Am I the only person on the planet who does not consider Conan O'Brien funny? I'm puzzled that so many people do. Various sources refer to O'Brien as a "comedic genius." Genius? Really? Rolling Stone Magazine recently did an article on him, sort of explaining why he is so popular with the college-age stoner crowd. And maybe that's it: Maybe I'm just too old and out of it to "get" his humor. I pride myself on keeping up with pop culture and stuff. And so it's kind of sad/tragic that I realize I'm on the wrong side of the generation gap. When did that happen??
O'Brien may be a great comedy writer (I'll admit that), but his on-air persona just does nothing for me. I don't find him funny at all and in fact, I find his interview skills particularly weak. Instead of genuinely listening to what the guest is saying, he always seems to be figuring out a way of turning whatever they say into some faux-self-deprecating joke. And everything is a joke to Conan O'Brien - a joke that he pretends to make at his own expense even though we know (wink-wink) he doesn't really mean it. It's as annoying as it is juvenile.
Thus although I shouldn't be, I am baffled by O'Brien's popularity (he reportedly has over a million Twitter subscribers), and all the hoopla surrounding his return to television - albeit as the host of a talk show on basic cable. I mean, TBS for cryin' out loud? What, TVLand didn't bite? He must be some kind of world-class attention-whore if he'd settle for the pittance TBS was able to cough up - which surely must pale beside what he used to make at NBC. He has said that he's not going to "reinvent the wheel" of late-night talk shows. How could he? It's been tried before - unsucessfully - by others, most notably Howard Stern. So we're not going to see anything different than what Jack Paar and Groucho Marx pioneered a thousand years ago. Wowee.
After NBC gave him the boot (and a $34 million severance check) and gave The Tonight Show back to Jay Leno, O'Brien was subject to a non-compete clause in his contract, which has now expired. Suffice to say, I won't be watching O'Brien's "triumphant" return to almost-late-night TV tomorrow night. Or the night after, for that matter.
You know, if it was me, if I was some unfunny, pretentious goofball and a major TV network just gave me $34 million to leave my job, I'd run away fast and you'd never hear from me again, ever.
Then again, I'm not a world-class attention-whore.