What Conan O'Brien should not do during the debut of 'Conan' on TBS
"I feel like I have something to do tonight that I keep forgetting."
So tweeted Conan O'Brien earlier today in an obvious attempt at levity on what has got to be one of the most anxiety-inducing days of his life. In less than 12 hours, everyone's favorite red-headed advocate for insulting-dog-puppets and masturbating bears will launch his new TBS talk show, "Conan." And after all the hullabaloo about whether he should or should not have walked away from his "Tonight Show" gig, O'Brien really needs to prove he can still hold his own as a host -- and that he was worth every bit of time and energy the members of Team Coco devoted to him over the past several months.
O'Brien is a smart guy who is undoubtedly surrounded by equally intelligent people advising him about how to handle his debut. So naturally, we feel compelled to butt our noses into O'Brien's affairs and point out the things he should absolutely avoid doing during tonight's program. Because, you know, we're also professional comedians who once hosted "The Tonight Show" and previously wrote for "The Simpsons," and therefore, we know best.
Our suggestions after the jump...
Tweet Will you tune in tonight? Do you have any predictions for Conan's new show? Tweet @celebritology with the hash tag #stillwithcoco to respond.
1. Don't make too many Jay Leno jokes. It's impossible for O'Brien to completely avoid the mega-chinned elephant in the room. But we hope he doesn't expend too much sarcastic energy on Leno gags. This is the time for O'Brien to redefine himself, not keep harping on the past. Plus, too much "NBC execs are such meanies" humor will start to sound like bellyaching, and critics will pounce on him for that, as some did after his "60 Minutes" interview this year.
2. Don't host the show in a conference room and promote Diet Coke constantly. Or, to put it another way, don't do anything that remotely resembles last week's poorly received "Show Zero," the online trial run for tonight's big event. We're hoping that whole episode winds up becoming another example of that old stage adage: lousy dress rehearsal, great performance. Plus too many Diet Coke references could tick off the people at American Express, who put you in this epic commercial.
3. Don't do a dorky "Glee" number: The temptation is so great, with Lea Michele being a guest on the show and all. But please, we beg you: no Journey, no Rocky Horror, no show tunes. If you want to perform with musical guest the White Stripes, on the other hand, we're all in favor of that.
4. Don't spend a lot of time talking about your Twitter account: We can all agree that your Twitter feed is essential reading. But don't do a regular segment on it. Fallon's already got that covered.
5. Don't refer to fellow TBS late-nighter George Lopez. Bottom line: Lopez's show is miles away from funny. It's fine that you now share TBS's airwaves, but that doesn't mean you have to share valuable "Conan" time with the guy, even if he did offer you an olive branch by recently inviting you on his show. Do your own thing, and let Lopez continue doing his.
6. Don't confuse your frenemies. The Wrap makes the argument that neither Jay Leno nor David Letterman is your biggest competition. Who is? A guy who last weekend drew upward of 200,000 people to the Mall: Jon Stewart.
7. Don't lose the beard. Sure, it would be all stunt-y to suddenly appear fresh-faced or to actually have your beard shaved off on the air (maybe by first guest Arlene Wagner, proprietor of the Leavenworth Nutcracker Museum?). But the beard is part and parcel of your image now. It sets you apart from Leno, Letterman and Stewart. And, hey, if the whole late-night thing doesn't work out, you're all set for Shakespeare summer stock.
8. Don't blow it. We think you know what we mean.
Jen Chaney and Liz Kelly
| November 8, 2010; 12:55 PM ET
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