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Conan's Debut? Our Maroon Landing

Posted by Ben Collins, Today's Soundtrack  November 9, 2010 01:31 PM

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I was kind of onto something last night—manically pounding away at a keyboard from 11 to midnight, watching the debut of Conan—about how Conan has back-channeled his way to becoming the non-partisan voice of our generation.

It went something like this: He is America’s Patron Saint of Lowered Expectations, standing up on principle and coming through with more celebrity and social capital than ever. He will, by himself, allow this generation to persevere in the face of recession and the risk of caving to lowest-common-denominator TV, one ultra-classy Masturbating Bear sketch at a time, forever and ever, amen.

Then I woke up to find out that The Talk Show Host (as a concept) is allegedly dead. Even if the Talk Show Host isn’t dead, Matthew Gilbert thinks Conan’s career is. He’s not hip; he’s just “meh.”

This is too bad, of course, because I found last night’s show to be really, really funny.

I should qualify this. I’m one of those horrible people at parties who simply does not allow you to like the movie Grown Ups. I’m not proud of this, but you will wonder why you’re alive after you’ve pledged your support of that movie to me.

They make a peeing-in-the-pool joke, people. Come on.

So in this situation, I’m that guy, yes.

Therefore, I can say with a tinge of annoying authority that there is nothing unfunny about someone asking Conan for sweet and sour sauce and him retrieving seven forks. Nothing.

David Sims of the rarely wrong A.V. Club puts it best.

I'm sure O'Brien is going to get some flak for basically sticking to his old format (monologue; desk; couch; two guests; a musical act; Andy Richter), instead of really playing around with the late night format now that he's fully in control of his show. ... But I think looking to Conan O'Brien to come up with something drastically new is misguided ... It feels like what Conan wants to do is host a really great late night show in the classic format, and that's what he gets to do here.”

Or maybe I’m tremendously out of touch with my entire generation. That’s possible. Maybe I trust Conan too much because I grew up with him and just laugh at anything he says, not realizing it’s out of pity.

Maybe I’m allowing myself to get caught up in any major cultural event that’s a positive cultural event, for once, and maybe that’s just me.

These are all things I was seriously considering until 11:02 last night, when I got a text from a friend that just said this:

“This is my moon landing.”

We’ve completely lowered our expectations, sure—and so has Conan—but at least he has us laughing about it again.

Today's Soundtrack: R.E.M. - Man on the Moon

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About the author

Ben Collins can't help but search beyond Feist for the zeitgeist of Today's Soundtrack, his pick of a song or songs capturing the mood or events of the moment. His musical tastes vary from Strawberry Fields to The Magnetic Fields, from Low to Skee-Lo. A North Shore native, Ben has worked at The Boston Globe and Spin and is an Emerson grad. Make your own nominations to him at ben.t.collins@comcast.net or on Twitter @globesoundtrack. More »

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