Aug 12, 2009

King Of Late Nite Removed From Throne

We the writers here at Organized Remains watch The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien religiously on NBC from 11:35-12:35, but even as fans we recognize when we're watching something dip and sink. Apparently so does the rest of the world, because for the first time since 1998, David Letterman's competing late night show has beat The Tonight Show for at least four consecutive weeks in the ratings war. NBC, who still supports Conan and are not dissatisfied with his ratings by any means, have gone far enough to call their initial moniker "New King of Late Night" for Conan premature. The following are much agreed upon renovations that need to be made to the show in order to climb back on top of the mountain:

1) Drop the Twitter Tracker. Yes, the dialog exchange with the voice-over guy is funny, as are the graphics, but for multiple reasons, this is all in vein. The joke has been made, and received - 99% of tweets, especially be celebrities are not worth the drawing power that they've brought to Twitter. However on the very first show this segment was on, I pointed out to my fellow-writer that even Conan was downplaying the point of it. And if the actor or writer or what-have-you tries to distance himself from his own piece, why should the viewer want to watch? And as for the positive parts of the segment - the arguments and crazy graphics, clearly you could just pull the same shtick with a more entertaining subject matter. Heck, just give Andy his own Twitter as a closure to the series of bits, then you can devote less time to it while still making a big deal over what Andy had for lunch, which would especially be ironic considering he could just tell Conan.

2) Revamp the joke matters in the monologue. It's one thing to try and hit upon hip and relevant topics, but it's come to a point where Spencer Pratt and Larry King are only still relevant because Conan keeps bringing them up. Move on to other celebrities! Make references to older celebrities for retro purposes even, and yes, that in itself is a set-up to the obligatory Larry King Is Old joke.

3) Improve The Sound Stage. So often Conan O'Brien will have some excellent musical performers, but their acts sound just terrible. NBC is nice enough to foot the bill for the lovely Super Mario Brothers back drop and other decorations, but can't do anything about the sound stage? Maybe it's some technical thing that I don't understand, like the building itself just couldn't have excellent quality sound. If that's the case, DO IT OUTSIDE! Universal Studios does outdoor concerts all the time, and Conan's proven with his daredevil stunt guests that they have access to the surrounding lot streets. If you're not going to put some real effort into your musical guest's performances, then don't have them. Stick with the comedians or something, but give up on the music acts.

4) Improv. Conan's best moments on his show have been his unscripted pieces where he talks to real people. Send Conan out on the street with one camera man, and just let him wander until he finds something that catches his eye. I don't care what the theme is, it's always the best. Conan's first walk-around skit is even acclaimed by the show itself, referencing back to it where Conan is walking down the street with a wig, a box fan, an obscene belt buckle and a crazy outfit. This is something that Conan excels in, and everyone in show biz should accentuate their positives to try to hide their negatives.

5) Cartoons. Picking up where my last comment leaves off, let Conan do what he made a career off of - voice overs and cartoon sketches. We live in a three dimensional world, but Conan's imagination reaches into a fourth dimension that only cartoons can achieve. For anyone who really needs proof, check out his collaboration with Jim Gaffigan - Pale Force. Conan already likes to do random sketches, so this wouldn't be hard to imagine, and I'm sure the live crowd would still get a kick out of it.

Honorable Mention: Celebrity Surveys. I love this. I don't know what makes it work, but every time it comes on, I freak out. Keep this up.

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