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Arts & Culture

Notes From A Night With Conan O'Brien

Conan O'Brien performed in front of a sold-out show last night in San Diego.
Conan O'Brien performed in front of a sold-out show last night in San Diego.

A self-pleasuring Panda + "Walker, Texas Ranger" + Insults about LA, Marty Schottenheimer, and the Chicken Pie Shop + a great house band + Special Guest Jason Mraz + brilliant comedy - TV censors = Conan O'Brien's "Legally Prohibited From Being Funny On Television Tour!"

Conan and friends swept into the Civic Center last night and brought the packed house to its feet, cheering and celebrating. Part group therapy, part jam session, part "Night at the Improv," the evening was a joyful celebration of music and comedy and the unbridled power of youth.

Featuring appearances from some old characters and bits - the Masturbating Bear in a Panda costume (the Bear was worried about NBC intellectually property, so he put on the Panda mask), Triumph - insulting our Fine City in fine form via video, and the "Walker, Texas Ranger" Lever - pulled several times to great effect and finishing off with a clip from WTR with guest star Haley Joel Osment saying "Walker told me I have AIDS..." in one of the greatest non sequiturs in the history of recorded thought.

From the opening act (a very talented and hilarious Reggie Watt), the tone was set for the evening: a combination of off-kilter humor and awesome musical talent. When Conan hit the stage the audience erupted with joy and energy.

Think about it - we, the folks in the crowd, created the tour by shear force of will - supporting Coco all over the internet as NBC was taking him down and proving to him (and his sponsors) that there is an very large audience that will follow him anywhere.

The Team Coco movement was and continues to be grassroots - it couldn't be faked or manufactured. Much like a political campaign it has taken on a life all its own and means a great deal to everyone who contributes - mostly by talking about Coco on Facebook and Twitter (by the way, you know we are living in a new media world when there were signs as we entered asking that if we were going to tweet about the show, please use the #palemale hashtag). It seemed like everyone in the crowd had a smart phone and was live blogging, tweeting or facebooking about the show.

The main through line of the performance was, surprisingly, not comedy but music. Conan, an avid music fan, is a fair musician himself - jamming with the band on some numbers and ending the show with a cover of Cake's cover of "I Will Survive."

At one point he ran through the audience with his guitar - standing on some seats in the orchestra section to pluck out a few notes. The audience went nuts and Conan, well, I don't think I've seen someone that full of joy in a long, long time.

Now that we know he will be returning to TV on TBS in the fall, I'm a bit disappointed - I think the tour could be repeated often to bigger and bigger crowds. Let's hope that Coco will be returning to San Diego sometime soon. As he said, at least we have an NFL team and better weather than LA!