Over the weekend, Conan O’Brien’s Legally Prohibited from Being Funny on Television Tour rolled into Toronto, and having never seen a taping of his show in New York City before he had moved on to The Tonight Show, Alicia and I didn’t want to miss out on this. I really had no idea what to expect, especially since it was merely a stop gap solution for Conan and his crew to stay employed until they could return to the airwaves in September. Would it still be funny and worthwhile? There were also rumours that various skits and characters could not be brought with them because they remained the intellectual property of NBC.
Thankfully, those rumours turned out to be untrue… or at least, the legalities were murky enough that many familiar faces were still able to make appearances. After an opening set from stand up comedian / beatboxer Reggie Watts, and a couple of introductory songs from the Legally Prohibited Band (minus Max Weinberg), Conan came out and delivered a fairly lengthy monologue that was actually more like a stand up comedy set. As you would expect, there was a lot of talk about coping with the loss of his show (including the 8 stages of mourning), and this all went over fairly well with the audience. Unlike a lot of stand up comedians, I also got the feeling that they were switching a lot of stuff up every night to keep it fresh.
Writer Deon Cole did a short but solid set, and Triumph the Insult Comic Dog made an appearance via video screen, while Andy Richter did a short segment called “Things I Learned” (sadly, there was no “In The Year 2000″ though). The Masturbating Bear also turned up on stage, and, the biggest surprise of the night was the return of the Walker Texas Ranger lever! I was hoping for a little more audience participation stuff, but they did turn the camera on various audience members for one segment, only to catch Toronto celebrity Flyerman showing off his trademark light-up jacket.
My only real complaint from the night is that I wasn’t that interested in seeing a whole lot of Conan O’Brien: The Rock Star. The night concluded with Conan strapping on a guitar and playing through a number of songs including “I Will Survive” (the Cake version), and an encore of “The Weight” and Ronnie Hawkins’ “Forty Days”. I realize that you need to give the band members something to do, but Conan is not much of a singer. However, they did make up for this somewhat by using a giant inflatable bat as the backdrop, which they claimed was from Meatloaf’s Bat Out of Hell Tour.
At any rate, it definitely put Conan in a slightly new light, and even though he has performed in front of a live audience for years, this was a lot more energetic and yes, even a little more risque. His charisma is most certainly still in tact, and even though he still seems hurt by the whole NBC fiasco, he isn’t giving up what he loves. I’m looking forward to seeing what they can do on TBS… if I can find a channel in Canada that carries it.