

      Actually when TBS offered this slot to conan he turned it down for that reason, and George Lopez called him and talked him into it.

      • Lay Jeno

        I’m sure Lopez felt no pressure at all to make that call either.

      • Brian

        Hey, remember that one time Lay Jeno said “No gracias, amigo” in a comment? Man, that was HILARE.

    • allie08

      Lopez personally called him last week and asked him to be his lead-in. Read much?

    • Brian

      WRONG

    • Brian

      Team Lolo’s a real ignorant downer.

  • Matt

    watch a video clip from last night’s live Conan show:

    http://bit.ly/bT03EQ

  • Tim

    Leno still sucks. That’s why his band leader is leaving him. Tired of getting dragged around and this time Kevin knows Leno is on his way out for sure so he’s getting out early.

  • LIGrrl

    Dan! Loves me some Coco, but please get back to your main focus, which should be LOST! (At last for a few more weeks…)

  • Josh

    I like how the Jay fans seem to think that Conan fans are dumb stoners, but the demographic analysis of his ratings on NBC showed that Conan’s audience, albeit smaller, was more educated and had a higher median income. It’s kind of the same deal with The Daily Show. People who don’t understand something deem it “stupid” merely because they can’t understand it.

    • Kate

      hear hear!

  • kb

    I watch Fox news, am a republican but think Leno is a snooze. I love Conan. Don’t stereotype people. Everyone over 40 isn’t into boring shows!!

    • Kate

      Thank you! How does a late night feud become politicized? Jeebus people, just because you disagree on entertainment (which is completely preferential; some people find the Wire a snooze, I can’t handle Criminal Minds – there is no right opinion) doesn’t mean you’re pitted against each other in every way!

    • Maiv

      True! I hate it when people randomly bring in politics to this. Glad that Conan’s back and can’t wait to see him in SJ!

  • michelle

    what in the world does someone’s political views have to do with this? And to say a person who agrees with the tea party philosophy is a leno fan. That’s not a sweeping generalization?
    I voted for obama, suppport the tea party b/c I don’t want the deficit to get any bigger and I despise Jay Leno’s show!! I’m also college educated and I really try not to judge others based on one aspect of their existence. This thread deteriorated quickly!

    • Josh

      People like to vilify those who don’t agree with them. “If somebody doesn’t like what I like, they must be for everything I am against.” It’s easier for humans to cope with things and hold onto their world view.

    • Tom

      Thanks for posting that michelle. I couldn’t have said it better myself.

    • levelheaded

      I like you Michelle, you sound like a rational human being who can think for themselves.

      And just so you know, I don’t support the Tea Party (but refuse to call them teabaggers, because I’m not 13). I’m neither Democrat or Republican, but I did vote for Obama and I’ve watched both Leno and Conan.

      Look! I can agree to disagree!

  • Boutrous

    Who does Conan pay to be everywhere in the entertainment media? That person is good at their job. I am so sick of seeing Conan’s ugly pale untalented face on EW and other entertaiment media. Can we talk about someone who’s actually talented now?

    • GOB

      I didn’t realize you were being forced to read every single story on EW. I’m sorry that is the case.

    • ani

      ok…go read that great article about kevin eubanks ditching leno’s tired show.

  • Janizzle

    I can’t wait for this show…May 30!! So excited with all the Conan news :D

  • Jeff

    let’s just clear it up. jay leno said he wouldn’t take 11:35 back, if conan wasn’t okay with going back to 12:05. conan wasn’t okay and leno still took back 11:35. lopez is up for moving to midnight to get a boast off of conan’s potential audience. they are two different situations but still show that leno is a snake.

    • Team Lolo

      The only snake is Conan. Just ask Lopez.

      • Brian

        Oh, please. Stop trying to manufacture controversey where there is none. You;d have to be ignorant to think George Lopez is miffed. My guess was his ratings on the Monday of the announcement were higher than any night in the few months his talk show’s been on the air. And by the way, re: “Team Lolo,” Lopez has already coined the term Team LoCo. Shouldn’t you be posting under that name? Or is it that you’re too informed to appear informed?

  • cameobrooch

    Forget about Conan and Leno and switch over to Letterman and Ferguson.

    • FLocke

      I think I just watched Letterman for too long but I don’t find him funny anymore…Ferguson on the other hand is my favorite

      • ani

        FLocke?? what are you doing posting on EW?! you’re supposed to be trying to escape an island and killing a bunch of people in the process. You better be back where you belong by tonight, 8 pm. thanks!

  • Brigette

    YAY! I’m seeing Conan in Chigaco, can’t wait!!! And why are there so many Conan haters posting on this? Must be paid by Leno’s people…

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