Monday, May 25, 2009

Conan's Tonight Show

The New York Times Magazine on Sunday had a fantastic feature on Conan O'Brien's transition to replacing Jay Leno as host of The Tonight Show. Although I have not watched Letterman or Leno regularly for a long, long time, I am a much bigger fan of Letterman than Leno, who, though affable enough always struck me as anodyne and insipid.

Conan, meanwhile, has always been my favorite of the three. I was living in Boston (well, Somerville) in abject poverty when Conan's show debuted, and while I know that he is hit or miss with many people, I liked the show from the beginning, at least in part because he is willing to take risks that Leno never would and is a bit zanier than Letterman, whose ironic detachment occasionally feels slightly calculated even if it is a persona I like more than Leno's. I'll be rooting for O'Brien when he makes his debut next week, and will be wishing him well as the subtext -- Leno is not thrilled to be leaving the 11:30 slot -- plays out. I suspect that early on Leno's fans, who qualify as firmly middle-brow, will resent the new interloper, but hopefully Conan's audience will have time to bloom.

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