Apr 20, 2010

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again — unless you’re Conan

by Abby Armbruster

Despite January’s bloody late night talk show battle, Conan O’Brien chose to don his bruised breastplate this week and walk back into the coliseum with a similar late night plan, which is bound to leave him in a pulpy, gory mess.

O’Brien’s return to late night television comes with the same swings and punches that Conan the Barbarian has trusted for more than 10 years. His 11 p.m. show, premiering on TBS this November, has critics raving about the announcement. Team CoCo, as his supporters are now dubbed, is comprised of a vast number of college students. The new endeavor will most likely fizzle into another failed battle in the competitive gauntlet of late night.

O’Brien has found immense success since leaving his show in early 2010, including a nearly sold-out comedy tour and Twitter fellowship with his fans.

Once O’Brien dropped his sword and breastplate, fans were quick to blame the Goliath gladiator himself, Jay Leno, for the loss of the Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien, which only ran for seven months.

Now, with America on his side, Barbarian and Team CoCo have raised awareness on the cutthroat late night war, shining a light on the supposed anguish of O’Brien’s life, though he left with a fat $45 million paycheck in his pocket.

Since O’Brien’s television absence, he has made himself known on Twitter, gaining a record-breaking fan base of 15,000 followers in the first half-hour, according to The Huffington Post.

O’Brien then announced his 30-date comedy tour which began in Eugene, Ore., April 12. The tour is nearly sold out, with additional chances to meet O’Brien offered at some of the shows, including $2,000 VIP seating.

While this success is good for the man who was stabbed in the back by a network that employed him for over 20 years, the move to TBS will most likely end similarly to the Tonight Show, despite O’Brien’s long war.

Many people bashed the sudden wave of Team CoCo supporters because if they were such a strong force, why did they not watch the show and produce higher ratings in the first place? If the ratings were high enough to sustain the Tonight Show, Leno would not have a chance to return to his familiar spot at 11:30 p.m.

Instead of trying to resurrect his warrior on TBS, O’Brien should stick with what is reeling in the money now: comedy tours and Twitter updates. If O’Brien tweets about a certain Web site or product, he will guarantee a stir in activity for his now 839,937 followers.

O’Brien should drop the sword and shield now and wave a white flag to the other late night predators who await O’Brien’s fall. As soon as O’Brien makes the wrong move in battle, Leno, Letterman, Kimmell and Ferguson will stab his show in the heart for another bittersweet loss.

As much as O’Brien’s strong viewership seems unbreakable, many people are returning to their normal lives without backing O’Brien in his battles against corporate conspirators.

A new leaf has been turned for O’Brien with the comedy tour, and the success has been sweet so far. While the iron is hot in alternative comedy routines, why strike again in television where the pickings are slim? O’Brien should quit while he is ahead and leave his television history where it is – in the past. After being back at the late night TV slot for a few months, the downward spiral of ratings will repeat itself. Does O’Brien have the strength to win this next battle against the other giants, or should O’Brien leave the coliseum for good? Only time, and the bruises, will tell.

Contact Abby Armbruster at

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