Last night saw the return of Conan O'Brien
, the foremost redheaded Irish talk show host over six feet tall. Armed with a new announcer (old sidekick Andy Richter
), two A-list guests (Will Ferrell
and Pearl Jam
), and a few months to write new material, it was time to hit L.A... sort of.
The show began with a brilliant cold open. Conan went through his checklist of things to do before starting the show before realizing he was still in New York. Queue a five-minute run through the recognizable landmarks between the two cities to "Surrender!" After sprinting through a Cubs game, through Colorado, and stopping off at a Victorian Doll museum, it was time to start the show.
The first episode back dealt mostly with the move to L.A. and the culture shock that Conan had to go through. Andy Richter appears to have some sort of sidekick-ish role, although his mic was a little loud during the monologue. We should hear the crowd laughing, not Andy. Also, recent fans that tuned in after Andy left may end up missing Conan's back-and-forth with Max Weinberg - so here's to hoping that isn't off the table for good.
The best pre-guest gag was a trip on Universal Studios' tour bus, with Conan doing the honors as the tour guide. After wailing dramatically when set pieces like a bridge cracking under the weight of the bus, he made the driver move in circles for several minutes ("Circle! Circle! Circle!") and then convinced the driver to take the tour bus onto the road ("It's not appropriate to yell 'WOOO' every time I have us do something illegal"). We'd treat you to a video of this, but it's inexplicably absent from the clips of last night.
Comedian Will Ferrell christened the new stage, carried out on a litter by four men in Egyptian garb. After explaining he didn't want to show up Conan - by having his back-up litter used instead of the nice one - he shared an amusing clip from Land of the Lost
involving urine, called Liza Minnelli
a "Commie," and sang goodbye to Conan before mentioning "This is a crapshoot, at best." It followed a theme of a) no one expecting Conan to make it, and b) he's not going to last, anyway.
Pearl Jam finished up with a rousing rendition of their latest song, "Get Some." It's not clear if it was the intent of the band, but the vocals were mostly drowned out by the instruments. If anything, that added to the great performance as it lent a "live" feel to the sound. We'll have to see how the rest of the musicals guest will fare to figure out the acoustics.
All-in-all, it was a very good episode of Conan. Once they ramp up and begin to joke about things other than "we're new to L.A.!" we'll see how the show will really pan out.
Story by Casey Johnson
Starpulse.com contributing writer