“Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop” Review

06Jul11


I live across the street from the Lumiere Theatre (landmarktheatres.com) in San Francisco, and the other night I looked out my window and saw “Conan O’Brien” on the marquee. At this point, I got super excited. I missed Conan when he went on tour after he got booted from The Tonight Show and I thought this was my chance to see him live. It wasn’t. I walked over to the box office to find out what it was, and to get tickets. Turns out it was a movie about his tour. The documentary Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop (conanobriencantstop.com)shows both show material, the making of, and has interviews with Conan himself. Needless to say, I got tickets.

Even though I’m biased, this doc was still great. It showed me a side of Conan I had not previously known, and I really felt like the filmmaker,  Rodman Flender (imdb.com, @RodmanFlender), was able to dig in a little deeper and make it about more than just the tour itself. Before the show started, I was giddy like a school girl going to her first dance. I spent the entire hour and twenty-nine minutes craning my neck, enthralled with the show, captivated. And that’s not something that comes easy for me when watching documentaries.

From the website: “After a much-publicized departure from hosting NBC’s Tonight Show – and the severing of a 22-year relationship with the network – O’Brien hit the road with a 32-city music-and-comedy show to exercise his performing chops and exorcise a few demons. The “Legally Prohibited From Being Funny on Television Tour” was O’Brien’s answer to a contractual stipulation that banned his appearance on television, radio and the Internet for six months following his last show…”

The beginning of the film starts with Conan, and the rest of Team Coco (teamcoco.com), prepping for the tour: writing jokes and songs, playing some music (by the way, I was blown away at how musically talented Conan is), and finding the Cocettes. Once the tour starts, it follows the ensuing whirlwind of improv, sketches, guest stars, and fans. During which, Rodman was able to capture  some of the more intimate moments (Conan being mad).The first thing my girlfriend said after the show was “He’s so good with his kids.” And without the director being able to get so intimate with Conan, these moments would be lost. We see Conan’s family, his friends, and Andy Richter.

From start to finish I was hooked. Even if it wasn’t Coco, I would have still been enthralled. It’s only an hour and a half long, and it’s an amazing show. You laugh, you laugh, you… laugh…

As much as I enjoyed the show, I think a big factor to the enjoyment was the atmosphere. The Lumiere is an independent theatre. Now, I know a lot of people scoff when they hear others rant about “independent media.” (Believe me, I do it too). But, it’s more than just the “independent-ness” of the theatre. Independents tend to screen movies that corporate theatres don’t, or won’t, screen. It’s what makes theatre different from theater. The auditorium we were in had roughly 180 seat in it, no stadium seating, smelled like stale popcorn, and was the perfect environment for seeing this movie. The $8 tickets didn’t hurt much either.

So here’s the long and short of it: support independent theatres, go see Rodman Flenders’s Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop, watch Conan on TBS (it’s actually better than he was on NBC), and tell your friends that Team Coco is watching them.

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