Not Tonight with Conan O’Brien

By Cyberquill 03/12/201013 Comments

Conan O'Brien

“It was either a massive 30-city tour or start helping out around the house,” said Conan O’Brien, announcing his upcoming Legally Prohibited From Being Funny On Television Tour.

As soon as the tour wraps up and his contractual television ban expires, Mr. O’Brien is expected to return to the small screen and essentially do the same show he’s been doing for 17 years, only on a different network. Probably Fox. [Actually: TBS!]

Whatever station he’ll be on, the title for his new show is obvious, and you read it here first:

Not Tonight with Conan O’Brien

The simple isn’t always the best, but the best is always simple. For no apparent reason, this title suddenly appeared before yours truly out of the blue. Although it is now my intellectual property, I am willing to work something out with Mr. O’Brien if he wants to use it. A five-digit figure would be fine. It’s a bargain. I’m working for peanuts here.

For now, I am posting it on my blog in order to establish my copyright claim. Thus, if his show ends up being called Not Tonight with Conan O’Brien—which, after all, is the perfect title hands down—without having consulted and compensated me, I’ll be in a position to initiate a law suit over purloined titlage. (If I had a lawyer, he or she surely would have advised me to do precisely what I am doing.)

In case this strikes the honorable reader as delusions of grandeur on my part, that may correct, but it may also betoken a failure on the part of the honorable reader to tell a crack title from a leaky faucet. Admittedly, I am somewhat biased in favor of one of these options.

In any event, I find my title hilarious, and as long as I can keep myself entertained, no one gets hurt. I’m only dangerous when I’m bored.

Incidentally, for all who wonder why Mr. O’Brien’s Tonight Show took a bath, it did so because his set’s feng shui was off the rails. And I mean completely off the rails. The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien was a feng shui Pearl Harbor if ever there was one. No wonder the ratings tanked.

Truth be told, I don’t really know much about feng shui. Somebody explained it to me once. I was listening with half an ear punctuated by the occasional shoulder shrug. An aquarium, for instance, must be placed either on the left or the right side of the entrance—I forget which one. Placed on the wrong side, it will occasion financial hardship. Placed on the correct side, riches. I also recall something about the direction of one’s bed. The head must face either east or west, or else misfortune and ill health will befall the feng shui challenged sleeper. Something like that. And so on and so forth.

Basically, feng shui deals with how physical objects—such as buildings, furniture, and the like—are positioned in relation to other items and which direction they face. Positioning them correctly produces positive energy. Position them wrongly, and the gods will be angry. The shape of an object is also very important. Triangular items protruding into an open space, for example, are bad. The famous Flatiron Building (left) on Fifth Avenue at 23rd Street in Manhattan, for example, allegedly constitutes a particularly heinous feng shui infraction to the point where one may wish avoid this particular intersection altogether, let alone visit or—God forbid—work in this building. I don’t know. I sort of like it, although I figure that the rooms located in the frontal apical edge may be a nightmare to heat in winter.

Given my relative unfamiliarity with the science’s minutia—assuming one wishes to call it a science—I simply use the phrase bad feng shui whenever something strikes me as awkwardly put together, such as Conan O’Brian’s Tonight Show set. I forget how much it cost to custom-build this monstrosity at Universal Studios, but aside from running into the millions, it looked big, cold, and logistically incomprehensible. Before people doze off at night, they want to see something warm and comfy, not a guy entering the stage out of a supersized tin box with a curtain. And could the Tonight folks have picked a worse place for the sidekick’s podium than front left by the first row and next to the entrance?

By comparison, check out Jay Leno’s new Tonight Show set. It is perfect. Small, cozy, warm colors, and the entire composition makes sense. Ironically, it is the same set that was used for his ill-fated 10 P.M. show, only given a major facelift. The glass doors at 10 P.M. were awful. They looked like the entrance to a supermarket. Now they chucked them, repainted the whole set, and it’s beautiful. Excellent feng shui, and I predict the show will have a successful run.

Ditto no complaints about Letterman’s, Fallon’s, the Scottish guy’s (whatever his name), and Conan’s old New York set. Sure, the host matters, but all these guys are very good at reading jokes off cue cards and providing quick-witted repartee with their guests. But if the set sucks, forget it.

In a related story, Jay Leno was accused of stealing the Tonight Show back from O’Brien. A lot of ink has been spilled, and lots of questions have been asked. One question, however, has not been asked, and that’s the most interesting one:

If Leno had quit NBC, who would be hosting the Tonight Show now? Would they have kept Conan or held auditions? Does anybody know?

It seems to me that the only way Leno could be accused of taking anything away from Conan would be if they’d kept Conan around at 11:35 after Leno’s hypothetical departure.

Whatever. All I know is that (a) there was something seriously was seriously wrong with the feng shui and (b)NBC lost hundreds of millions of dollars. Correlation or causation?

We report, you decide.

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  • Cheri

    I had a deep thought about feng shui but the lingerie ad to the right of this comment box reminded me that I need to get out of my chair and exercise.

    • Cyberquill

      The purpose of the ad isn’t to remind you to get out of your chair and exercise. It’s supposed to remind you that in order to look like the girl in the picture, all you have to do is buy their lingerie. There seems to be something wrong with the way your subconscious mind works. You may want to get it checked out by a professional.

      • Cheri

        What about her headscarf? Should I get one of those too? Does she have a belly button ring?

        I am not into piercing.

        • Cyberquill

          Get over your navelblingphobia. Your students will love it. And no, you don’t need a headscarf. The teacher hat works fine.

          • Cheri


            OK. I am comfortable with my teacher hat on…

            • Cyberquill

              By the way, strategically placed piercings can help lower LDL. They’re like 24/7 acupuncture. (Although this is meant to be a joke, I may be correct by accident. Check with your local Chinese physician.)

  • Andreas

    That lingerie ad always gets me. You oughta remove it, Cyberquill.

    Now, since you’re so good at coming up with simple and witty titles (and that one is both), could you come up with some ideas for my book?

    Not that I get to choose the title, of course. That’s the publisher’s right. But I can make suggestions…

    • Cyberquill

      They allow you to make suggestions regarding the title for your own book? That’s nice. Do they also allow you to make suggestions regarding its content?

      How about Unkluth?

      Actually, that would be a perfect title for my subsequent rebuttle to your book. I’ll let you know as soon as a suitable title for yours occurs to me.

      I like my lingerie ad, plus every time someone clicks on it and buys a bra or a thong or something, I get a commission. My total revenue generated by the ads on my website since July ‘09 has almost reached the one dollar mark already, and I do not intend to scuttle one of my paramount sources of income these days just because you feel intimidated by the sight of large breasts. Like Cherie, I suggest you seek professional counsel. (Look—Cherie’s dangling!)

  • Camila Perry

    Feng Shui is used mostly by old fashioned chinese. I dunno if it really works.,”

    • Cyberquill

      I use the term loosely for items that don’t look right, either in terms of their shape or placement.

  • Harvey Morris

    sometimes the predictions of feng shui are true and sometimes it is not.`,*

    • Cyberquill

      Indeed, and sometimes the predictions of Punxsutawney Phil are true and sometimes they are not.

  • Cooker Hoods

    somehow i believe in Feng Shui, my house was built based on the suggestions of a Feng Shui master*-“

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