The benefits of Conan O'Brien's move to TBS in November include more than just a reported $10 million salary and ownership of his show; he'll also gain a host of new freedoms he never had on boring old standards-restricted NBC. On sex-friendly, expletive-filled basic cable, the gutter's the limit! And if Don Draper can do it or say it, then so can Conan, goddammit. So what fun new things can he do?
Not that he needs to push boundaries to be funny, but below are a few things Conan could technically feature on his upcoming TBS show. (Also: Yes, we know that the FCC had no real authority over Conan when he was on NBC, since his show aired after 10 p.m. But advertisers would've thrown a fit if he'd done any of these things on broadcast TV, whereas the relative permissiveness of cable advertisers makes possible filthy shows like Mad Men, Nip/Tuck, and South Park.)
It's not allowed on network TV, but a 2001 episode of South Park featured the unbleeped use of this low-level curse a whopping 162 times, paving the way for shows like Justified, Mad Men, and Nip/Tuck to use it, too (albeit a little more sparingly). Obviously TBS-employed Conan will freely deploy it as an exclamation, but we hope he'll find other uses for it as well. For example, if NBC's lawyers decide that the Self-Pleasuring Bear is too similar to the Masturbating Bear, Conan can also rename the character the Shitting Bear (it already wears a diaper).
A Drunk Studio Audience
Back when he was one of the hosts of cable's The Man Show, Jimmy Kimmel served his studio audience free beer for four whole years without any interference from Comedy Central. But when he moved to ABC, the suits scotched his open-bar after just one spectator puked on camera during his first episode. With Conan moving to TBS, maybe it's time somebody brought back insobriety to late night. Team Coco worked hard to get Conan this TBS deal, and he owes them a few drinks.
Maybe it's because we've had HBO since elementary school, but we didn't realize that rear-entry intercourse was so much more of a TV taboo than the more standard kind. But we just spent twenty minutes reading various advisories on the Parents Television Council's website, and they're just obsessed with it. The major networks are still a little skittish about doggystyle, but, thanks to FX's Nip/Tuck, it's totally okay on cable. It remains to be seen just how much good that does Conan, but if you should ever find yourself copulating on the set of his TBS show, be aware that the missionary position is not your only option.
Now that Mad Men has made smoking glamorous again, no basic-cable show should be without it. Conan doesn't smoke, but once he's on TBS, we hope that won't stop his guests. Just imagine how much easier it will be for him to book tar-lunged celebrities like Sean Penn, Katherine Heigl, and Barack Obama now that they can light up right on his couch.
With all the devil's dandruff flying up Arthur Frobisher's nose on Damages these days, Conan might look like a prude if his TBS show were totally coke-free. Maybe doing a few pretend rails at his desk each night before his monologue would improve his dancing.
Like we said, if Don Draper can do it, so can Conan. He'd just have to find an open-minded guest.