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Jesse's Occasional Thing Review: The Legally Prohibited From Being Funny On Television Tour
jess_teh_skox
So, like, I saw Conan O'Brien live last night. And stuff.

Yes, somehow I managed to go weeks without mentioning this impending event here, and I really don't know how. Blame it on the despair, I guess, which I think I'm recovering from, which is great.

But anyway! Conan! He's legally prohibited from being funny on television and, as such, has gone on tour, and I was able to witness one night of this, for the low low price of $35! And it was worth every penny, and would've been worth several more pennies, too!

Granted, the night didn't get off to the best start, as Conan's opening act was a man named Reggie Watts, who is not funny, at all. Whatever interestingness his basic setup might have - constructing a one-man rhythm section by gradually layering a capella loops recorded live is sort of a cool idea, from a musical standpoint - was completely nullified by his actual material. Watts is a man who thinks the words "shit" and "fuck" are inherently funny, and essentially uses them as the entire setup, and punchline, of each alleged joke. And shit.

Conan, however, was excellent. Simply due to the nature of this tour vs. a nightly television show - i.e. the audience is different each night, so sketches have time to be honed via repeated use, as opposed to television where each new show has to be, well, "new" - most of the bits were pretty well-polished by this point. And, yes, it might lose a little bit of that awkward barely-held-together charm O'Brien has on television (that I do miss, but will get ample doses of come November), this format definitely works better for something I'm expected to pay for. The assorted musical numbers - including topically relyricked renditions of "On the Road Again" and "I Will Survive" - probably benefited the most from this, seeming noticeably more polished than the early versions I've viewed using the YouTube. (Luckily, I didn't spoil all the musical festivities - the delightfully odd "half-complete" ballad, "The Girl Who Looks Like Conrad Bain", was at the very least new to me.)

Not all the musicality was good, though, as the special guest du jour was "Michigan's own" Kid Rock, who is a moron. Most of the college audience ate up his performance - a ditty about Mr. Ritchie's hypothetical stint as President of the United States, wherein he mentioned the consumption of beer every couple sentences, as is his wont - but I wasn't particularly amused. For the reasons he intended, anyway, though in retrospect I find amusement in just how much he does not understand what the President can and cannot do. Like, um, wholesale firing Congress. Maybe President Barack Obama isn't that bad...

Did you know? Andy Richter is capable of doing more than starring in mediocre, quickly canned sitcoms and, as career-related desperation sets in, resorting to be the guest murderer of the week on Monk. He's also capable of reading off a series of one-liners, making only a couple of mistakes! :D Of course, I kid the Richter, who is a definitely underrated personality, and pretty much the best sidekick Conan could ask for. I loved the banter, and was thrilled to see him even get to do a couple solo segments: a backhanded advertisement for some local bar, and the aforementioned series of goofy one-liners, "What I've Learned". ("Lions sleep for 20 hours a day....and no one divorces them.")

Other highlights include an intimate conversation with the audience, which is awkwardly forced to attempt to read off a teleprompter, in unison ("Kiss La Bamba!"); and shameless renaming of classic bits to get around this "intellectual property" nonsense. Introducing the Self-Pleasuring Panda and the Chuck Norris Rural Policeman Handle! Honestly, though, even segments featuring some of the worst elements of the Conan canon - Triumph the Insult-Comic Dog and Tonight Show writer Deon Cole - were somehow made amusing here, which is baffling, but in a nice way.

Am I forgetting anything amusing, Jim? It is late, after all.

But, yes. A fantastic show, totally worth the money, and perfectly timed, for an occasion when I clearly need to laugh the anxiety away. Certainly more exciting than, say, motorcycle lessons, or urine-related diaper hijinx. :)

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I think you covered all the bases. Conan is just so.... awesome. I loved every second of it (with the exception of Reggie Watts, Kid Rock, and part of Deon Cole's act). I'm suprised I laughed more at the Walker Tex-- err... Chuck Norris Rural Policeman Handle than anything else.

- Jim

huh?

(Anonymous)
It seems you don't have a very open sense of humor or a capability to understand abstract absurdist humor. Deon Cole, while not THE funniest man in the universe certainly had me laughing with his brand of racial based meta-comedy and creative word play. As for Reggie Watts, he was one of the most entertaining and original aspects of the show! I've seen his videos for quite sometime and was pleased to finally experience him live. His use of Fuck and Shit are obviously used sarcastically to bate the audience into thinking that those are legitimate punchlines. I think you heard the swearing and gave up on him immediately. He is an absurdist improvisor who's content and expression seem unlimited. Conan explains why he chose him in his google interview a few weeks back and you can tell how excited his is to have him on tour. I think Conan has great taste and wouldn't book Deon or Reggie unless he thought they were very funny/entertaining people. Maybe you just like simple by the book comedy? If so you are missing a whole beautiful world of humor.

Go Conan,
Yours,
Luci

I said I found Deon amusing. He was weak on Conan's Tonight Show (mostly because his segments were essentially carbon copies of each other), but was pretty good here, at least in the second half of the act when he started to break out material I hadn't seen before. You really can't ever go wrong with audience participation, really.

And if by "immediately", you mean "halfway through his final song", yes. If I don't find one man to be funny, then automatically I'm a moron unable to understand an entire large class of comedy? How hilariously pretentious.

Re: huh?

(Anonymous)
Not pretentious, a challenge to you.
If conan finds Reggie funny and is very happy with his choice as an opener, wouldn't it be worth a bit of research as to why?
I'm a big Conan fan that's all. I don't think you're a moron I'm just amazed by how you don't see this connection.

L

Being a Conan fan doesn't necessarily mean having to like everything that Conan likes. And if I'm expected to follow up the show with a shitton of research into why a brief opening act is funny, that just means he failed at what an opening act is supposed to do (i.e. find some way to hook an audience that, by definition, would be at least partly unfamiliar with his work, as they're paying for the main performer, not him), to me anyhow.

Re: huh?

(Anonymous)
I think you're in the minority. Almost all the reviews of the shows about the opener have been overwhelmingly positive. So I think he entertained the majority as he was supposed to do contrary to what you might think. From the New York Times, Time Out Australia-NY-London, LA Times, David Burn, Louis CK, Brian Eno, David Cross, UCB he seems to have fans. Again if you don't like him you don't.

L

Yes. Hence, "to me anyway". I realize I'm in the minority. I'm used to being in the minority! I voted for Ralph Fucking Nader in '08!

To me, there's a difference between good absurdist humour, and the aimless drivel that seems to dominate the interests of people my age, for whatever reason. And Reggie Watts just comes across as someone who tries to hide the shallowness of his material with the "oh, it's sarcastic/ironic/what-have-you" angle, as opposed to someone whose comedy actually is any of those things.

Do you really think you'll be changing my opinion? You won't, so let's just agree that Conan himself was great, at least.

Re: huh?

(Anonymous)
No I can't change your opinion. That's not what I am tring to do. I am just wondering; If so many brilliant minds find him so good at what he does and speak so highly of him, do you believe that all of these people are wrong? That these pioneering artists have no idea what they are talking about? 
Is there nothing in their opinion that warrents investigation? 
I detest Lady Gaga and yet I research were the fascination comes from and can at least concede that while she is definitely not my cup of tea I can respect how she got to be where she is. 
Many people disliked Andy Kaufman and Johnathon Winters, all of whom garnered reactions like yours, yet they helped push the boundries of the comedy we have grown accustomed to these days.
I find it important to examine all sides of a phenominon. 
I am personally fascinated in things that gain critical  acclaim that don't resonate with me or vice versa. This attempt gives me a clearer understanding of this complicated world.




Well, I mean, like I said, Watts does have an intriguing setup, from a musical standpoint. If not for his weak lyricism, I would've enjoyed the catchiness of some of his tunage. But then he starts singing, or rapping, or whatever he decides to do at that particular moment, and everything goes off the rails.

Let's take his final song from the evening, the supposedly popular "Fuck-Shit Stack". Are these words inherently funny on their own? No, of course, they are not. Let's take a closer look at the song. Oh, look at that, I suppose it could be a surreal, sarcastic parody of hyper-profane hip-hop! Okay, okay, that is....also not an original concept, not by a long shot. :/

It might be delivered in a tasty new format, but Reggie's comedy itself is beyond tired. Some people will enjoy this greatly nonetheless. I do not.

Re: huh?

(Anonymous)
Fair enough.

If you do get a chance to see his new live DVD in is entirety I would love to get your take since you would truly be unbiased. I love hearing objective opinions. Thanks for your honesty and willingness to have a sincere conversation.

L,
L

Re: huh?

(Anonymous)
I believe the phrases "humour is subjective" and "to each their own" come into play here. If Reggie Watts is actually comedically talented, that's fine. I, personally, didnt find him amusing. I agree with Jesse wholeheartedly regarding Deon Cole.

- Jim

Uh, who's Luci?

You better make sure you have cable, though. Conan will be on TBS.

Yeah, I know, Conan fucking deserves better than cable. He should have let FOX get him.

That got me thinking... what's going to happen to George Lopez's talk show? I mean, not that his show's decent or bad or anything since I haven't bothered to see, but doesn't TBS basically exist, you know, to give marginally talented people like him a break?

...Aww. Now I'm the only frequent "anonymous" poster. :(

- Jim

..."let FOX get him"? FOX ended up deciding they didn't even want him! Mostly because local affiliates are terrible, awful, selfish people who think we'd rather watch reruns of Frasier, but still...

George Lopez's talk show will simply be moved back by an hour. He will be the pathetic aging Latino Jimmy Fallon of basic cable. The Carson Daly of basic cable will be, I'm guessing, reruns of According to Jim or something.

(And Mr. Lopez already had his break, with his self-titled ABC sitcom. Judging by the episodes my mom used to make me sit through, it was primarily about how the teenage girls should be locked in a trunk and not let out until they're 30, and married, lest they go have the terrible sex, with guys.)

At least somebody will laugh at Fallon.

...by which you mean, Fallon himself?

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