Well, if you saw Wednesday night's "Late Night with Conan O'Brien," you know that Conan got stood up by one very important, previously promised guest: frisbee golf national champion David Feldberg. I'm sure Mr. Feldberg is a busy man — frolf is a very big deal, after all — but really. Couldn't he have taken just a few minutes out of his jam-packed schedule to chat with my favorite red-haired comedian?
As a result, I only got to see one guest at my first live "Conan" taping: Robin Williams, the Bay Area's resident jokester and accent-doer, who's always a good on a talk show. My favorite part of his interview came when he launched into an imitation of a couple of the birds from Discovery's "Planet Earth" series.
But the best part of being at "Conan" was just seeing what goes on behind the scenes at a live taping, so for more (and a video of one of my favorite moments) read more
First of all, the crowd was much more raucous in person than you could hear or see on TV. I know it's San Francisco, and we tend to be fairly celebrity-deprived. But honestly, from the reaction when Conan arrived on set, you'd think we'd never seen a famous person before. By the time Conan tried to calm the crowd by pretending to go to sleep on stage, we'd been cheering for a steady five minutes, at least.
I'm not sure how many people fit into the Orpheum Theatre ("San Francisco's finest theater, in its 25th finest neighborhood"), but considering my spot in line was a city block away, there were lots of us. The line zigzagged back and forth, and students from one of the local universities walked around selling the orange foam "hair" that Conan briefly wore on TV. When we finally were let into the theater, I discovered I'd be sitting way up in the balcony, in the next-to-last row; the woman behind me actually used binoculars.
Here were some of the other things I noticed:
- The fake Golden Gate Bridge is so much more impressive than it looks on TV. I mean, it's huge!
- Conan's clearly taken his trip to San Francisco seriously; on Wednesday he paid homage to local grocery and music stores, infamous neighborhoods, and — of course — the cable car. Then there was this charming tribute to a local hole-in-the-wall eatery:
- I'd never really appreciated the Max Weinberg Seven before, but they're actually totally awesome. At one point the trumpeter held a single note for what seemed like an impossibly long time. Rock on, Max Seven.
- The San Francisco interview set — desk, couch, chair, end table — is all on a big platform that the crew rolled out after the opening monologue, then rolled away again before the Glide Ensemble performed.
- Because Robin Williams was the only guest, it was a pretty clip-happy show. During the clips, Conan mostly just paced around the stage, occasionally cracking up at one of the jokes.
- The taping actually pauses to leave room for commercial breaks. During one of them, Conan broke into a pretty elaborate dance routine for us.
- At one point, the taping stopped for an extra-long time. Conan, who'd been poised to introduce the musical group from the center of the bridge, kept looking at his watch and even giving exaggerated "I don't know!" shrugs to the audience. At one point, he even dropped to the ground and did a few push-ups, just to get the energy in the room back up.
- After the show, Conan stuck around for a while, signing foam hair and posters, but the crew ushered him offstage after about five minutes. Max hung out for longer.
I'm going back for today's taping with Randy Jackson and Patton Oswalt, so I'll be back tomorrow with the scoop!