SXSW Film: Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop

Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop is an unprecedented look at what happened to Conan O’Brien after he was essentially fired from The Tonight Show after only being on the air for seven months.  At the beginning of the documentary (complete with Taiwanese animation), it describes what happened when Jay Leno’s half hour long new show failed in the ratings.  NBC executives decided to push back Leno’s show by a half hour to help with the ratings, but in doing so, The Tonight Show would actually be on at midnight, which defeats the purpose of the show being called The Tonight Show.  Conan decided to walk away, essentially giving back The Tonight Show to Leno.

Conan O’Brien has a huge fan base.  They came out in droves while the whole late night situation was still being decided, protesting NBC and Jay Leno.  I am also a huge fan of Conan.  I spent the majority of my college nights watching him and Andy Richter on Late Night with Conan O’Brien.  Conan’s fans are passionate, and that is one thing that he is very lucky to have.  He realizes this and is very appreciative of what they did.

What many people may not have realized is that after Conan left The Tonight Show, he was legally prohibited in a contract from being on television for six months.  This parlayed into Conan having a lot of time on his hands.  During this downtime, Conan and his team produced a live show that toured the country, partially as a way to thank the fans for their support.  The show was called The Legally Prohibited From Being Funny on Television Tour.

This documentary followed the conception of the live show, the rehearsals, and followed Conan on several dates, and ends with the last show.  While Conan O’Brien is quite funny on TV, he is also extremely funny in his everyday life.  The majority of the documentary had me laughing out loud at what Conan was saying or doing.  Andy Richter is quite funny as well.  There is one writer, Matt O’Brien, that was along for the tour that got daily punches from Conan.  This is shown numerous times throughout the documentary.

Quite a few Hollywood stars stopped by backstage at Conan’s shows, some even participated.  Jim Carrey, Stephen Colbert, Jon Hamm, Jennifer Westfeldt, and John Stewart are all featured.  Eddie Vedder and Jack White also show up to contribute musically.  The funniest appearance had to be when Jack McBrayer shows up in Conan’s dressing room prior to a show.  McBrayer used to work on Late Night with Conan O’Brien.  That southern accent of his is all real, and Conan readily makes fun of it and is the butt of several jokes.  McBrayer eventually gets convinced to show off a little bit of his clogging knowledge.  Hilarity ensues.

One thing that many will be interested to see is another side of Conan.  He becomes increasingly frustrated with preshow parties, after parties, and meet and greets.  While he is never a jerk to any fans, you can see that the amount of time he spends at these events and talking to people bothers him.  He is more concerned with losing his voice and not being able to perform for the people who paid to see him.  He also values his time off-stage.  Like any other celebrity, he is asked for photos and autographs many times and that intrudes on his time off.

Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop is a great title for the documentary because Conan can literally not stop.  Even on his off days, he is performing secret shows or going to other events.  The documentary itself is a great look at the man behind the now defunct Tonight Show and the current host of Conan.  While giving a behind-the-scenes look at the man so many people were interested in during the late night wars, the documentary provides many laughs and comedic moments.  I would gladly see this one again.

I give Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop 5 “self-pleasuring pandas” out of 5.

by Sarah Ksiazek

About Sarah Ksiazek

Sarah is a Zookeeper extraordinaire who writes, edits, and is the resident trailer addict for Lost in Reviews. Do not underestimate her snobbery when it comes to trailers. She also owns/runs The Host Movie News which is a fan site for The Host movie adaptation.

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