When Conan O’Brien finally took the reigns of “The Tonight Show” this spring, many longtime fans couldn’t help but notice that he seemed uncomfortable toning down the gleefully unhinged humor that made his “Late Night” such a success. Gone were the joys of the Masturbating Bear and Vomiting Kermit the Frog and even his ritual “string dance.”
But I think Conan — and his writers — have finally grown into the new role. Several times this week, he’s had the sharpness and silliness of the old “Late Night” while managing to hold on to the more buttoned-up style “The Tonight Show” requires. Take, for example, the clip above: it’s the sort of juvenile, cheap laugh O’Brien excels at, but he lets the video do the work for him.
Naturally, this improvement won’t solve the present NBC ratings disaster caused by the Great Leno Plague, but it’s good to see one of the best hosts of late-night television grow into the show he inherited. More examples, including an excellent Sarah Palin clip, below:
Obviously, the credit for this masterfully edited segment featuring Sarah Palin’s appearance on “Oprah” goes to Conan’s creative team, but the success of a show is as dependent on its writers as it is the host’s charisma. Big points for this one.
Below is the second part of Jane Lynch’s appearance the other night. After she talks about working with Carol Burnett, Lynch talks about working with Andy Richter in the early ’90s, and it’s a delight to watch Conan revel in Andy’s embarrassment.
[top clip via The Live Feed]