Volume 96, Issue 86
Thursday, March 13, 2003

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Forget studying: try Conan
Illustration by Christopher Hodge

Mark Polishuk
Gazette Staff

Over the next month, we'll be killing ourselves with studying and essay writing. This can only mean one thing: it's time for an examination of the world's greatest study break – late-night TV. Anybody can watch one or two shows, but it takes a true master to watch all five.

11:37 – Jay Leno's opening credits. Unless Jay has some big-time guests or the Jaywalking bit (ignorant people = hilarity), ignore Leno altogether.

11:40 – Over to Dave. The half-hour long desk routines can be hit-and-miss, but he can turn around a lame sketch by making the skit's failure the joke itself.

11:47 – Back to Leno. His monologue only needs Bastien and a flying dog to become The Neverending Story III. I feel sorry for Jay, but every once in a while he gets in an edgy joke that makes you think that he's more than a generic corporate shill.

12:01 – Top 10 list: only four will be funny.

12:07 – The new kid, Jimmy Kimmel. The writing is uneven, the guests are generally B-listers, and the gimmick of having a new co-host every week can either prove to be great (Snoop Dogg) or a five-day disaster (Adam Carolla). Other than that, it's pretty good. Give Kimmel another month before he joins the regular rotation.

12:11 – Leno is just about the worst interviewer ever. He barely listens to his guests and he always seems to be thinking of something else ("I hate my life, I hate my life..."). Dave barely knows his guests' names, but that's part of his charm. Bonus points when Julia Roberts is on, as Dave's obvious lust freaks her out.

12:37 – It's Conan O'Brien time. You could do worse than keeping the channel here for the rest of the night, since Conan is the funniest of them all. He recycles a lot of the same jokes, but nothing can top his routine of jumping in front of the camera like a big cat. Conan can also make just about any interview funny, no matter how dull the guest. He even had a good talk with Al freakin' Gore.

12:42 – Over to Craig Kilborn. I used to hate Craiggers, but his incredible smugness is growing on me. His routine about rating movies based only on their posters is gold.

1:05 – Kilborn's always entertaining "Five Questions" bit. The worst score of all time is one correct answer, shared between (among others) Kathy Ireland, Juliette Lewis and William Shatner.

1:11 – Conan's between-guests comedy bit. This will either be the funniest, most random thing you've ever seen, or the stupidest – or, perhaps a combination of all three. Ah, the masturbating bear.

1:37 – And now, if you're still up, Carson Daly. Translation: get back to the essay.


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