The Conan Initiative

I remember discovering Conan sometime while I was in early high school. Being the late night girl that I am, I have always enjoyed late night tv. It’s my time to unwind and laugh a little as I contemplate dosing off. I started watching Conan one night and found myself laughing out loud. His first appearance each night with the classic “slow run” and his self-deprecating humor was hilarious to me. I loved his dry wit and quirkiness, the constant jokes about his Irish descent, the way his red hair poofed and flopped as he laughed at our favorite Max Weinberg band character, LaBamba, and the dynamic between he and Andy Richter. I felt like I was in on a secret—that me and maybe a few others were watching one of the funniest things out there. Even then, I felt like he was underappreciated and deserved more recognition.

I noticed early on the way that he interacts with his guests. They love him. He has an ease with each guest, while making them laugh the whole time. He can turn every awkward instance into something great, and he’s not afraid to pull out some random stunt with any of them. I think they genuinely have a good time with him, and I think they appreciate the more eccentric nature of the show and the high-brow comedy.

Don’t get me wrong. I do like Jay Leno. I have grown up watching him as well. He and Kevin Eubanks have been a favorite late night duo of mine. However, I think icons do best when they go out on top. It doesn’t mean that his career has to be over, but I think there could be other options for him. It’s time for him to step out gracefully, and let this man finish his job. However, we know that too much is at stake for both of them now, so that’s not going to happen.

To add to my rant—I’m a fan of commitment. NBC gave Conan this gig. They didn’t have to do that (I know, contracts, blah, blah, blah). You and I both know that contracts can be broken. Ultimately, they gave him this, and I don’t think they should just rip out the rug from underneath him. I know that numbers are an issue, but numbers will also show that the younger audience has a strong preference for him. Conan has taken over social media, where the effort by the younger audience has been substantial. posted an article this week, “Conan Wins the Hearts and Minds of the Internet,” and his letter reiterating his decision to say “no” to NBC’s offer to push him back to a later slot following Jay has won the hearts of his viewing audience even more.

My question for NBC: Okay, you bring Leno back. What happens in a couple of years when the luster is gone, he feels too stuffy for the younger audience, and he really gets ready to retire? Who moves up then? No, the time is now. It’s time for him to leave and for Conan to build up The Tonight Show. He is completely capable and should certainly be given more than seven months to prove himself.

Unfortunately, NBC is probably not thinking about the future. They are thinking about after The Olympics, and they are thinking now. I’m not sure what will happen, but I felt compelled to start my own initiative for my favorite late night host.

What can a lowly designer in Alabama do for him, you say? Well, I realized that he was a top trending subject on Twitter, and has been since the subject was brought public. There have been thousands of posts concerning he and The Tonight Show, and the hashtag #TeamConan is wildly popular. As a result, I thought that I could make a “team Conan” logo that could be passed around. People could use it as their Twitter avatars (or profile pics for you non-twitterers).

You can grab one of your own for Twitter here.

I made a corresponding poster that people could grab, use, pass around, whatever. I could get t-shirts printed on a popular site,, and people would buy it. Team Conan would take off, and thousands of people could join. I could help save The Tonight Show. Conan would call me, request to fly me out to LA, and interview me on the show. What would I wear? What would I say? Could I make it through an interview without laughing at him the entire time? Would I trip and fall as the band played for me to walk out?

Okay…this is what happens when we “get carried away with our imaginations.” That is what we like to call a day dream. The reality is that I have not been contacted by The Tonight Show. I submitted a t-shirt design for approval to and got rejected. Apparently you can’t put a celebrity’s face on a shirt, even if it’s your artwork (legal issues, law-suits and such). Oh, big deal. So what, NBC is going to sue me if it gets printed? If it’s for Conan…bring it!! (Just kidding. My dad just freaked when I said that. Good thing my boyfriend is a lawyer…just in case I get sued). At any rate, here is my t-shirt concept.

The avatars haven’t caught on world-wide yet, but I have gotten several responses from people, and several have grabbed it and used it as their own. I have gotten a few new followers with my Conan head as their profile pic. I may not make it to The Tonight Show, but if I ever run into Conan on one of my California adventure trips, I will be sure to tell him that I supported him whole-heartedly and that I tried to start an initiative. Luckily, a few other initiatives have been started as well, so maybe my goal will be reached by some other (click here to see one). Hopefully, all of this mess will settle, and I will still get to watch my favorite host for years to come. Good luck, Conan. I wish you well.

Sara Beth Parks is a designer, Southern girl, and lover of all things beautiful, currently writing of her journey with art, design, and life on this blog, “My Latest Buzz.”

1 Comment

  1. Anne Elise Parks 01/20/2010 / 3:17 pm

    Bravo!!! Well done, Sista! Conan would completely appreciate your hardwork and stance to support him. As for NBC, good luck trying to improve their ratings. I have a feeling the spiraling cycle down has only begun. Love you!

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