Presidential runner-up to host Late Night?

By Patrick Burke

Having become increasingly aware of his showbiz mortality as of late, Jay Leno recently announced that he would be ending his term as host of NBC’s Tonight Show by the year 2009. Leno’s replacement is to be none other than Harvard-educated former Simpsons writer Conan O’Brien. Conan’s acceptance of Leno’s job, of course, opens up a hosting position at NBC’s edgier, zestier Late Night. There is no question that comedic savant O’Brien can make Kevin Eubanks laugh uncontrollably and effectively read typos in regional newspapers to a live audience of designer coffee-buzzed Angelinos. The real question is whom NBC could possibly find to replace a man of Conan O’Brien’s caliber? NBC simply cannot pass the Late Night torch onto some effervescent run-of-the-mill comedian harvested from Saturday Night Live with a propensity for breaking the fourth wall who has a few good impressions (i.e. Jimmy Fallon). The brilliance of Conan’s comedy is that it is not constrained by underlying logic, consistency, forethought, postcolonial angst, or shame.

Knowing full well they cannot replicate Conan O’Brien’s comedic genius, NBC executives have sought to reproduce his uniqueness in Late Night’s new host. By finding a remarkably unusual host NBC may very possibly be able to fill the formidable O’Brien gap. As to whom the TV mega-conglomerate has determined to possess sufficient novelty, the candidates have been narrowed down to two Yale grads. To elaborate, NBC has decided to enlist the runner-up in the 2004 presidential election as the new host of Late Night. Max Weinberg, leader and drummer for the Late Night band, when questioned as to which presidential candidate he believed fitter to be Conan’s replacement, ambiguously nodded and smiled. When questioned again a few seconds later for clarification purposes, Weinberg countered with yet another mysterious nod and smile combo. Making his position on the subject of the new host even murkier, Weinberg was spotted recently at a Ralph Nader rally. Actually, upon hearing about NBC’s proposal, the Green Party candidate immediately wrote a letter to NBC top exec Jeff Zucker imploring him for the job. Zucker’s office responded by emphasizing NBC’s no-tolerance drug policy for late night hosts but encouraged Nader to audition for the part of one of Late Night’s many recurring characters.

Neither believing they have a lock on the upcoming presidential election, both Kerry and Bush have begun to work on material for their potential jobs in late night entertainment. To compliment his dry wit and elitism, Kerry has selected the former writers of the highly acclaimed, little-watched comedy Sports Night to comprise his writing staff. Seeking a writing staff that reflects both his grassroots American values and dynamic self-righteousness, Bush has commissioned the former writers of Full House and Walker, Texas Ranger. In addition, both presidential candidates have prepared hypothetical guest lists. Kerry’s list is topped by rich and famous liberals such as Ben Affleck and Meryl Streep as well as a token, controversial liberal: Snoop Dog. Bush’s list consists of his father’s entire former cabinet and interestingly enough, Hillary Clinton.

The installation of a prime political figure in a late night variety show surely represents a milestone in the revolutionary union between mass media and democracy. Whether it is President Bush or Senator Kerry that is destined to continue Conan’s legacy, a victory for the democratic process is assured. Although neither potential host for Late Night can ever hope to imitate Conan’s famous crazy prospector dance, it is within the realm of their abilities to expedite the enfranchisement of unemployed insomniacs everywhere.