The first week of “Conan” is now in the books (like most of the late night shows on cable, they don’t bother with Friday nights), and though the ratings numbers were a mixed bag (after the show’s huge debut, it lost a full one third of its audience moving into the second night), there’s no denying that the material has been top-notch. On Thursday night’s (November 11) episode, Conan O’Brien delivered the best monologue of his new show’s young life span, aided in large part by Kanye West.
West wasn’t actually in the building, of course (he was not even on the continent, actually — according to his Twitter account, he’s in Dubai). But there was video of him there, and his spirit was certainly present. During the monologue, O’Brien brought up the strange series of events that brought together West, George W. Bush and Matt Lauer over the course of the past week, and as a way of poking fun at West’s sometimes pathological acts of self-promotion, O’Brien checked in on a “press conference” that West was supposed to be giving (it was an old tape, of course). After letting him speak about art for a few minutes, it cut back to O’Brien, who let the tape continue in a frame at the bottom of the screen. As O’Brien kept telling monologue jokes, West continued to talk, which amused O’Brien to no end.
The rest of the episode was pretty strong. O’Brien brought out the stars of basic cable (including Bruce Jenner, a hoarder and some crabs from “The Deadliest Catch”) to officially welcome him to that unusual new television landscape, and the interviews with Michael Cera and “Modern Family” star Julie Bowen were both charming and funny. With a week’s worth of shows under his belt, O’Brien can feel good about moving forward, and everybody else can keep feeling a little nervous.