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About (Late) Last Night: Conan O'Brien keeps kicking TBS

November 16, 2010 |  6:18 am

Conan O'Brien started week two of "Conan" the same way he started week one: by mocking his new network, TBS. Basic cable just can't cut it after NBC, at least according to the half-smug, half-scorned act O'Brien has been running for miles now, since his exit from "The Tonight Show" last winter.

After trying on a fake red beard (over his real red beard) from an audience member, O'Brien's monologue began on a familiar note. "Can you believe it? We're into week two of the new show," he said. "I think the folks at TBS really liked week one because I overheard one of them describe it as not just good, but 'According to Jim' good. In their world, that's huge."

But that doesn't mean he isn't grateful for the audience that followed him to the TV graveyard. O'Brien was beginning to tell a joke about airport security when a loud laugh interrupted him. He had yet to say anything funny.

"That's how nice my life is now," he said, deviating from the script. "I kill with the set-ups to jokes." He did a little dance.

After another well-received joke and small bit of physical humor, O'Brien humbled himself. "Don't encourage that kind of crap," he said to the audience. "You're like bad parents."

Like an old O'Brien monologue, the best parts were not the prepared jokes, but the host's interjections, interactions and watching him handle his unruly body. He bobs around stage and mimes exaggerated movements like an eager child begging for attention in his living room, but it works and he commands the stage. He's so comfortable already that if you will yourself not to see the logo, it could almost be NBC.

-- Joe Coscarelli