(There are lots of details below, so if you are going to one of the Conan “Legally Prohibited from Being Funny on Television” shows and don’t want to be spoiled, you might want to hold off reading this. However, every show is different, and I kind of wish I had been spoiled because then I would have known things like bringing a camera was not only allowed, it was practically encouraged. Oh well, live and learn.)
Conan’s show in Upper Darby was seriously one of the best shows of any sort that I’ve ever been to. Our seats were right along the center aisle, almost at the very back of the orchestra level. Even though I hadn’t brought my glasses, this was fine, because most of the show was also shot with video cameras and projected on a huge screen on stage. As we waited for it to start, a great selection of songs played and the Conan logo was projected on the screen. Signs in the lobby instructed us to use the hashtag #pimpbot when tweeting about the night’s show, which turned out to be awesome.
The opening act was Reggie Watts, and he was seriously awesome. His humor was totally right for a theater full of Conan fans, too. In addition to normal kind of stand-up, and weird stand-up, he also sang and played some music and made weird sound effects and used a looping machine to make actually really full sounding songs. He was great. If he’s back in the area I’d definitely go see him.
The show itself was structured a lot like a regular Conan TV episode (of whatever show you think he should host). The full band (minus Max Weinberg, who hasn’t been on this tour) came out and played an awesome rendition of Curtis Mayfield’s “Move on Up,” which I love because it’s so upbeat. Most of the musicians came out into the audience and walked around the whole place while playing. Then there was a video showing what Conan was doing two months ago – mainly, growing a beard, getting fat, wandering around his house, and drinking a lot of wine. His daughter was in a couple shots (“Mom! Daddy smells like pee!”). Then he gets a phone call asking if he can get in shape to do a 32-city tour, so there’s a montage of him exercising, including just pulling off his fat suit, haha!
Conan came on stage and did a bit of a monologue. He talked about what he’s been doing, things he legally can’t do (e.g. he might not be able to use his name, Conan O’Brien, because it may actually be owned by NBC, so he might switch back to his original name – Jet Blaze!), etc. There were lots of Philly jokes thrown in – for example, they brought out a giant cheesesteak, made fun of Upper Darby, and showed a video of Triumph with obviously dubbed-in jokes (things like the real rush hour is when they give away free track suits in South Philadelphia). Andy Richter came out and they had some banter as well. Also, Conan explained that he’d used half their budget to buy this giant inflatable bat from the Meatloaf “Bat Out of Hell” tour, which turned out to be harmless looking, but they had this giant bat on stage, which was hilarious. And he had one of the writers from his show come out and do a bit of stand-up.
There were several musical interludes where Conan got to indulge his inner musician by playing guitar. I forget everything that was played, though based on video clips I’ve seen (just on the news and stuff), it seems like they do generally the same songs at every show. He did a cover of Cake’s cover of “I Will Survive” (except it was changed to be about getting fired from NBC), “On the Road Again” (but it was changed to be about getting “my own show again”), a couple Elvis songs, a cover of The White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army” with extremely heavy bass, and a few more. He had two backup singers called The Coquettes, and it was a shame they didn’t get to do more because in one of the last numbers they really did get to belt out a couple solos, and they were awesome!
Like all the shows on this tour, there were special guests. GG kept saying he felt like Tina Fey would be there, considering Upper Darby is her hometown. Rumors were flying around Twitter that it was John Bon Jovi, Danny DeVito, or even Lady Gaga, but then they brought out Trey Anastasio from Phish to play some pothead Phish song about moving to Alaska or something. Whatever, people seemed to enjoy it.
They then brought out the Walker Texas Ranger Lever, which for legal reasons is now the Chuck Norris Rural Policeman Handle. He pulled it a couple times, then called out another special guest… None other than Tina Fey! She first did it “Upper Darby style,” which meant she pushed the lever with her butt. Then she did it a couple more times, ending on the infamous clip of Haley Joel Osment saying, “Walker told me I have AIDS.” (They play that clip a lot on the local radio show Preston & Steve, and I don’t know if this helped or hurt the response to the clip, but I personally found it slightly less funny/shocking just because I hear it all the time.)
They ended with another musical number, but then of course the crowd kept cheering so they brought Conan out to play some more. He played a song called “40 Days” on an acoustic guitar, and then ran up and down every aisle of the theater (including in the balcony), except ours! I think GG was disappointed he didn’t get to touch him. After that, the house lights came back up and everyone streamed out of there.
In the car on the way home, GG mentioned that he saw the girl in front of him texting or tweeting negative things the whole night, including about “the annoying guy behind [her].” So guess what – I found her (and her boyfriend) on Twitter and tweeted them back. Nothing like defending your husband on the internet!