Friday, January 22, 2010

Friday Favorite: My Vote for Late Night 2009? Patton Oswalt

For my final word on this whole NBC late night debacle, I thought I would go back to February 2007 to refresh an entry I wrote regarding who I felt was the best choice to replace Conan O'Brien on Late Night after he moved onto The Tonight Show.

I admit that sometimes I get things very wrong. This was one of those posts that given what we know now, was an awful idea. But I still have to live with it and sometimes their is humor in folly.

I am glad what I wrote didn't come to pass.

I also swear this is the last time I am going to discuss this topic on Culture Kills for a long time. That is unless one of three things happen:

a) Conan's final show ratings tonight surpass Leno's final Tonight Show ratings.

b) Leno shows a remarkable lack of class on an upcoming Oprah appearance and he grossly slanders Conan O'Brien, who cannot defend himself because of the nature of his settlement with NBC (there would be monetary penalties and he is not allowed to be interviewed on another talk show for a while).

c) I got a really really bad comment on one of my previous posts about this subject and I single that person out for scorn and humiliation. (I am not talking about well-thought out responses to what I've written... you know the kind of thing I mean)

Other than that, I will likely be silent about this issue for a long time.

Anyway, here is that previous piece of poor prognostication. ;)


While I am happy that Conan O'Brien is going to be behind the big desk of the Tonight Show starting in 2009, I am worried about what is going to happen over at Late Night.

You see, there are two names currently floating around for this empty slot: Carson Daly and Jimmy Fallon.

Carson Daly currently has a show following Late Night called Last Call... and much like a bar at Last Call, there is little mirth there left as all the entertainment has left the building. And there is the fact that he isn't a comedian and really, not much of a personality either.

And well Jimmy Fallon... you know, that guy who starred in Taxi with Queen Latifah and is rumored to star as Major Nelson in the remake of I Dream of Jeannie, the guy who couldn't keep a straight face during sketches on Saturday Night Live? Yeah, that guy. I'll admit that the fact that he played Carson Daly on SNL gives him an edge over the former host of TRL, but really, even I have an edge over him. I don't think he has the stuff to fill that chair particularly well either.

I know that when Letterman left that slot in 1993 and Conan O'Brien ascended to those relatively lofty heights, there were a lot of naysayers then claiming that he had no business helming a talk show, and this may seem like more of the same, but there is a big diffence in these situations. Conan was truly an untested commodity, while the limitations of Jimmy Fallon and Carson Daly are clear today.

But rather than merely kvetch about the people who are in line for that throne, I thought it would be better to suggest an alternative.

Patton Oswalt.

When you look back at the almost three decades of Late Night, you will notice something profound... the comics who hosted it were sort of geeky and that worked for them and Patton Oswalt with his pop cultural sensibilities would fit well with that aesthetic.

He is also willing to take a joke to its natural conclusion, even if it makes him look foolish to get the laugh. His delivery is very natural and conversational, and I think he would probably be very adept at the art of interviewing.

He has experience working within a writer's room from his stint at MadTV and managing a show from putting together the Comedians of Comedy tour. And because he was a featured player on The King of Queens, he has some additional face recognition with Middle America and experience working on a show week in and week out while at the same time, Oswalt also has quite a lot of cache because of the edgy nature of his comedy. He is the best of both worlds: an affable, genial personality with quite a lot to say.

Now I don't even know if he would consider such a position, but I think if he was interested, NBC should at least give him a shot, as he is far and away a much better choice than either of the personalities they are currently rumored to be after.

So, given the choices out there, who would you hire for that position?


Patton Oswalt naturally went on to greater things, including a starring role in a Pixar movie and numerous comedy specials, so clearly, he didn't need that gig, even if it was offered to him. Let's just say, I stand corrected.


John said...

My favorite host is Conan. He's the only consistently funny host on the air. Well, of the big three, at least. I don't know the rest.

MC said...

Conan has earned his reputation.

Maven said...

As an aside, Stella D'Oros are good. I like the chocolate ones:)

MC said...

See, we don't have those over here (at least not in my neck of the woods).