The Team Coco presents The Conan Writers Live was a big hit last night at Chicago's Bank of America Theater, but I can tell you that perhaps it was too much of a big hit.
The show, hosted by Andy Richter and featuring musical wonders from Reggie Watts, included stand-up sets from eight of the writers for Conan O'Brien's short-lived edition of The Tonight Show on NBC. But there's only room for six of them to perform on the 60-minute special, set to air on TBS at 10 p.m. Sunday, June 27. So who will make the cut? What if they all performed well during the taping? Couldn't TBS just extend the special to 90 minutes if it's all "very funny"? The special debuts late on a Sunday after the Ellen DeGeneres variety special, so it's not as if they're going to push anything major off the air to make do. A quick look at the schedule listings for June 27 shows that TBS plans to immediately repeat both Ellen and Coco, followed by a 1 a.m. rebroadcast of the movie, Vegas Vacation. I'm sure Chevy wouldn't mind getting bumped, right?
As for the show itself, it was more than a little heartwarming to see the audience immediately take to Watts even before the taping itself began. I had to scramble to find a seat because my seat in Row G had been (mild spoiler alert?) occupied by a young Conan doppelganger.
Host Andy Richter explained onstage that since Conan himself cannot be on the special — due to the terms he negotiated upon his exit from NBC — that meant his writers would get to have this time in the limelight. "Tonight they get to tell their dick jokes in their own voices!" Richter boasted.
Except now it looks like two of them might not get to be seen on TV. That's not fun. To add to the awkwardness, none of "The Conan Writers" actually have jobs with TBS yet. Yes. You read that right. TBS has signed Conan, but since he, Richter and some of his writers have been spending their entire spring on a North American theater tour, the budgeting for the new late-night show on TBS has not included hiring any of the writers. Of course, you'd suspect that anyone Conan brought along on his official "Team Coco" tour and branded on the TV as "The Conan Writers" would be reasonably assured of a full-time writing job in the fall. Just like you'd reasonably think they'd get their time on TV next weekend. Right? Right???
UPDATED: For those of you wondering, the eight sets did not include any of the sketch performers from Conan's various late-night TV shows, but did include Matt O'Brien, Jimmy Pardo, Josh Comers, Brian Kiley, Andres du Bouchet, Dan Cronin, Deon Cole and a Reggie Watts set.