I admire this article for 2 main reasons. Firstly it is one of the most accurate descriptions of Conan, Andy and their current situations. Secondly it resonates to a very saddening but explicit truth about the late night business that can literally be comprised in to some form of an equation and/or formula because of it’s application to all of the comics.
If we were to put aside any Darwinian idiosyncrasies that we possess and analyse what the man has achieved, I’d recon he’s done his Harvard degree proud; financially, socially and with any other aspect that comes to mind. But the fact of matter which he and his writers fail to come in equilibrium with is that he is, in the eyes of the public, a redundant comic. With the so called “comedy” of ‘comics’ like Jimmy Fallon, the World looks forward to that children’s party rather than a comic who is classical and whimsical. But again it’s an interesting situation, do you blame Conan for being redundant or do you blame the viewers of America for passing along a vague comical sketch up as “the guy to watch”. It’s a question that doesn’t have an answer to and it is something that sadly cannot be solved with simple ease because like the Government and The Economy, the Television industry is a complex matrix with multiple permutations and combinations. People are entitled to their own likes and dislikes and hence you’re lost in it.
Perhaps a comparative analysis between Conan and ex talk show hosts will clear the mist.
Talk about the Great David Letterman, Arguably the only man who was even remotely close enough to Carson and his greats, got a fitting denouma to the 35 year journey and arguably retired as a legend. But does that mean that he was still THE most popular guy and the person who everyone admired for all 35 of those years? I’m afraid not. There came a point where Letterman himself joked about becoming redundant and pointless in his role but that was obviously dissolved of as comedy. The underlying truth in that was that Letterman was slowly dying off. He was no longer the juggernaut that he used to be and while still being funny and catchy, he had lost his ability to capture the market and lost out to Kimmel and Fallon. So despite of retiring as one of the most funny men ever by all definitions, he was in clear sight a redundant comic. And this of course comes with all due respect to the man and what he has achieved.
Let’s zoom out a bit and look at the career of Jack Paar, many won’t know who the man even is because of the time gap involved but for the sake of argument it is worth noting that he ran the Tonight Show for a favourable period of time relative to the conditions in those days. Jack Paar unfortunately faced the same doom as Letterman except in a more compressed time frame and in a more sadistic manner. He too became irrelevant as he still ran WWII jokes in the late 50’s and frankly everyone had moved on to more important points of agenda. Does that mean he wasn’t funny? Not at all. He was producing cheeky humour that would arouse an intellectual but sadly that didn’t work with the conditions provided. And Again with all due respect, he was an amazing talent who got rubbed under and didn’t deserve an ending to his worth.
So after reading all that you would question, What the hell does this have to do with Conan? Well if you have stuck around long enough to embark on the journey of the 2 legends, you will notice that Conan is uniform with them, he is headed in the same path as them and is probably aware of it too. And here’s the worse part; THERE’S NOTHING HE CAN DO ABOUT IT! As much as he would love to connect with the youth and generate non discriminative comedy to all viewers, he simply can’t do anything about it. He’s developed himself over the quarter of the century and made a style of comedy that resonates with him. He can’t just let it go like Elsa from Frozen. It’s what defines him and defines his legendary legacy. He can’t stoop to cheap bits to generate a laugh like the others but will have to continue being his comic self. There’s no doubt that eventually he’ll lose his audience and it will be him and Andy having light giggles on their own but so be it! It’s almost as if this rhetoric of ending is Hollywood’s payback for providing a platform. Every comic has their day and their opportunities and without a catalyst like this, they wouldn’t be even be a drop in the ocean. This phenomenon is comparable to a product life cycle, Conan sits on the middle of Maturity and Saturation while being in sight of a gradual decline. Will he get an electrifying send off? I can guarantee that. The public of the world will tune in one last time to look at their cheeky little friend who started off as “Chip Whitley” and is going down as an amalgamation of every sporting legend.
To summarise in a favourable manner to Conan which is not to be cynical, Conan has had a great run and he’s still having one. If he could only use the laws and discoveries of Hawking and transport himself into a parallel universe where his comedy is appreciated and saluted would he gain the infinite epitome of his career. Unfortunately in this universe, his peak amplitude has already died out and therefore as of now he is no longer the guy to watch. Does that mean he’s not funny? No ladies and gentleman, no. He is funny and it is something that deserves respect. But the point of the matter is that Conan entered this cycle of fame and now will exit it the way you’re supposed to. Till then enjoy the man, like him or not, you have to admit he isn’t a hypothetical Chip Whitley, he is his own genre. He is Conan O’Brien.