It is probably not in the spirit of writerly solidarity to say it, but Conan O’Brien doing “Blue Moon of Kentucky” on Friday’s Late Night was most awesome thing I’ve seen in late night since the strike, and for that matter since a long time before that.
Three nights into the late shows’ return, I have to say the unscripted Late Night is more worth watching than anyone, at least if you don’t care about big-star bookings: Dave’s Late Show has been fine and competent enough, but whereas Leno has been busting his hump to create a Potemkin approximation of a Tonight Show with writers, Conan has embraced the writerless challenge full-on, making his show something experimental and different.
It’s got to be a tough line to walk for Conan, who after all worked for years as a Simpsons writer and clearly, strongly is on the writers’ side–you don’t see him trying to do a traditional monologue like Leno’s. Yet an entertainer’s got to entertain, and he’s doing a good job of it alone. “After that song,” his guest Bill Maher told him, “the writers called. They said it’s off.”
If only you could sing this strike away.