Last night,”The Tonight with Conan O’Brien” debuted to huge expectations. Whether or not he lived up to them is debatable.
He started the show with a skit in which he ran from New York, through various famous spots across the U.S. like the George Washington Bridge, Amish Country, Wrigley Field in Chicago, the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, the famous “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign, to his new studio on the Universal lot in Los Angeles, all to Cheap Trick’s “Surrender.”
As the official show opening began, O’Brien’s familiar Late Night theme song started playing and his old pal Andy Richter introduced him along with Max Weinberg and The Tonight Show Band a noticeable upgrade from the Max Weinberg 7.
After a rousing round of applause, Conan started a typical monologue and played a few taped pieces including his taking over a tram tour of Universal Studios and a tribute to his beat-up Ford Taurus before bringing out his guests.
Conan’s first guest was Will Ferrell who came out onto the new and improved Tonight Show stage on a a sedan chair carried by four men in ancient Egyptian costumes. The musical guest was Pearl Jam who debuted a new song off of their upcoming album, “Backspacer.”
Overall, it was the usual Conan O’Brien Shtick, it was actually surprising how little he changed for his new, earlier time slot. Only time will tell if he can keep the show on top of the ratings and retain Jay Leno’s audience despite the radical difference in his comedic style.
On CBS, David Letterman took the opportunity to poke fun at himself and his new competition during his monologue saying, “I’m still here. I knocked off another competitor.” Adding that he received a call from his mother who said,
“Well David, I see you didn’t get the ‘Tonight’ show again.” And when he said he told his Mom that he had Bill Cosby as his guest, his mother said, “OK, maybe I’ll switch from Conan.”
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