Some quick thoughts on the second episode of "The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien" coming up just as soon as I admire that asteroid...
Much better. Much better.
Again, it's not that Conan had a bad debut show, but there were some nerves, and it didn't feel like he led with his strongest comedy material, especially after having so many months to prepare. But night two was Conan firing on all thrusters, whether with brief, surreal gags like the small Asian woman turning into Max, or with longer pieces like his shopping trip to Rodeo Rd. Twitter Tracker worked almost entirely because of Conan's reaction to the overexuberant announcer, and the asteroid gag with Tom Hanks(*) was perfectly executed. I had no idea it was coming, and I had to rewind it 2 or 3 times before I stopped laughing at it.
(*) Question: Who are the top 5 talk show guests currently alive and working enough to pop up on these shows now and again? Hanks has to be on that list, just as he's in the upper pantheon of "SNL" hosts.
All that, and he (or Brian Williams) got President Obama to crack a few jokes at his expense(**). Nice!
(**) Let me remind you once again of our No Politics rule. You can talk about whether Obama was funnier than comparable appearances by Bush or either of the Clintons, but that's as far as we go, okay?
I don't know that anything in episode two will change the minds of the Jay loyalists who e-mailed me yesterday to complain that Conan was, quote, "Unbelievably childish." (Because, of course, nothing says sophisticated and mature comedy like Jaywalking or the Dancing Itos.) But for the Conan fans, and those still on the fence, this felt much more akin to what the guy looks like at the top of his game.
What did everybody else think?