'The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien': Conan's first night is glitzy, glamorous fun

Conan O’Brien started his first night as host of The Tonight Show with a show that looked as though its budget might have been able to help out General Motors significantly. The opening bit — a long, amusing run across the country from Manhattan to his new studio in Los Angeles — showed that O’Brien used his time preparing to replace Jay Leno wisely. Also that he’s thinking big. 

This taped piece, along with others about taking over a Universal Studios tour tram, another in which he ribbed L.A. car-culture by driving some unhip wheels around the town, and even the short but elaborate sight-gag of Conan at a Lakers game, with the camera panning from Jack Nicholson in a floor seat to Conan up in the rafters — all these suggested just how much careful, clever planning the host is bringing to his new job.

Was all this funny? Sure. But I also have to say, I laughed just as much at the Choco-taco joke he shared with his announcer, the clearly-overjoyed Andy Richter. And first-guest Will Ferrell got off a few good moments, such as lambasting his fellow Tony Award nominee Liza Minelli as “a Communist.” And inaugural music guest Pearl Jam sounded good to me.

All in all, a large-scale, impressive debut. But we all know that success in late-night depends on the long haul — Conan knows this as well as anyone. So now I want to see how he follows up his glitzy debut.

How about you? Did you watch? What did you think of Conan’s first night?

Comments (235 total) Add your comment
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  • Steve

    I thought it was terrific, epic even. I’m a huge fan of his, but frankly I haven’t laughed so hard at anything he’s done since the writer’s strike. I’d like to see more interaction with Max but I think we’ll get that more once they settle in. The video montages were brilliant and vintage Conan, and Will Ferrell’s entrance is destined to become one of those classic Tonight Show moments.

  • Steve

    I thought it was terrific, epic even. I’m a huge fan of his, but frankly I haven’t laughed so hard at anything he’s done since the writer’s strike. I’d like to see more interaction with Max but I think we’ll get that more once they settle in. The video montages were brilliant and vintage Conan, and Will Ferrell’s entrance is destined to become one of those classic Tonight Show moments.

  • Joe

    Conan was outstanding in his debut and will probably crush Letterman. He’s been the funniest guy on late night for some time. Now he can prove that at Late Night. The show finally seems fresh and hilarious again, he’s Carson’s true successor.

  • Joe

    Conan was outstanding in his debut and will probably crush Letterman. He’s been the funniest guy on late night for some time. Now he can prove that at Late Night. The show finally seems fresh and hilarious again, he’s Carson’s true successor.

  • Joe

    Conan was outstanding in his debut and will probably crush Letterman. He’s been the funniest guy on late night for some time. Now he can prove that at Late Night. The show finally seems fresh and hilarious again, he’s Carson’s true successor.

  • Kim Clifton

    Loved the pre-taped skits, but Conan seemed as nervous as a mama’s boy on his first day of kindergarten. Was a monumental moment for Conan, therefore the emotional bondage that brought on the disfunctional delivery will likely wear off as the week wears on. I plan to continue watching.

  • Lynn

    I don’t like Conan, and never have. I don’t like Letterman, and never have.
    I do like Ferguson and always have.
    I will not be watching Conan, his debut, after the cross-country run was flawed with bad timing and errors
    galore. Sad.

  • Kim Clifton

    Loved the pre-taped skits, but Conan seemed as nervous as a mama’s boy on his first day of kindergarten. Was a monumental moment for Conan, therefore the emotional bondage that brought on the disfunctional delivery will likely wear off as the week wears on. I plan to continue watching.

  • Wojo

    I thought the show was ok, but it’s weird to see Conan holding back. You could tell there were a couple times where he wanted to do his cartoonish gestures and voices after some of his jokes but knew that he shouldn’t go too far. I hope he’s able to keep his goofy personality a part of the show over time. I also agree with what Steve below said about Max. Hopefully Max and LaBamba are worked into the mix once they’re settled.

  • Lynn stinks

    Lynn…you and the 12 other viewers that Ferguson has can continue to watch that crap. Just go away. You idiot. No one cares about your dumb opinion.

  • PAT

    I have never understood Conan’s style of humor. I watched the premiere last evening out of curiousity. Not surprisingly, I was disappointed. NBC has made a big mistake. Conan just isn’t funny. After nearly two years of watching Jay Leno, tonight and every night hereforth,I plan on returning to watching David Letterman.

  • MIke M

    The show was great, the set was wonderful. Conan and Andy and Max…this really is the Carson tonight show for us. I am hooked already

  • P

    Hey “Lynn Stinks” you don’t have to kill somebody for their comment. Conan was okay last night, this coming from a Conan fan. Ferguson is wayyyy better than Jimmy. Jimmy cannot make it through a monologue and his jokes are awful. It’ll prove to be interesting to see what happens between Letterman and Conan. It’s become tough for me since I used to watch Letterman then OBrien afterwards.

  • MikeknaJ

    Circle! Circle! Circle!

  • plushpuppy

    Lynn Stinks = Troll
    ignore and it will disappear

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