Powered by i.TV
April 20, 2014

Point/Counterpoint: Conan O'Brien will succeed on The Tonight Show

by Nick Zaino, posted Jun 1st 2009 3:31PM
Conan O'BrienToday is the day Conan O'Brien takes up the mantle of one of the most beloved shows in TV history - The Tonight Show. And since feelings about O'Brien on some of my previous posts have been so strong, I thought it might be a good idea to do a point/counterpoint on the question, "Will Conan O'Brien succeed on The Tonight Show?"

I will be taking the position that he will be successful, and my formidable opponent will be John Scott Lewinski, who will take the position that O'Brien will not be successful.

My argument:

1. NBC has done everything in its power to make for a smooth transition. O'Brien has had roughly four months to prepare for the new show, to get adjusted to L.A., and get comfortable in his new set. Having him on as the last guest on Jay Leno's version of The Tonight Show should have eased the concerns of some of Leno's more ardent fans (and the anti-Conan contingent among them).

2. O'Brien has a great pedigree. Leno has praised him repeatedly for his strong writing, and did it again on Friday's show. O'Brien has written for The Simpsons and Saturday Night Live and succeeded in both environments for different audiences. He has also thrived for most of his 16 years on Late Night, something his detractors seem to forget. There is nothing he has tried yet to which he has not adapted nicely.

3. He has great writers, and his staff is pretty much intact from the old show. O'Brien has always known how to find great talent, and some of the best in the business have worked on the show - Louis C.K., Robert Smigel, Jack McBrayer, and Amy Poehler, to name a few. Covering the comedy beat in Boston for more than a decade, I can say that Boston comedian Brian Kiley, who moved to L.A. with the show, is a great comedian in his own right, and appeals to a wide audience.

4. The theme song. Yes, the theme song. Max Weinberg is adapting the old Late Night theme for the new show, which brings back the sound of a swinging horn section similar to Johnny Carson's old theme. Oh, yeah, and Weinberg and the band will be back, too, and they were a great foil for O'Brien on Late Night.

5. O'Brien is a fun interviewer. Over the years, I've seen a lot of guests put at ease by O'Brien's easy, self-deprecating style. People seem to be willing to match his goofiness and open up a bit. And when he has a guest on who's already silly, like, say Will Ferrell, the friendly one-upmanship is usually pretty enjoyable to watch.

So there are just a few reasons why I think Conan O'Brien will succeed on The Tonight Show. Mr. Lewinski, your turn...

Add a Comment

*0 / 3000 Character Maximum

14 Comments

Filter by:
Suzanne

I don't know what it is about him that turns me off...his mugging, his insincere laugh, the way he always looks as if he's thinking of something funny to say rather than actually listen to his guest..and I stopped counting how many times he clapped his two hands together after 32! Talk about annoying. I don't like watching someone try that hard.

June 02 2009 at 9:22 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Tom

I would suggest dropping that foolish jump when he comes on stage, it makes me cringe and him look dumber.I would have to think there is some degree of sophistication watching this show.........

June 02 2009 at 2:51 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
rtms

I think he'll do well for the first week but with summer coming up I believe it won't be until fall that we really see if he has staying power or people move back over to Letterman.

June 01 2009 at 6:46 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
hobbsoldbg65

No way, he will sink like the Titanic.He stinks folks. I will never, ever, watch him.He is a moron.

June 01 2009 at 5:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Frantic Monkey

Conan all the way baby. It's been awful without him on the air. Finally he's back and with the added bonus that Leno will be gone for 4 months.

http://hollywoodhubbub.com

June 01 2009 at 5:24 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Frantic Monkey's comment
Andrew

How is Leno being gone an added bonus? Was someone forcing you to watch him?

June 01 2009 at 5:37 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
RevJonathan

@andrew

When Leno is on the best guests will head over to his show at an earlier hour, thus making Conan, and especially Jimmy Fallon, suffer.

June 01 2009 at 6:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Tool

In some ways, Conan O'Brien could be the real successor to the Carson Throne. He has that kind of genius impishness of Carson whereas Jay was the blue collar lowest common denominator kind of guy.

I, for one, will be checking out Conan tonight. My mother doesn't normally let me stay up that late, but has given me special permission.

June 01 2009 at 4:44 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
MJL

"He has great writers, and his staff is pretty much intact from the old show. O'Brien has always known how to find great talent, and some of the best in the business have worked on the show - Louis C.K., Robert Smigel, Jack McBrayer, and Amy Poehler, to name a few."

When did Jack McBrayer and Amy Poehler work on the show? This passage makes it seem like they wrote for the show but I don't remember that being the case.

June 01 2009 at 4:07 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to MJL's comment
JR

I remember Jack McBrayer appearing in different skits on the show for a number of years, but I'm not sure if he was a writer on the show as well. Probably not.

June 01 2009 at 4:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Paul

McBrayer and Poehler's first breaks in TV were appearing in various skits on "Late Night". McBrayer often played either a southern hick-style character or, surprise surprise, an NBC page. Poehler made many appearances as Andy's little sister who was in love with Conan and then instantly hated him when the feelings weren't returned.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8P55OASR5bw

June 01 2009 at 9:34 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
jonk

What is the point of having a Point/Counterpoint if there is no link to the counterpoint?

June 01 2009 at 4:04 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to jonk's comment
Andrew

I think he was trying to get the commenters to provide the counterpoint.

June 01 2009 at 5:34 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Mary Jean Bartow

Conan,

what the heck happened to you - your late night was really funny - this is lame. maybe you need your old writersl

August 03 2009 at 11:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Follow Us

From Our Partners