Thursday, October 27, 2011

Conan O'Brien Can't Stop: If you don't applaud, he'll die

Looks like he's having fun, right?
There have been a few films that make the argument that comedians are driven by a toxic and magical mix of aggression, narcissism, and self-loathing (Funny People and The King of Comedy come to mind), but I can't recall a documentary that makes that point as explicitly as Conan O'Brien Can't Stop. The title is meant to be taken quite literally--it's a portrait of comedy as addiction; the Tinkerbell metaphor is his, not mine.

The beard Conan sports during the doc is a marker of the evil/angry persona that he quite readily admits has come to the forefront since NBC's notorious fubar handling of "The Tonight Show" after Leno's ersatz "retirement." Due to being banned from television and the Internet once he refused to take the show he had dreamed of hosting to a later time slot, Coco went on the road with a 44-date comedy tour entitled "Legally Prohibited from Being Funny on Television." And he took his rage as a carry-on.

The film includes clips from what seems to be a hilarious concert interspersed with Conan working out his demons by and through verbally eviscerating himself and whoever else happens to be in the vicinity. By the end of the film, his haggard face make a pretty bleak argument for why they call them "laugh lines." Needless to say, it made me crush on him all the more.

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