Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Tuesday, March 10, 2021

In noting that Andy Richter’s upcoming reunion with Conan O’Brien as sidekick on “The Tonight Show” represents more of an exception than a trend, NYT’s Alessandra Stanley pinpoints why the onscreen TV wingman is now superfluous:

But the demise of the second banana is also a fallout of the interactive age. Now that everyone feels entitled to a say — by blog, text message or call-in vote to “American Idol” — the audience has become the sidekick. Laughter and applause come on command, then a chosen few in the studio are rewarded with humbling on-camera cameos, whether it’s dancing with Ellen DeGeneres, turning stupid pet tricks with [David] Letterman or licking a lawn mower on [Jimmy] Fallon’s show.

So we’re all just a bunch of second bananas, reacting to the performers on-stage — whether that stage is television, YouTube, blog, or whatever. And since that reaction is broadcast for public consumption, it’s reinterpreted as participation in the extended whole. You don’t have to tell me: The tagline that I fashioned for this here blog — “Read. React. Repeat.” — is a paean to the Digital Age back-and-forth. (Sorta.)

As far as late-night specifically: What originally endeared me to “Late Night with Conan O’Brien” was, in fact, the re-introduction of the sidekick on that show. And since the O’Brien-Richter matchup operated more like a collaborative tandem than as the presumed mentor-tutor dynamic (as acknowledged by O’Brien himself), the relationship worked. Frankly, I think the former sharp comedic energy has been lacking since Richter left, and having him back bodes well for an 11:30 version of Conan (sorry, Mr. Letterman).

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 03/10/2021 12:48:32 PM
Category: Celebrity, Internet, Pop Culture, Society, TV
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2 Feedbacks »
  1. I wish the TV late night hosts would re-introduce the concept of “Guest Hosts,” a la Johnny Carson in the 70s. No reruns!

    Comment by david — 03/12/2021 @ 01:33:37 AM

  2. Yeah, now it takes a heart attack (by David Letterman) to see a guest host behind the desk!

    Actually, considering the jockeying from former Tonight Show guest hosts Letterman and Jay Leno did to succeed Johnny Carson, I think everyone involved (especially the hosts) want to avoid that mess repeating itself. Thus no more official guest hosting, just reruns.

    Comment by CT — 03/12/2021 @ 10:15:31 AM

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