Actually, don’t get me wrong. I was a fan of Conan and was behind him all the way. But here’s the thing, I don’t watch Conan. I have very rarely actually watched an episode of Conan. Usually what happens is that someone tells me that something funny happened on Conan and I watch it via Youtube. People don’t realize that before Conan took over The Tonight Show, his show on a regular basis was losing in the ratings to Craig Ferguson.
I know what your thinking, who the fuck is Craig Ferguson? He’s the guy that played Drew’s Scottish Boss on the Drew Carey show. That’s right, for all his laurels, awards and history, Conan was losing to a dime a dozen standup hack. Because people that still watch TV on a regular basis are old and stuck in the past. Conan is funny, and some of his skits are great, but he’ll never attract a large following on TV because that’s not who follows him.
I’m still shocked that there were people surprised that Conan’s Tonight Show ratings tanked. We all know that Jay Leno is the biggest hack on the planet. But just a newsflash for you, the same people who found “The Jeff Dunham Show” funny watch Jay Leno at night. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the people who watch Leno don’t even get the jokes about current events or politics.
In the long run Conan was helped by the fact he went to TBS, because in 3 or 4 months people will forget he’s there and stop comparing his ratings to everyone else. TBS will be happy with whatever ratings he does manage to garner, because no one has cared about TBS since they lost WCW. Do people even know what the current theme of TBS is? I mean other then being another completely faceless entity owned by Time Warner? It’s actual tagline is TBS: We Know Drama.
If Ted Turner was dead, he’d be spinning in his grave. Back in the day TBS actually meant something. It was “The SuperStation”. Maybe at heart I’m still a kid who loves the Super Nintendo, but The SuperStation is so much of a better catch phase then “We Know Drama” I mean first off, the whole drama thing is dead anyway. No one watches Soap Operas anymore. That was considered the height of TV Drama back in the day. It’s gotten so bad for TV Drama that Soap Operas are now crowbarring in commercials. So really, Drama does nothing for you.
(Editor’s note: Before writing me, see note at bottom of post)
So in Conan, TBS gets a face, people talking about them for some time, and maybe even a fresh lease on life. But if they are expecting a runaway success like the show has been for the first week they are drinking the Kool Aid. People are even less likely to watch Conan on TBS then they were on NBC. Maybe in a way it’s not even Conan’s fault, but a saturation of media.
Back in the day when Carson did the Tonight Show, there wasn’t all these channels interviewing celebrities. If someone was on the Tonight Show it meant something. But now I’ve seen comics who will cram in their appearances on “American’s Funniest People” twenty years after the fact as though they are fresh and new on the scene. Being on TV is no longer important, and TV is so desperate for celebrities that it’s inventing them. Like I said, Conan has some wonderful skits, but the interviews bring the show down.
No celebrity worth their salt does sit down interviews without knowing the Questions ahead of time. Think of how few times a celebrity actually gets “ambushed” with real questions. The only time lately I can think of is when Paris Hilton was fresh out of jail, and she was offended that David Letterman wanted to talk about her jail time and not her new perfume. She’s not even a real celebrity anyway, where does she get off being offended that she is being asked a question which is obviously the reason she’s on the show.
When you have two interviews on your show, it usually means one of them is awful. This is especially true when one of them is a hot chick. Megan Fox could save 22 orphans from a towering inferno and yet she’d still give the least interesting interview on the planet. So you can only imagine how bad the interviews are when she only comes around to promote one of her horrible movies.
The problem might not be so much Conan, but of the unwillingness to change with the times. You don’t have to do two interviews a night. Do more sketches, or even better work guests into the sketches. Set yourself up so you can actually sell “Best Of” DVDs that people will laugh at five years down the road. Unfortunately TBS is not about to do any thinking outside of the box. Neither will Conan, who desperately wanted to take over the “Tonight Show” when it was obvious no good could come from it (well other then the 45 million NBC paid him to leave).
Conan is still setup in a situation to fail. He passed up bigger networks with more of a built in audience. By taking a deal with TBS, he seemingly didn’t use any of his weight to do anything creative or new. This would have been the perfect time and way to legitimately change late night television. Instead it’ll be more of the same old same old. Two long interviews that bore people to death and won’t be topical in six months. Sketches that are hilarious but always a little short. Someday someone will bring a new view to late night, but it won’t be Conan. In the end Conan will be remembered along with Chevy Chase, Joan Rivers and a list of other hosts who were funny for a moment.
Editor’s Note: I was written by a twitter follower (Thanks, you know who you are) who reminded me that TNT is “We Know Drama” and that TBS is “Very Funny”. It’s my mistake, but I think it works towards the point I’m making. “Very Funny” is a completely forgettable tagline. TBS actually started using it in 2004, but there’s nothing that strikes me as being Very Funny on TBS. I mean I could think of a dozen better ways to say that your channel is funny other then “Very Funny”