Second night of 'Conan': Enough with the TBS jokes already

conan-tom-hanksImage Credit: Meghan Sinclair/Conaco LLCIt was nice, Tuesday night, to see Conan O’Brien — and his beard — back on the air for a second night in a row, the signal that he’s returned to late-night for the long haul. What I’m looking forward to even more, though, is a time when he dispenses with the self-referential humor about losing his NBC gig and coming to basic cable. I get that he needs to address it at the beginning — it was a huge news story, and there is certainly humor to be found in it — and I know that late-night hosts honor a long tradition of sticking it to their home networks, no matter which one they’re on. But the lengthy, dead-weight bit wherein he visited the Standards and Practices guy — which seemed like it was going to be so much fun when he introduced it by saying he wanted to find out what he can get away with on the air — made me wish he’d just move on.

To wit, things perked up when he addressed more topical humor. The jokes weren’t mind-blowing (on Apple’s new store in China: “Apple says this is an exciting opportunity to sell iPods to the very kids who make them”), but it was a refreshing change to see Conan back in regularly scheduled action. As my colleague Ken Tucker noted of Conan’s debut episode Monday night, he seems best, at this point, when he moves past the NBC debacle and its aftermath. For the record, though, Tom Hanks did score the best line of the night when he addressed Conan’s ouster. After Conan accused Hanks of perpetuating his now widely used nickname, “Coco,” Hanks quipped, “Finally, he’ll blame something on someone other than Jay.”

Hanks was also, incidentally, quite the sport while getting drenched with real water from a fake whale’s splash:

All in all, still great to see Conan back, and the show was at least as good a time as any late-night show with a long and vaunted history. It’ll get even better once he settles into his new digs and forgets about that whole “basic cable” distinction. What did you think of Conan’s second show, PopWatchers?

Read more:
Second night of ‘Conan’
How did Conan fare on opening night?

Comments (185 total) Add your comment
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  • Rolo Tomasi

    Yeah, enough with the TBS jokes, do something new and original, like funny newspapers clippings, that never gets old

    • Lay Jeno

      You’re absolutely correct. Headlines cracks me up every time.

      • JJ

        The same tired jokes from Conan. If you want real comedy, watch Jon Stewart. If you want stale jokes from 9 months ago, watch Conan.

    • Kurt

      So, do headlines. You address the need to be “original” and then suggest a comedy bit you see on another show…..yeah

      • Sue1

        Sarcasm, Kurt.

      • Joe

        Andy Ricter totally RUINS the show…

      • Matt

        Andy Richter is the second best part of the show, next to Coco himself.

      • Ian

        WOW, Kurt may be as unable to detect sarcasm as Sheldon Cooper, and that’s saying a lot. No doubt a Leno fan with that sort of wit…

      • Sean

        Give Kurt a break (he may only be 12 years old).

      • Frei

        lol @ Ian

      • WatchesEverything


    • Aron

      Jennifer Armstrong apparently has now idea what quality comedy is. She should go back to watching Leno and writing raves about him.

      • LOL

        The bit visiting the Standards and Practices guy had almost nothing to do with being on TBS or NBC. It was an excuse to make euphimisms…and a funny one at that. This review was just about worthless.

      • rich

        agreed….why does it seem like ew is always giving conan back handed compliments, why dont you guys continue to do what you love, like write another million stories on GLEE….beacuse thats not getting old.

      • PiratesDaughter

        Seriously. Jennifer why don’t you give it a rest? OMG he joked about it on his SECOND show? WTF? That mofo is obviously unable to do comedy without mentioning it. I mean really. On his second night? That is just NUTS.

      • emmy

        without getting mean towards Jennifer, i disagree. i thought the S&Ps segment was really funny, even sending emails about “bananimals” and “bananas” to my friends.

        Letterman still jokes about NBC passing on him; i don’t see why anyone is bothered by Conan joking about TBS. Every guest wants to crack wise about it. People still laugh at it. You may not have noticed, but Conan’s show edited out the parts of the Taiwanese animation where Jeff Zucker and Jay Leno were negatively portrayed. I think that shows he is not intent on playing up past nastiness.

      • angeler

        totally agree here, I didn’t agree with this review at all- I was dying during the S&P bit. “Tokyo Sandblaster”! It was laugh-out-loud funny, classic Conan. Love that he’s back.

      • Denny

        The S&P bit was hilarious, I don’t know what you saw Jennifer. Also I don’t mind him beating up on NBC a bit at the beginning, and yeah … two shows and you’re making longterm comments???

      • KC

        Jennifer Armstrong? The title of the article itself shows the stupidity – 2ND DAY and enough with the TBS jokes? 2nd day?

    • Arby

      What is this “newspaper” you speak of??

      By the way, I don’t get this whole “Basic Cable” angle. ABC, NBC amd CBS are also “basic cable” channels.

      • sd

        they’re technically network channels. Before the move to digital you could have no cable and get those channels with an antennae. No longer being a poor college student i don’t know if that is still the case after the move to digital though.

      • Jenn

        SD, it’s still true. ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX are available for free to everyone over the air. And in HD no less!

      • Ian

        Networks and basic cable are 2 different things Arby.

    • MrFurley

      Yes, & those HILARIOUS wedding annnoucments ALWAYS crack me up!!

    • Sam

      I’m ready for him to let go of the basic cable jokes, if only because to younger people like myself, basic cable doesn’t carry the stigma that it does for older generations. To us, it’s the home of quality programming like Mad Men, Damages, and more.

      Still — I’m just glad to see Conan back on the air. Team Coco!

  • Atlas Fornifoofaloo

    CoCo to the rescue. The beach is that way. Gun show. Big muscles.

  • cameobrooch

    It’s all Jay Leno’s fault! He has a big chin and his fans are old and stupid!

    • silk

      You are so intelligent. Have a smiley day.

  • Sydney

    Loved the interview with Tom Hanks last night. I remember his interview on Conan’s second Tonight Show episode and was looking forward to a fun interview. I was not disappointed! Long live Coco!

  • Still loco for coco

    I thought the standards and practices bit was totally hilarious! It reminded of Late Night! Honestly, that and conan leaning in to touch Jack McBrayer and being stopped and the wave splash bit were my favorite parts or last night.

  • matterlyb

    What??? No mention of Soundgarden’s thundering return to TV after a 13-year hiatus? Shame on you.

    • Kurt

      Good point.

    • Joe

      it’s old news, Conan didn’t have an exclusive, this was planned for quite some time

      • matterlyb

        That doesn’t take away from the fact that they sounded great and melted some faces both in the studio audience and at home! That’s one thing Conan’s show has always had over Leno: great musical guests.

    • Yak

      I’m a fan and I too thought it was worth mentioning because it was so horrible. Stayed up to watch them and it was unlistenable. Just my opinion, I’m sure some people enjoyed it but I turned it off after 2 mins.

      • angeler

        have to agree with Yak here a bit- I adore Soundgarden but I wasn’t digging Chris Cornell’s vocals. Might have been the sound editing but he sounded like he was about to burst a blood vessel. Yikes!

      • lara

        I think they were having sound troubles. at the beginning of the vocal you could see him making motions with him arm and he kept trying to make eye contact with someone off to the side.
        Tho I am from Seattle and naturally biased towards anything grunge related. :)

  • Krystal

    second episode WAS way better. Plucking out his beard hair for a fan is awesome. I love how he is addressing his audience a lot and the animated scene was HILARIOUS.

    • Laura

      …and those audience members possess the DNA of Conan O’Brien. I wonder if they’re planning on creating “Clonan”?

      • gustiq

        Laura, i love you. first time i laughed since last night’s Conan.

        on the article: it’s his second show, STFU! people who missed the first show may be wanting to hear those NBC/TBS jokes! and yeah, if Coco’s still delivering them next Monday, then start bitching.

      • BossGalaga

        If EW had a comment system worth anything, and I could “Like” your comment, I would have done so.

      • KC

        hehe where can I get me a Clonan?

    • Adela

      I absolutely agree! I cracked up so bad,especially when the vid where he went to see what he could get away with on TBS! Looove Conan!!!

    • Meier

      That animated scene WAS great! Loved Andy’s notice of them drinking beer and spewing a gold mist that makes money.

  • Get A Q

    It’s only been two episodes…Give Conan a break!

    • Nerd

      Agreed! I can’t wait until the coverage about all of Conan’s jokes stops. None of these critics will still be watching in six months.

      • Jonathan

        My thoughts exactly… give it a week at least lady… jeez

      • Mike

        Seriously! Let the guy get settled in first. It’s the SECOND show.

  • Brian

    TBS jokes are great. No one really watches TBS and everyone is sick of their incessant promos (house of payne and meet the browns…ugh).

    Conan is at his best when he takes himself down a notch. He did this well when he was on at 12:35 and basically said “anything goes” when its that late at night (see masturbating bear and vomiting kermit. I think he should continue to make light of the basic cable situation in the same manner

  • Birdman73

    I thought he was funnier Tuesday night than Monday. You say that he needs to get the jokes about the NBC-to-TBS switch out “in the beginning” … he’s only on his second show … give him the week to get it out of his system!
    The standards and practices bit was a hoot … I was waiting for him to come out in the ass-less leather pants. And Tom Hanks was funny and a great sport.
    I love you EW writers, but you all need to loosen up … think you both need to “take Grandma to Applebee’s”, if you know what I mean.

  • Ned

    You’re absolutely wrong about the Standards and Practices bit. “Taking Grandma to Applebees” will be taking America by storm.

    • LM

      Agreed. I thought the Standards and Practices bit was really funny. And no mention of the awesomely random and bizarre moment when Conan plucked out some of his beard for an audience member?? The show has been much better than EW is giving it credit for.

    • Clay

      I’m still laughing at that one. I thought it was great, the sheer uncomfortable-ness of the S&P guy was worth it.

    • Hom Tanks

      I also agree that this was a great skit! I’m still laughing at the “Ole Tokyo Sandblaster” this morning! And once again kudos to the always awesome Tom Hanks for bringing the Coco show a “sample of his power”… lol!

    • Michael

      Also agreed, you know I had to rush to google to see if the Tokyo Sandblaster was a real thing — imagine my dismay when discovering it is, in fact, not a thing.

      • D

        I think it’s when you poop in somebody’s mouth and make them spit it all over you as hard as they can.

    • Emily

      I also thought it was funny. And after watching Studio 60 last week – I thought it was poking more fun at NBC than it was at TBS.

    • RK

      Have you ever done the Tokyo Sandblaster?

  • Glennnnn

    Please Letterman made NBC/GE jokes every night for better part of a decade.

    • KC

      Thank you! Yes. This writer needs to buy a clue.

  • annonymous

    You seem a little repetive. You’re a little transparant with your Conan dislike. I think it is a breath of fresh air. That is why Conan and Jimmy Fallon get my late night votes. I am not my parents.

  • Lyn

    I actually thought the skit with the “Standards” guy had its moments, though it went on too long. What I don’t get is that, with all the crazy stuff going on in the world, Conan chooses to harp repeatedly on what a comedown it is for him to be stuck on TBS/basic cable. Without TBS, wouldn’t he be just another out-of-work billionaire?

    • Jen

      I think people take it out of context. Does Leno not slam NBC for its ratings? Letterman does the same for CBS. Its easier to joke within “the family” People are just over analysing Conan cause of what happened.

  • Gre

    Last night was vintage late-night Conan. I really like how the show feels smaller and off-the-cuff, rather than the large over-production of Tonight. Conan’s appeal was always “what-the-hell-am-I-doing-with-my-own-talk-show”? Being on TBS will allow him to carve out the niche he was alway more comfortable with. I don’t think his numbers will be huge — they may even end up lower than his numbers on Tonight — but they’ll be big enough for TBS to keep him on for a long while. And that’s fine with me.

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