Why Conan O’Brien’s Trashing of Twitter Gives Us Pause

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We don't know how we missed this before, but sometime in the last few months, Conan O'Brien took over for Jay Leno as host of the Tonight Show! We know, we know, can you believe it? All kidding aside, night two of Conan's brand-new gig was a better indication of how his show will go than night one, which mainly consisted of video bits highlighting Conan's attempt to transform himself into an Angeleno. There were some of those last night, too — specifically, there was a mildly humorous pretaped segment where Conan got confused between the posh Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills and the rugged Rodeo Road in Compton — but in general, the show stuck a little closer to the kinds of topical humor that have been a staple of late-night comedy ever since the genre was invented. However, there was one topic that has bubbled up in popularity in the time since Conan went off the air in February that he finally got the chance to address: Twitter!

Judging by the way this bit was slanted, it's readily apparent that Conan sees Twitter as nothing more than a way for celebrities like Miley Cyrus and Dennis Haysbert to indulge in ego-tripping. From the way the whole bit was positioned (which, btw, would've been greatly improved had Conan used real tweets instead of fake ones as a base), Conan kind of comes off like he's dismissive of not only the banal ways in which a lot of celebrities tend to tweet, but also of the service in general. This, of course, stands in stark contrast to the way Jimmy Fallon has worked to position himself as someone who embraces Internet culture, new media, geeky gadgets, and the like.

While we would be remiss if we said we didn't laugh out loud a few times during the bit ("Bro's a No-no for CoCo?"), the stance it took did concern us a little. Sure, we can see how the sudden ubiquity of Twitter is not only something rife with comedic potential, but something that virtually demands a public takedown of some sort. However, Conan has always positioned himself as a bit of a comedic renegade, one who has built his audience by tailoring his comedy to the scores of college kids who watch his show while they're putting off studying for their calc exams. And while we're perfectly okay with anyone who participates in the backlash against Twitter, we couldn't help but feel a little like this blatant dismissal of the service is something that, dare we say, a stodgy, old-school conservative comic like Jay Leno would've done. We're cognizant that Conan has to tweak his comedy ever so slightly to appeal to the older-skewing 11:30 audience, but we're hopeful that in his pursuit of winning over a more "adult" audience, he doesn't end up alienating his core fan base along the way, by decrying the the kinds of things that "those youngsters with their rock-and-roll music" are wholeheartedly embracing.

Twitter Tracker [Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien]

Earlier: Conan O’Brien’s First Tonight Show: Good!
Conan O’Brien Manages to Work a Jay Leno Impression Into His First Night As Host of the Tonight Show