Posted tagged ‘late night’

Reflecting on Hip-Hop and Late Night TV…

February 18, 2011

Oh man, television!

Those of you who have the internet (which is most of you as subscriptions for “Popular Opinions: Analog” are at an all time low) have undoubtably had a link to rap outfit Odd Future’s Jimmy Fallon performance in your feed on several occasions over the past 48 hours. This is a good thing as the performance was rightfully fantastic. Seriously. Anyone who disagrees should just hashtag their tweets with #getoffmylawn.

It’s the first post-YouTube Late Night talk show performance that seems to have really broken a group nationally. We all remember in 1997 when Jewel took off seemingly overnight after one performance on Conan. Now that it’s happening again to Tyler, the Creator and Odd Future, let’s take a look at other monumental, and monumentally awkward, Late Night performances.

A Tribe Called Quest f/ Leaders of the New School – “Scenario” on Arsenio

Probably rap’s most famous late night talk show performance, “Scenario” introduced the world to Busta Rhymes and his four minutes of nonstop energy onscreen was enough for Elektra to offer him a four-album solo deal the very next day.

Truth Hurts w/ Rakim – “Contagious” on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno

This performance is nowhere near as monumental, but I post it to represent all the dumb Hip-Hop moments Jay Leno has caused. How many people are involved in the production of his show and NOBODY could tell him how to pronounce Rakim’s name? There was also the sheer bizarreness in 2005 of an intoxicated Lindsay Lohan opting to uncomfortably grind on Juelz Santana. The most absurd of all had to be in 2001 when Trick Daddy and the Slip-N-Slide All Stars performed “Take It to the House” as BACKED BY KC AND THE SUNSHINE BAND! That is not a joke. I am not that clever. That really happened. Good thing Leno redeemed himself by making Kanye cry years later. I love that this particular rip is from the Minnesota ABC affiliate I watched this very performance on.

Atmosphere – “Trying to Find a Balance” on Jimmy Kimmel Live

Kimmel’s show had only been on for about a year at this time and it was somewhat Hip-Hop friendly. The first week of the show he had 50 Cent as a guest and proceeded to print his lyrics out and have the other guests read them aloud. The moment I’ll always remember the show for was Atmosphere’s national television debut in Spring 2004. They’ve had other televised performances since, but this one in particular was all sorts of perfect, particularly for a 17-year-old Minnesotan.


So until next time…let’s agree to agree!


The Late Shift – Movie Review

January 23, 2010

Hey Guys, Great News! Since recent events have made the film somewhat scarce, I’ve worked my Catholic magic to make the entire film watchable here! Excelsior!

To the Break-a Break-a Dawn!

As I type this, it’s the early hours of January 23rd, 2010. A sad night for fans of late night comedy as, on the fifth anniversary of Johnny Carson’s death, Conan O’Brien stepped down as the host of NBC’s “The Tonight Show.” A 60 year tradition, the crown jewel of after hours television has been treasured since the medium reached popularity. Now, a midst a tidal wave of controversy, one of the small screen’s most endearing figures said goodbye to a dream and played guitar into the sunset. With genuine emotion and class, Conan’s farewell was reminiscent of Johnny’s big goodbye back in 1992.

Also reminiscent was the public feuding over “The Tonight Show’s” hosting gig that’s been saturating the media over the past two weeks. From the humiliated executives to the personal digs over the airwaves, the Late Night Wars of 2010 seems like more of a franchise reboot than a sequel. Being a 23-year-old, I didn’t begin following the late show circuit until my parents’ separation meant I only got to see my Father on Wednesday and Friday nights, right around the time “The Late Show with David Letterman” debuted in the fall of ’93* and got to stay up to spend more time with him. I was seven and here was this gleeful grouch in a suit who was unlike anyone on the Fox Kids network lighting up my picture-tube. I became a loyal viewer, so imagine my surprise when I was home sick in the fifth grade and witnessed the war this man survived.

Is this a Joe Camel outtake?

The Late Shift was HBO’s 1996 made-for-premium-cable dramatization of Bill Carter’s book of the same name. Directed by Betty Thomas (Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel) it’s been both celebrated for Kathy Bates’ Golden Globe winning performance as Leno’s cutthroat agent Helen Kushnick as well as ridiculed by David Letterman himself for actor John Michael Higgins’ (Blade: Trinity and the voice of Mentok the Mindtaker on “Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law”) exaggerated mannerisms. Newer “Late Show” fans might not realize that Letterman’s “Hee hee hee” originated from mocking Higgins’ portrayal. Having re-watched the film over the new Taco Bell five layer burrito** two hours before Conan’s final show, I’m happy to report that the best parts are better than I remember and the not-so-best parts are…well…”Hee hee hee!”

The most common criticism of the film is that it doesn’t know whether it wants to be a comedy or drama. While lines aren’t particularly drawn for the first half of the film, that’s exactly why it works. The dramatization isn’t that dramatic, and the comedy isn’t “played for laughs.” Instead, Thomas lets the bizarre chain of events play out as they happened, as the truth is far more absurd than any fiction they could have created. Where the film goes wrong is when it loses faith in its subject matter and throws subtlety out the fake backdrop’s window. The exact moment this happens is when, during an argument with his manager, Leno (Daniel Roebuck, “Lost”) smashes a framed picture of her on his desk and the SINGLE CORNIEST CASIO CHORD IN THE HISTORY OF CINEMA SOUNDS OFF THE DRAMA***! After that, the score becomes TRULY ATROCIOUS. Awful. Suddenly every minor lowlight of the film becomes an inferno of failure, including the nightmare casting of impressionist comedian**** Rich Little as Johnny Carson. While his imitation may work on stage, it’s almost insulting hearing him buried beneath a quarter ton of “Goosebumps” Insta-Tan Silly Putty mutter through his mediocrity before being returned to his Lazarus Chamber sarcophagus to irritate us another day*****.

Still, it’s worth watching as a quick refresher on how bizarre the television industry can be. It’s engaging, has a handful of laughs, and Kathy Bates’ performance is not to be missed. Watching it in 2010, it’s frustrating that the powers-that-be let such an enormous clusterfudge happen again. It’s a shame that Letterman never got “The Tonight Show,” but at least Conan got it for seven months. We can only hope whoever has it after Leno has it even longer.

We give The Late Shift a Three out of Five.


**Which is one layer for every star that I give it. $1.39, put it in your mouth and lose weight or something.


****In the same way miniature golf is still “golf.”

*****Quick story, remember in 2006 when Stephen Colbert gave a SCATHING roast of President Bush during the White House correspondence dinner? Well, the next year the White House wanted to avoid a similar incident so they propped Rich Little up to do his “impressions” to the delight of people who don’t know how comedy works. Before the big night, the 70+ and out-of-touch Little was asked who his favorite young comedians were, and he answered “Robin Williams – that guy is off the wall!” Yes, Rich Little’s favorite young comedian was then 58-year-old Robin Williams. Awful.


“Please do not be cynical. I hate cynicism. For the record, it’s my least favorite quality. It doesn’t lead anywhere. Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get. But if you work really hard, and you’re kind, amazing things will happen. I’m telling you, amazing things will happen.” – Conan O’Brien

Until next time…Let’s Agree to Agree!