About (Late) Last Night: Conan and Jon Hamm out-charm Leno and Christine O'Donnell [video]
While Conan O'Brien's first two monologues felt a bit stilted -- bogged down with jokes about network politics -- his interviews have been as smooth and funny as ever. The man is comfortable behind a desk, no matter who owns it, and his TBS celebrity sit-downs have the same casual charm of vintage Conan. It's almost as if his guests actually like him.
It sure seemed that way with Jon Hamm on Wednesday night. O'Brien and the "Mad Men" star played off of each other to hilarious effect. O'Brien first asked Hamm about, what else, his good looks, and the actor set up the host like a pro.
"It's funny when they put very fancy clothes on you and you have 400 people attending to your hair and makeup how handsome you can become," Hamm said. Countered Conan: "I have not found that to be true. We have people working on me with hydraulic machinery for hours."
When Hamm spoke of being injured on the set of "Mad Men," some "awws" came in from the crowd. "Oh, the ladies are loving this," said O'Brien bitterly. Women in the crowd catcalled, and though it was ostensibly for Hamm, it demonstrated O'Brien's influence on his audience. He sets the mood and pleasant vibes abound.
Hamm felt comfortable making cracks, too. "There are very uncool clothing styles coming up," said O'Brien of "Mad Men." "What are you gonna do?"
"We're gonna end the show," said Hamm without missing a beat. "There will be no fringe."
Meanwhile, back at "The Tonight Show," Jay Leno and Christine O'Donnell flopped. The failed Senate candidate from Delaware just could not sync up to the host, resulting in an awkward mess of missed connections.
The talk focused on politics, but O'Donnell sounded like she was still campaigning. Leno asked about her past as a Democrat and wondered what changed. "Did you get rich?" he asked. "I wised up," O'Donnell said. There was too much posturing.
Multiple times during the interview, Leno's previous guest David Spade, who sat behind O'Donnell, mocked her to the audience. Karl Rove, O'Donnell was saying, avoided the green room of "The Today Show" when they both appeared. "Typical Karl," said Spade sarcastically. He shrugged to the crowd.
Leno did nothing to alleviate the discomfort, neither siding with Spade and the audience to mock O'Donnell, in the Letterman mold, or working to make her feel secure in her spot, as Conan might have. Leno unsuccessfully playing the middle was another reminder that Conan is at his best when he can be himself.
-- Joe Coscarelli
See Leno with O'Donnell below.