The last time Scott and I went to Radio City Music Hall, we saw Peter Gabriel harness a spotlight with a mirrored power glove and bathe the crowd in its reflected light beam, backed by an orchestra, just days after this whole thing. So the first NYC stop of Conan’s Legally Prohibited From Being On Television Tour had a lot of work to do; it’s a good thing that most everything it did worked. The show opened with the tongue-twisting beat-boxing absurdist sorcerer Reggie Watts. Not so long ago I was watching him at Sound Fix records at the Big Terrific comedy show with like six people in the crowd; what’s amazing isn’t that he’s gone from a Williamsburg back room to sets at Radio City in such a short period of time (see him once and you saw it coming), but that he’s equally capable of flooring a room of six strangers to his comedy as he is to 6,000.
The legitimate indie rock angle to this post comes, of course, per that headline: We’ve seen Coco cover “Creep” on this comedy tour, and know he’s brought out Eddie Vedder at the Seattle leg, so that a “surprise” was coming wasn’t really much of one. But nabbing Vampire Weekend during one of their rare weeks off in the city, didn’t see that coming. They played “Walcott” together, with Conan doing something or other on guitar. The band was introduced by O’Brien as “one of my favorite bands,” though the crowd, despite their uniform of spectacles and cardigans, didn’t greet them as quite the same. The even bigger surprises, and the louder cheers, came for the rapid-fire string of the night’s other guests: Stephen Colbert engaging in a dance-off (and near lip-smack) with Conan (with special guest hora-dancer Jon Stewart), and a slate of comedy heartthrobs thereafter pulling the Walker Texas Ranger lever: Bill Hader, Paul Rudd, and John Krasinski. The whole night had an inherent bittersweetness, Conan constantly referring to the show taking place a mere 200 feet from his old bosses at 30 Rock (“If you listen closely, you can hear them adding a ninth hour to the Today show”), and in terms of stacking with P. Gabes in making a memory, O’Brien’s gangly legs and self-deprecating brilliance makes for a hungry hippocampus. Until that TBS show, here’s Conan on “Walcott,” and the late-night Comedy Central/TBS dance-off:
It wasn’t all perfect, of course: the Coco cover songs throughout the night probably didn’t need to number so many, and the less said about the interstitial standup set from the Tonight Show staff writer (Conan said to “remember that name,” meanwhile I refuse to use it), the better. But it was all redeemed by the triumph that was Triumph (if I can find video, you’ll see it).
Conan does one more show at Radio City tonight before continuing on with the rest of his Legally Prohibited From Being Funny On Television Tour. Maybe you’ll see him at Bonnaroo, where admittedly it is much harder to hold on to memories. Because of drugs, is what I’m saying.
For a more in-depth look at last night, try Gabe’s review over at Videogum.
UPDATE: OK, footage is surfacing. Here is Triumph’s #triumph: