Space Ramblings

Jon Stewart, Conan O’Brien and the End of Late Night

AICN is speculating over the idea of Conan O’Brien taking on Jon Stewart in the Late Night showdown in 2010. This is really news that’s more sad than anything else. Assuming the networks manage to make it to 2010, NBC and CBS can preside over the utter destruction of late night.

Now the original Leno vs Dave Letterman showdown was pathetic in some ways because Leno was an old line standup comedian who pandered to the audience once he got a show and Letterman played to the sticks with a phony gap toothed grin. They vaguely resembled comedians but long before today, Letterman and Leno stopped being funny and began running on pity laughter. How many times does Leno have to wheedle audiences into laughing at a joke? How much of a delay is there between the punch line and the actual laughter? It’s even worse on Letterman who manages to turn his own life into the show’s topic.

Jon Stewart and Conan O’Brien though are even worse. Both are guys who should be head writers for a show. Instead they both emerged to headline shows connecting with a marginal college aged audience. Now I think Conan is funny, as a show. The Daily Show is occasionally funny, mostly though it’s the liberal version of ditto heads. But Conan O’Brien the performer runs on pity laughter and his own geekishly wacky appearance. Conan can’t deliver a joke the way actual comedians can. As for Jon Stewart, faux dry delivery doesn’t cut it either. It’s the End of Late Night as we know it and I feel fine.

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