cultural capital

Conan Returns to New York, and Thank God


Bay Area Late Night fans are much too excited about Frisbees.Photo: NBC

After a week in San Francisco, Late Night With Conan O’Brien returns home today to the cozy hearth of Rockefeller Center. Like previous trips to Toronto, Chicago, and Finland, the San Francisco sojourn was marked by high spirits and top-notch japery. (Particularly enjoyable: the outing to Intel headquarters; repeated references to Mayor Gavin Newsom’s sex scandals delivered as ingenuous expressions of gratitude to the city government.) The return to boring ol’ Studio 6A is welcome, however, because it means relief from the overeager Bay Area audience.

That Californian enthusiasm, so endearing when expressed at Golden State Warriors games, had a disastrous effect on a live comedy show, which had to pause after every crowd shot for about 30 seconds of jumping and shouting. Our TiVo hand was taxed by the five minutes of wanton screaming which opened every show; the situation came to an appalling head when Conan and a guest were prevented from finishing an in-studio game of disc golf by a miniature-Frisbee-mad mob. For shame, allegedly mellowed-out San Franciscans! Chalk this one up for New York City or, perhaps more accurately, to its tourist-filled studio audiences’ respect for the authority of the “Applause” light. —Ben Mathis-Lilley

Conan Returns to New York, and Thank God