Being an expatriate New Yorker, when I heard Conan O’Brien was having a hard time wrapping his brain around moving from New York to Los Angeles, I could relate. I had the same experience six years ago, although I did not bring my late night TV talk show with me.
Fortunately, last night during the first installment of his new show (The Tonight Show, vacated last week by Jay Leno in case you’ve been living in a cave) from his new studio (on the Universal lot instead of NBC Studios in Burbank) in his new city, it was the same insane and strange Conan.
In an earlier time slot then his previous show and in a tamer town, the presumption is he may have to tone it down for a more mainstream audience. Last night that didn’t appear to be the case, although he seemed to be on his best behavior and he signaled as much, either intentionally or not, with a few nervous seconds here and there.
Filled with barbed humor and seemingly drug-induced antics, the show began with a hilarious opening montage of him wearing a suit as he, literally, ran (and swam) across the country; through New Jersey, Chicago, St. Louis, Midwest farmland, the Rockie Mountains, Las Vegas (with a brief, bizarre rest stop at a Victorian doll museum) and into LA to get to his new workplace.
Another bit of a lunacy had him riding the tourist-filled Universal Studios tram out into the surrounding streets of Universal City, heckling passers-by and gleefully snarling traffic.
“Red is a girl’s color! Don’t buy it!” he screeched at a guy checking out a crimson vehicle at a car dealer.
In the land of cars, he may be asking for trouble. (Watch the opening clip here.)