Spoiler alert: If you are planning on seeing Conan's live show, note that the article below contains some minor spoilers about the show's content.
Conan O'Brien, "Legally Prohibited from Being Funny on Television Tour"
Hult Center for the Performing Arts (Eugene, Ore., April 12, 2010)
As part of his January settlement agreement with NBC, deposed Tonight Show host Conan O'Brien was forbidden from appearing on television until September 1st. Needing another way to reach his fans until his return to the small screen (which will come in November on cable network TBS), the comedian decided to take his show on the road -- literally.
The 30-city "Legally Prohibited from Being Funny on Television Tour" (other tour dates here) kicked off earlier this week in Eugene, Oregon with a combination of pre-taped segments and live performances. Joining a bearded O'Brien on stage were sidekick Andy Richter (but not Max Weinberg), slightly altered old favorites (NBC holds the rights to the original characters) such as the "Self-Pleasuring Panda," plus guest appearances from Triumph the Insult Comic Dog, Jack McBrayer, and indie rockers Spoon. O'Brien himself performed several songs during the nearly two-hour show, including "I Will Survive."
The best part of show, according to published comments, was the opening, which you can see (to an extent) below in this fan-shot footage (though you may want to turn your volume down a bit):
Below is an informal sampling of the response to O'Brien's first live date. We did take the liberty of assigning scores to each review, but keep in mind that it's an inexact science. (And it doesn't take a scientician to tell you that it's technically not even a science at all.)
|80||Associated Press||Lynn Elber|
|O'Brien's boundless, near-manic energy was at once impressive and worrisome: Can the rail-thin comedian keep this pace up for some 30 cities more?|
|80||The New York Times||Bill Carter|
|The show was more a raucous variety and vaudeville act than stand-up performance, though Mr. O’Brien ... did deliver an opening monologue. But he also sang with ferocity, blasted away on three separate guitars, and danced with reckless abandon at several junctures.|
|80||Rolling Stone||Scott Sepich|
|He was extremely funny. ... The content of the show occasionally strayed to places he’s never gone on TV, with a smattering of profanities tossed in to give the show an edgier feel.|
|70||Entertainment Weekly||Dan Snierson|
|Would’ve traded some of the music for more comedy—though O’Brien was clearly having a blast with his guitar.|
|70||The Hollywood Reporter||Erik Pedersen|
|An enjoyable though uneven night of comedy ... All told, though, the comedy was hit and miss, with significantly fewer laughs during the second hour|
|70||Los Angeles Times||Charles McNulty|
|[The show] isn’t so much Conan new and unplugged as Conan old and uncorked. But it’s nice to have this genial clown back anyway we can get him. Few entertainers possess the ironic chops to transform a riotous auditorium into a dorm party so good-natured that dud gags wind up fetching as many laughs as the shrewdest zingers.|
|70||The Oregonian||Kristi Turnquist|
|At times, the show seemed to cheerfully roll around like an out-of-control soccer ball. But O'Brien and crew always managed to bring it back from the "where-is-this-going?" episodic brink. The proceedings could stand some tightening and trimming -- Conan, we know you love that guitar, but a few of those songs should probably go -- but everybody was giving it their all.|
What do you think?
Are you still with Team Coco? Are you planning on catching one of O'Brien's live performances? Do you think TBS will be a good fit for his new show? Let us know in the comment area below.