Friday, October 07, 2005

In the year 2000 (plus nine)

While waiting for the U2/Conan spectacular last night, I caught Jon Stewart on Letterman for what was perhaps the first real sign of the passing of the "Late Show" torch.

Stewart seemed comfortable and particularly chummy with Letterman as the two exchanged cute punchlines about their young children. But the highlight for me was Stewart's swipe at Tom DeLay. I have to paraphrase here, but it was something like:

"His face says innocent; his body language says not guilty; his hair says, 'What do I have to do for you to leave in this Buick LeSabre?' "

Nice. I then flipped over to NBC for Conan's fantastic U2 show, which featured solid (albeit overplayed) recent U2 songs and actual attempts to speak with Larry Mullen and Adam Clayton. There was even an "In The Year 2000" skit with The Edge and Bono each donning the requisite black frock. The Edge said that in the year 2000, it would be revealed that "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" was inspired by the band's failed supermarket search for Boo-Berry cereal.

A good night for late night comedy. But then I started to bum out upon the realization that I'd have to pick between the two if there were a O'Brien-Stewart showdown in 2009, when Conan is expected to succeed Jay Leno as host of "The Tonight Show." Unlike the easy comedic choice to pick Letterman over Leno, choosing between Stewart and O'Brien makes me sad just thinking about it.

On top of all this, a feud appears to be simmering. Check out this segment from page two of an Oct. 3 New York magazine story:

[If] you want to get on O’Brien’s good side, do not bring up Jon Stewart (who failed at his own late-night show in 1994), as it makes him bristle at the unfairness of Stewart’s comedic hegemony—he won two Emmys last week—for a far less complex, toilsome, and popular show, at 1.4 million viewers per night. Stewart’s contract is up in 2008 (though Viacom could conceivably move him from Comedy Central to CBS whenever the need arose), setting the stage for a potentially sensational grudge match.

Gun to my head, I'd probably pick Conan. Although Stewart's political commentary is more biting, I probably prefer Conan because of his consistently edgier, more out-of-the-box comedy -- ironically, more like Letterman in that respect than Leno.


Bubba, Bubba, Bubba! said...

God man, it's Stewart hands down.