NBC DOES NOT, HOWEVER, OWN THE SELF-PLEASURING PANDA: Conan O'Brien's "Legally Prohibited From Being Funny On Television" Tour show is fascinating enough in and of itself, but what I think is most interesting about it is what it may say about where his TBS show may go. Because Conan will no longer have a brand (Late Night or The Tonight Show), I think he can do some interesting things with the format, and tonight's show demonstrated he could do that--a little more than 2 hours of Conan-fronted show, without a single celebrity interview segment to weigh it down. (We did have cameos from Eli Manning and John Krasinski, with whom Conan informally chatted before they pulled the Walker lever, a comic interlude from Mr. Pee-Wee Herman, and some purported standup from a Conan writer who kind of reminded me of Columbus Short's character from Studio 60. (Note--this is not meant as a compliment.))
Rather than being tethered to a desk, Conan walked around the stage, enjoyed vodka and wine, did scripted comedy bits, shot the breeze with his guests and Andy, and played guitar and sang (no band joined him tonight, though Max Weinberg came out from backstage to play drums on "The Weight," the show's encore). Contrast with Jay Leno, who, if you had the unfortunate experience of viewing the earliest episodes of The Jay Leno Show, seemed utterly lost without a desk save for during the monologue. I'm wondering if Conan may try and discard things like the desk and the couch, which have been staples of talk shows for so long, and try something altogether different. I'll say that this show made me very interested to see what he has planned next. Will I watch Coco every night? No. Do I think he could do something very interesting and different with a show? Absolutely.