The One in Which I Go See Conan O’Brien and Eat too Much Candy

Me at the Wang Theater in my new dress

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.

On having many small bits of information roaming about in my head

This is  one of those ubiquitous unclassified posts. Each piece not being large enough to fill a full post. Ok, actually I can turn any random thought into a full and verbose blog post. But in the interest of time management and getting the most bang for my buck here I present the ideas of my week in one post. Go!

1. I’ve decided to stop hating on school. Yes, it is a drag on my social and creative time. And yes, I find myself at odds with my classmates. Also, I struggle to integrate into a profession. But I enjoy learning. I am successful thus far at schooling and I have learned a great deal of new and interesting things. Ultimately though, I’ve entered into this endeavor after so much thought and preparation that I must rise to the occasion and own it.

Thusly I have decided to set the goal for myself of being one of the students at my graduation that will give a commencement address. Why? For starters, I’ve got some shit I want to say and I think I can say it well. Secondly I’d love for the chance to talk to my fellow students in mass and to say a few things about the dangers of professionalization. Basically I’d like to start of my career as a social worker by alienating the profession from the get go. So here I go, I’m diving in and making myself known and If I don’t get to speak at graduation…well lacking in permission to speak at assemblies of large people hasn’t really ever stopped me before.

2. For the second year in a row I hitched up my little bike cart and trundled out to Alendale Farm to buy flowers for the garden. A bundle of money later I was ridding home with a bouncing cart full of a beautiful assortment of flowers.

I got to spend a day on my own (something I used to do all the time, but now rarely experience) digging about in dirt and potting flowers. Now the house looks lovely with an assortment of flower pots over flowing with color. To top of the day just as I finished, the clouds moved in and a small but refreshing rain storm passed through taking care of the watering for me. So I took a nap.

3. Oh boy! The US Social Forum is almost upon us! I’m working on two workshops this time around. One is on the role of sci-fi and fantasy fiction in inspiring social change work. It is going to be wonderful and very interactive. In small groups, folks will be able to write short stories based on the collective work of the group.

The second workshop is a basic how to do legal support work for actions big and small. I’ll be collaborating with the Midnight Special Law Collective, which is always a joy.

Over all I’m very excited to be heading to the Forum. But I’m also nervous. I’m such a nervous ninny when it comes interacting in large social settings. I get overly anxious as many of you know. So while I’m excited and can’t wait to see everyone, I’m also fighting the urge to hide like a turtle in its shell.

4. The other day I had the great pleasure of helping a friend who is equally as afraid of flying as me to fly from Boston to LA. How did I do this? By g-chating the whole time! So it turns out that Virgin America has internet on all flights. So there you go! We chatted about this and that, plotted how to subvert the prison industrial complex and mainstream mental health support services. All in all it felt incredibly odd to know that my friend was hurtling through space from one end of the country to the other in a rock fuel propelled canister while I sat in my office.

5. I find it odd that summer school is now something that the chosen get to do rather then what the fuck ups are forced to do. I am currently in enrolled in summer classes that will accelerate my program. Only those of us with high enough GPA’s “get” to do the summer program. So now I get to spend my summer in classes from 4-9 pm, read hundreds upon hundreds of pages of articles and write a lot of papers. Oh boy! I feel special and accomplished. Not at all like a sucker.

The plus side of my summer program is that I am now in a new role at my work. I get to do program planning and development that will entail me doing trainings and such with members so they can hopefully start self organizing around the Center. I’m excited to get to know folks more and get to really delve into working with people who are experiencing mental illness and addiction. I’ve been thinking a lot about how to infuse traditional models of mental health interventions and group work with liberatory ideas and anti-oppression analysis. Its challenging but totally awesome.

6. I went to my pals law school graduation. All I can say is that it pretty much looked like what I imagine graduation at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry (from Harry Potter) might look like. Lots of funny hats, elaborate scepters and robes of many colors and levels of fancy.

7. I have been thinking a lot of home lately. Feeling that pull to be back out west and near my family. Each time I talk to my brother I feel this sense of loss about the time together we miss out on with me living so far away. What would it be like if once a week my brother and I could cook dinner together or drive to our other brothers house in Salt Lake for the weekend? I imagine it would be wonderful and lately I’ve been feeling pressure to not miss out on that kind of time.

8. The local thrift store in downtown JP, Boomerangs (the thrift shop of AIDS Action of Mass.) currently has a window display dedicated to all things robot and sci-fi. It is sort of like a shrine that I’ve found myself engaging in a daily pilgrimage to so as to worship all the items.  The way it works is that everything in the windows are up for auction to the highest bidder. After drooling over the collection of items that range from the Dune board game and shiny silver fabric with robots on it to a full collection of Start Trek: The Next Generation VHS’ I decided to bid on several items. Wish me luck!

9. The other day when I picked up my school books (two weeks after classes started mind you) I was naturally attracted to the young adult fantasy fiction section. Here I was encountered by the most wonderful staff person whom I was able to have a most spirited and jovial conversation about all the books we love. What fun! Of course I also ended up leaving with three new books I have no time to read.

10. Last but not least last night my housemate Muscles decided to try out her skills in do-it-yourself tattooing. Oh boy! What fun. She picked up this idea in a workshop at the Boston Skill Share this weekend. Little did either of us know you have to be willing to jab yourself really hard to break the skin with a sewing needle tied to a pencil. It was definitely hilarious. At one point she allowed me to try and jab her arm. Now that was funny. Unable to sit still at the thought of my ramming a needle into her flesh she nearly broke down in tears. In the end Muscles was left with a very red and irritated forearm and a new appreciation for self tattooing.