As I predicted back in February when the White House Correspondents’ Association announced that Conan O’Brien would be returning to host their annual dinner, O’Brien’s routine on Saturday was a fairly tame one that took harder aim at the media than at anyone in power. But in between his bit:
and President Barack Obama’s routine:
there were some decent gags. Here are ten of our favorites: Read more
Ed Henry, the senior White House correspondent for Fox News who is the president of the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner, announced this morning that Conan O’Brien, who’s currently hosting a late-night show on TBS, will host the Association’s dinner this April. Ever since Stephen Colbert hosted the dinner in 2006 and turned it into a brutal critique of President Bush’s performance as president, the Association has made a series of relatively safe choices who are unlikely to make the president and his wife, members of the press, or anyone else particularly uncomfortable. O’Brien, judging by the evidence from his experience hosting the dinner in 1995, knows the score, though there is a pretty good joke about Ira Magaziner, who was President Clinton’s chief health-care policy adviser, having a 6,000-ingredient recipe for veal piccata, in reference to the length of his health care reform bill, which had died the previous year:
But it’s too bad the Association seems to have decided that their choices are between skewering the president and going relatively bland and toothless. There are other ways to be funny than to make the head guest in the room feel uncomfortable, and I wish the Association would think a little bit more creatively about their host choice on that score—and on other ones as well. Since the dinner began having hosts in 1944, only three women have ever hosted the event solo, Paula Poundstone in 1992, Elayne Boosler in 1993, and then no one else until Wanda Sykes in 2009. Why not have Amy Poehler break up that drought a little bit and host in character as Leslie Knope, whose good-government and love of Washington would provide a much kinder framework than Colbert’s to satirize the event she’d be summing up? Want someone who might be able to riff on the idea of President Obama as a symbol and as a man, but who probably wouldn’t go too politically brutal? Why not ask Kevin Hart, in part in recognition of his huge stand-up success—and in part because a black comedian hasn’t hosted the dinner solo since Sinbad in 1991?
I don’t mind O’Brien, but he’s a choice who represents the problems of the Association itself—white, male, catering at this point to a limited audience, and unlikely to offend anybody. His announcement comes at a moment when, as Dave Weigel has pointed out, Henry is throwing a temper tantrum because members of the Association weren’t allowed to take pictures of President Obama playing golf with Tiger Woods, a fight that illustrates the White House press corps’ frequent focus on minutae and color over substance. I’m not saying thinking more creatively and independently about who is going to host the Association’s dinner will come close to fixing all the problems of the White House press corps. But it might help the Association consider who it wants to represent the organization on that dias, what role it thinks its’ members have, and its own capacity to take a joke—and criticism.
Chaz The Intolerant Chick-fil-A Chicken Returns! |
Last night, Conan O’Brien hosted another visit from Chaz, the Intolerant Chick-fil-A Chicken, a new mascot that tries to convince gays and lesbians to give up homosexuality for Chick-fil-A food. After two earlier appearances this week, Chaz let Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day go to his head, calling civil unions “disgusting” and attempting to cite Bible verses. Watch the hilarious results:
Conan O’Brien Introduces ‘Chaz, The Intolerant Chick-fil-A Chicken’ |
This week, Conan O’Brien introduced a new mascot for Chick-fil-A: Chaz, the Intolerant Chicken. Preaching the company’s anti-gay beliefs, Chaz encourages gay men and lesbians to give up their abominable attractions and enjoy Chick-fil-A’s food as substitute, with hilarious results. Chaz always signs off with his trademark tagline, “Eat up, You Godless Sodomites!” Watch the clips:
WATCH: Conan O’Brien Officiates Loving Same-Sex Wedding |
What better way to start a Friday morning than watching this clip from last night’s Conan O’Brien show. Team Coco has been in New York this week for the one-year anniversary of its new TBS show, and while there, Conan’s costume designer, Scott Cronick, intended to marry his partner, David Gorshein. They performed the wedding on the show last night and Conan legally officiated, with both grooms’ families present. Despite the Family Research Council’s suggestion that the ceremony would “highlight what a sham same-sex ‘marriage’ is,” the wedding was genuinely loving. Watch it:
'Conan O'Brien Can't Stop' is a good look at the darker side of comedic experimentation.
There are two ways to look at Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop, which opens today in limited release. The first is as the story of a guy, who upon receiving a $33 million severance package when he left his old job ($12 million was shared among his staff), and went on tour with friends as diverse as Andy Richter, Jack White, and Jim Carrey to make himself feel better. The second is as a close look at the compulsion to perform, and the uncomfortable ways comedians work out their material not just by saying occasionally horrifying things in public that fall flat as jokes, but by needling the people in their private lives. Because it’s fairly hard to enjoy the movie, which is often quite good, if you take the former approach, so in watching it, I mostly tried to stick to the latter.
The movie starts a bit unevenly. In a nice zeitgeist-tapping device, it outlines the basic conflict that led to Conan’s departure from NBC in Taiwanese animation, only to bog down in a bunch of questions that get at things the rest of the movie will articulate in much more spontaneous and funny ways. But fortunately that interlude is brief, and once it gets going, Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop really zips. Once the idea for a tour is conceived, tickets sell out, and Conan gets to work trying out jokes, casting a couple of very attractive women as backup dancers, rewriting songs to be about his battle with NBC. In retrospect, the agita about whether the show will succeed is a little forced, but these sequences show a guy putting himself together again in a way that’s interesting to watch, especially because it’s on a much grander scale that carries with it much larger consequences, than anything most ordinary people do to get over something really terribly traumatic. Read more