In this episode of the wayward escapades of my life I’ll tell you a little about going to see Conan O’Brien’s legally Prohibited from Being Funny on TV Tour at the Wang Theater on Friday night.
Lest you think I am over romanticizing the whole Conan vs. Leno spat let me tell you I’m not. Conan (hereinafter referred to as Coco) is funny and talented yes, but he is in the end a comedian who relies heavily on homophobic frat boy humor to get his laughs. Sure there is the odd absurdity that makes him remarkably more charming then that Leno character. Actually it is this absurdity that often shows the side of Coco that is dare I say lovable and silly. Can any of us forget Camel Toe Annie from the Late Show? Try as we might I don’t think its possible (Shudder).
Last nights event was a grand revue style show complete with all the song and dance you could handle. I had not put much thought into what to expect from the show. I had red a review from the New York City show and they weren’t the best. Not bad but not out of this world. So I had little to know expectations for the evening.
As it was the show was fabulous. I had forgotten that this show would be his hometown show. As such Coco put his all into treating his hometown to a very special night. Bounding out into the stage after rousing opening number Coco, wearing a Celtics jersey, was welcomed to a standing ovation of such enthusiasm as I have really only seen at the end of shows when people call for an encore.
The open monologue was hilarious and full of pokes and jabs at Boston (Sometimes when I get homesick I hire a big dude to put on a Bruins jacket to shove me and call me a queer). He mocked his freakishly long legs, sang a funny song about growing up upper-class in Brookline and how hard life was for his high powered attorney mom and doctor dad. He invited Andy Richter on stage as well as many other friends. That’s part of his charm to. Coco is loyal to his friends just like his fans are loyal to him. Part of the tour was also to keep some of his staff employed until a new TV show could be orchestrated. The Boston favorite The Drop Kick Murphy’s joined the stage for a song that got the crowd once again to its feet.
Coco spared no expense in making the night an event to remember. He, for no apparent reason included a giant inflatable bat into the set up – twice during the night. Once the bat would be fully inflated flames would be projected on the screen behind the stage. Oh brother it was amazing. Not sure whether to believe it but Coco said it was the same bat used in AC/DC’s bat out of hell tour. Ha! That would be awesome.
As I watched, laughing and clapping along with everyone else I was also a bit lost in thought. The show was so simple and so fun and the crowd so obviously loved Coco ( a crowd that Triumph the Insult Dog pointed out was quite white when he said “you usually have to go to a Dave Matthews concert to see so many white people”). How then did Coco become the comedian of the people? Because that is sort of what he is. Now this is where the danger of the over romanticizing comes in. So I’ll tread lightly. In the whole fight between Coco and NBC, Coco kept up an open and heartfelt dialog with his fans. He also was able to play the victim quite well. Also, his fan base is much more tuned into social networking then Leno and therefore able to write the story in the popular media much more easily.
All this to say, the show was not just great because it was well done, engaging, energetic and funny but because in addition to all those things the show had heart. People came show support for Coco. People came because they at some point developed a relationship with him via the conflict with NBC. A relationship that created loyalty.
This all seems silly and unnecessary. But the truth is we need people in the public eye that can grab our affections and create a sense of something to defend. Ok, I know there are lots of things we care about and that we defend but they don’t come complete with a variety show and a 32 city tour of hilarity. I do not mean to diminish those things we love and fight for, I just mean to say that it is nice to have some of those things be a bit frivolous at times.
This weekend is mostly dominated by paper writing, flyer designing and workshop planning. So the Friday night spectacle that was the Coco show was most welcome. Best moment? The moment when Coco, reviving a Late Show skit, played clips from Walker Texas Ranger. The final clip was of Walker and this kid played by Haley Joel Osment. Osment’s character looks up to another guy (who looked an awful lot like the Quaker Oatmeal spokesperson) and said “Mr. Walker told me I have AIDS”. A moment of stunned silence gave way to laughter. It was the height of absurdity. This is an actual honest to god clip from the deplorable yet hard not to watch show. Good grief.
And with that I’ll just say. Thanks Coco! for a great night of entertainment of the highest quality low brow humor.