For 3 days, the biggest name in the talk show industry currently not talking on a talk show, was in Vancouver, Canada for 2 performances.
Of course, I am talking about Conan O'Brien, the ostracized funny man, and former host of the Tonight Show... who will be returning to television later this year with a program for relative newbie in the talk show game, TBS.
"Coco", as his fans have labelled him during his tumultuos battle with his former station that I refuse to acknowledge, brought himself, his sidekick Andy Richter, as well as his band and several others like his writer turned skit performer Deon Cole & opener Reggie Watts on his 32 city tour thru the U.S. & parts of Canada.
For avid Conan fans, this night was a near dream come true. For casual fans, it was still an amazing show. Even the one middle-aged (40s/50s) lady who was with a friend who knew him, but she did not, was thoroughly impressed calling it "some of the funniest stuff I have seen".
His show, without giving out too many of the punchlines, contained a variety of Conan based materials. He had the Masturbating bear there...who has now transformed into the Self-Pleasuring panda, a video skit featuring Triumph the Insult Comic dog, who used his style of humour to poke fun at the city (thru dubbed in voice overs that made the skit even funnier), its people and other things. As well, The Walker Texas Ranger lever was in town, now known as the Chuck Norris Rural Policeman Handle, which ended with the classic clip of "Walker told me I have AIDS" clip.
He had a variety of chatter with sidekick Andy Richter, who also did 2 impromptu "commercials" for local Vancouver establishments that were, to say least comical & degrading the products. Deon Cole did a few minutes of his stand up, and of course the band played a few songs.
Reggie Watts did an exceptional job of comedic & brilliant music as the opener. Most notably an incredibly well worded song that contained a lot of long & not often used words to describe a situation that could have been described with more common words, all while winning the crowd over with the randomly tossed in line of "I love you tits". Many of the people were so focused on trying to keep up with what Reggie was singing that when the line came in, the laughter was slightly delayed as the crowd had it sink in what he just slipped in to a song that was up to that point incredbly "wordy".
Then after a 10-20 min intermission, came the band who did a breif number that included members of the group going into the aisles of the crowd. Once back on stage, a video started showing a rough, overly obese & wildly beared O'Brien laid out on his floor with bottles & 1/2 eaten pizzas scattered around him. As the video plays it shows O'Brien being glum & lethargic after being fired, before he gets a call asking if he wants to do a tour. Then it breaks into Conan "getting in shape" for the tour and just after it ends, out comes Conan.
Coco opened with a monologue of jokes & insights that was a continual cavalcade of laughs. Thru the evening he did a variety of songs, most were his re-worded works of other songs. Some of them were really funny, others to be honest, seemed to maybe drag on at times. In an evening of Gold medal efforts, this was maybe the only SLIGHT drawback of the performances. Some of the songs were great, but not all were in my opinion.
He ended the evening by doing another musical performance as he made his way thru the aisles of the Orpheum Theatre, being slightly mobbed by fans who patted him on the back & took tonnes of photos, he made his way thru a row of seats where he eventually would stop, get up ontop of a seat & play for a few seconds, before getting back down & making his way thru the other side of the row, down the aisle back onto the stage.
He then wrapped up his performance, did his encore & left the stage.
My grades go like this...
Reggie Watts A/A+
Conans stand up A+
Andys "commercials" B
Andy/Conan interaction B+
Deon Cole A-
The band B+
Conans songs B+
Skits (panda, triumph, Chuck Norris etc) A
I paid $98.50 for a ticket. The most I have ever paid for a non-sports event. In the end, I was absolutely, thoroughly and completely, entertained. He joked at the start that he was hoping to put on a show that made us leave there thinking "it was almost worth it"...well, he exceeded that level of value.
Now, as for my adventures in meeting him....the day started off earlier than the show when I went by the Orpheum in the early afternoon hoping to maybe catch them doing a sound check/rehearsal for the show. No luck, as they were still setting stuff up. Shortly after I was there, Conan tweeted a photo of him walking downtown & I instantly was on the trail. Having a good idea where it was, I headed in that direction. However, I never tracked him down & shortly after myself & a friend headed back to the venue. He never came in the door that entertainers usually come thru. The band did, Reggie did, but Conan and Andy Richter did not.
After the show I instantly headed outside & waited with a crowd of 25-40 people. Shortly after one of the vans used to often transport entertainers that had been parked there, took off & my friends & I immediately knew what was up. We headed to a door in the alley behind the theatre that is not too often used at that venue, and sure enough the van was there. Less than 2 minutes later, Conan rushed out & got in the van. One of the hounds asked him for an autograph & Conan replied "sorry I cant, I have to get to the hospital. One of my people had to go there" (paraphrasing a bit perhaps). Unsure if this was a rouse or fact, we of course followed.
Of course as you all know by now from the TMZ photage, it was fact. Conan Rushed over to St. Pauls Hospital where his tour manager was checked in & stayed for close to an hour. By the time he came out it was pouring rain, not ideal for autographs. So we simply took a few pics of him, I got a picture with him (that looks horrible) & we again, followed him. This time to his hotel.
When we got to the hotel, we hurried up to the door where Conan stopped & signed for us. Doing between 3 and 5 items each. He joked with 2 people who did not even know who he was after they saw us getting autographs, they asked him "who are you" Conan asked them if they are Greek, they said yes, Conan said without missing a beat "so am I" then made up a name. The two older men seemed completely satisfied with the answer, but still were asking why is he famous, much to the amusment of us & I think even Coco. He then headed inside, and I waited around a few extra seconds to get Deon Cole, who was hanging in the driveway when Conan showed up.
The next day I retured bright & early, eager to get more Conan autographs. I showed up at 9:15 AM & with the exception of leaving for about 5 mins to get something to eat early on, the door there was guarded by myself or someone else till he finally left at 4 PM. In the meantime we saw LaBamba go out, come in, come back out to get on the tour bus with the rest of the band. Reggie Watts came out & took a cab after missing the bus. I took the chance to get a pic with La Bamba and Reggie, as I was entertained by both of them in the night befores show.
Eventually Conan came downstairs & stood around in the lobby for a few minutes with Andy & staff/crew of the show. At almost 4 exactly he came out, walked straight over to the 3 of us that were waiting, saw me and said in a tone that I have heard him use when he is mockigly talking bad about something & said "oh, its you again", as he came over.
I had 2 posters I was unable to get signed the night before because of some miscommunication & bad luck on my behalf. He assumed I had got posters done the nght before, as the 3 people with me then did in fact get posters done. But he still signed them, making one out to me, and just signing the other one. He then hurried thru a few other requests doing 1-2 per person, I managed to get him to sign for me again, before he stopped signing, then got him to take a quick picture with me & 1 of the other 2 that was there...then he was on his way to the show.
I attempted to beat him to the venue, which was not far on foot, and would have if it werent for a combination of a poorly timed dive/roll thru an alley after losing my footing on the uneven terrain, and an over-aggressive undercover cop who assumed I must have been running from a crime. If 1 or the other event didnt happen, i would have beat him to the venue. But, as it was, I got there JUST to see his hat going in the door....and that was the last I saw of Conan in Vancouver.... I thought... in fact, my blog report was initially done at this point. I was less than 10 minutes from publishing it.
Then I got a text telling me he was eating at a restaraunt downtown yesterday... so I went out. As I strolled up towards the establishment, there was no denying the towering frame covered with orangish-red hair, it was Conan. He was out on the patio in the Cactus Club Cafe eating, not even trying to be hidden. I waited across the street for him to finish his meal/chat with a friend who had accompanied him. Several other fans, including staff at the restaraunt asked for pictures with him & he happily obliged.
Eventually, he got up to leave...which still took 3-5 minutes, as more fans stopped him both outside on the patio he was eating on, and inside as he made his way to the exist. Eventually he got to the exit, opens the door & instantly sees me & greets me with a more upbeat "oh hey, its you again. Whats up?". I of course show him photos I would like him to sign, he asks me how many I have, I tell him several, and he proceeds to shoot thru my pile of 5 photos, laughing at 1 of the ones where he is posed with a monkey. As he was wrapping up, a woman showed up wanting to get a photo with him because her friend in South America was a huge fan of his. She explained to him how her friend was had a crush on him & that when they were younger played "would you rather" (which O'Brien didnt seem to know what that game was) & she picked Conan over Colbert and Leno for who she would rather sleep with, which O'Brien quickly replied "good choice, because I have slept with them and trust me, they arent very good". She then showed him a pic of the friend in question on her phone, which Coco responded with his pattended growl. He then took a pic with the girl, then took a pic with me after I explained that the one from yesterday didnt turn out because his face didnt really show up in it, which he again without missing a beat responded "yeah, thats because I'm the anti-christ & dont show up on film". He then proceeded to leave with his friend across the street to do some hat shopping.
He left the hat shop with a new lid and proceeded to go catch a cab. From there I thought I was done with Conan as I made my way back to a bus stop... but there was 1 more interaction with Coco to be had. As I crossed a street about a block from where I last saw him, his cab passed me. He rolled his window down & waved at me as he went by. Then was within seconds, gone. Out of my sight as the cab caught the green light and was outta there.
All toll- 12 autographs over 3 days. 3 photos with him & several memories that I am sure will stick with me for years.
Thanks for coming to Vancouver Conan O'Brien.... even if it was 3 months too late to take the offer I made you to work for me back in January. http://canadagraphs.weebly.com/1/post/2010/01/an-open-letter-offer-to-conan-obrien-to-work-for-me.html
PS- sorry the pics from the show seem a bit fuzzy, I had poor seats, bad lighting & was being constantly nagged by the 1 usher who seemed to give a crap to not use my camera, or even my blackberry during the show...despeite the 200 other luminescent lights you could see thru the audience.