It’s a time-honored NBC upfront tradition: Network talent who come out on stage… and proceed to make jokes at the network’s expense. Most of the time, the jokes get big laughs because, well, they’re kinda true.
This year, it was “Late Night” and future “Tonight Show” host Conan O’Brien’s turn to lob a few at his masters. The company’s ballyhooed “NBC Universal Experience” event — held in lieu of the traditional upfront presentation — earned several cracks.
O’Brien noted that NBC held its upfront at Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall w hen he first joined “Late Night” in 1993; the network eventually also held its presentation at Radio City Music Hall. “Now we’re all standing in a soggy tent outside the NBC store,” noted O’Brien, who suggested that next year’s event be held at a falafel stand in Midtown.
There were references to NBC layoffs: “To give you the true NBC Universal Experience tonight, half of you were let go,” he quipped.
And to NBC’s ratings woes, noting that the net was going to 52-week programming because “we’re tired of coming in fourth only 36 weeks a year.”
Then, making it a bit more personal, he took shots at the long, drawn-out transition process on the “Tonight Show.” When NBC first announced he was taking over the institution, O’Brien said, he was still a sophomore in college.
He then took time out to go ahead and announce his plans to step down as host of “The Tonight Show”… in 2024.
“I’m doing this to spend more time with my third wife,” he joked — presumably to the amusement to his real (first and only) spouse.
— Michael Schneider