LIVE LAUGH­TER

O’Brien and his comic bud­dies hit the road for a lit­tle bit of weird­ness

Calgary Herald - - YOU - EMILY YAHR

WASH­ING­TON With his pants hiked up as far as they could go, Conan O’Brien had a con­fes­sion: This was his ac­tual waist­line. You would never know it when he’s all dressed up on TV, but he has the “legs of an NBA cen­tre” and the short torso of an 18th-cen­tury school­girl with rick­ets.

“This is the real Conan O’Brien,” he told the sold-out au­di­ence, who roared ap­pre­cia­tively.

O’Brien did look a bit dif­fer­ent re­cently at Warner The­atre, where he kicked off his 18-city tour Conan & Friends: An Evening of StandUp and In­vest­ment Tips. In­stead of a suit, a get-up he has worn for the last two decades on his latenight tele­vi­sion shows, he sported a more ca­sual look, in­clud­ing a leather jacket he said evoked a “hip bi­ol­ogy teacher.”

The two-hour show, which fea­tured sets from co­me­di­ans Rory Scovel, James Veitch, Ma­rina Franklin and Flula Borg, was a solid dose of highly en­ter­tain­ing weird­ness while TBS’ Conan is off the air for three months. Ear­lier this year, the net­work an­nounced O’Brien would scale back to 30-minute episodes to mix things up and give him the chance to pro­duce more travel shows and re­mote seg­ments, which of­ten lead to his best ma­te­rial.

Un­til the show re­turns in Jan­uary, O’Brien has some time to kill. And this was a much dif­fer­ent tone than O’Brien’s last tour in 2010, The Legally Pro­hib­ited from Be­ing Funny on Tele­vi­sion Tour, when O’Brien was still smart­ing from the un­pleas­ant end of his Tonight Show ten­ure on NBC.

This time, it was pure joy. On­stage at the Warner, O’Brien said it was also a cel­e­bra­tion of his 25 years on tele­vi­sion (NBC’s Late Night de­buted in 1993), a feat only ac­com­plished by “golden gods” such as Jerry Springer or Mario Lopez.

“This is a big deal,” O’Brien said, “be­cause this is a chance for me to break out of ev­ery­thing I do.”

In­deed, O’Brien used some spicier lan­guage than he does on TV as he did 25 min­utes of standup, es­chew­ing his usual monologue. But the show still had some sig­na­ture bizarre Conan bits — such as ran­domly de­cid­ing Willem Dafoe was his neme­sis — and his typ­i­cal self-dep­re­ca­tion. This crowd was bet­ter than his stu­dio au­di­ence in Bur­bank, Calif., he said, be­cause those are peo­ple out on work re­lease; af­ter­ward, they are cat­tle-prod­ded and led to Ellen De­Generes’ show across the lot, “where they are forced to dance against their will.”

O’Brien de­voted the last 15 min­utes of the show to an au­di­ence Q&A, which led to hi­lar­ity and con­fu­sion, es­pe­cially when fans had lame ques­tions such as “What’s your favourite band?”

“That’s your ques­tion?” O’Brien asked in dis­be­lief. “I’m open to talk­ing about my sex­ual pref­er­ences, where I have scars, and you want to know my favourite band? I don’t know, the band of bears that plays at Dis­ney­land.”

He also fielded queries about how he con­structs his fa­mous hair­style ( just add may­on­naise, bath­room caulk­ing and onion juice) and his fa­mously ro­botic pro­ducer, Jor­dan Sch­lansky (“I’ve met cop­per hinges with more per­son­al­ity”).

True to form, he didn’t get po­lit­i­cal — though he did air some archival footage of Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, whom Late Night used to call if they ever needed some­one in New York to help out with a com­edy bit. One time, Trump in­sisted on do­ing some im­prov and said he had a hi­lar­i­ous idea that in­volved pour­ing wa­ter all over a desk. (Spoiler alert: It was not funny.)

One au­di­ence mem­ber asked about O’Brien’s long­time side­kick, Andy Richter, and what he might be do­ing at the mo­ment.

O’Brien said he had no idea, but it prob­a­bly in­volved a Bar­caLounger and beer.

“Andy has the best life,” O’Brien said. “I want to die and come back as Andy Richter.”

The tour’s only Cana­dian stop is Dec. 14 at Van­cou­ver’s Queen El­iz­a­beth The­atre.

GETTY IMAGES

Co­mE­DiAn ConAn O’BriEn is tAk­ing A hiA­tus from his pop­u­lAr lAtE-night TBS tAlk show to pEr­form stAnDup on A tour thAt in­CluDEs just onE CAnA­DiAn stop — VAn­Cou­vEr.

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