Conan Day 2 at 2012 Just for Laughs | Comedy review
Tuesday night's Conan taping found its host settling in nicely at the Chicago Theatre, striking a slightly more routine quality in the wake of the previous evening's star-studded affair. Capitalizing on its temporary change in scenery, the show's writers once again peppered the program with gentle jabs at our fair city, the home of—as O'Brien put it—"the Bears, the Bulls and the all new type 4 diabetes."
Writer and comedian Jimmy Pardo warmed up the crowd, mercilessly ridiculing latecomers amidst a rapid-fire rundown of the evening's schedule. However, it was Jimmy Vivino and the Basic Cable Band that best succeeded in rousing an already excited audience, as Mark Pender and Richie "LaBamba" Rosenberg took turns behind the mic. By the time Andy Richter took his podium, the room was bristling with anticipation.
Commanding his usual standing ovation, O'Brien launched into a monologue aimed squarely at residents of the city. Ever heard the Bean being compared to Michael Moore's prostate? Well, now you have. Fans of the show's colorful characters were also in for a treat as O'Brien introduced a variety of possible Cubs mascots, with HAL Capone and the Jesse Jackson 5 ranking as some of the more entertaining proposals. The ever-popular Masturbating Bear even made an appearance, first as a laptop-gazing football player and then as the familiar well-endowed ursine.
The evening's pre-recorded segment found O'Brien traveling to Chicago's Francis Xavier Ward School with bandleader Jimmy Vivino, where the pair taught a group of 7-year-olds about the blues. Though the scenario was ripped straight out of School of Rock, the kids stepped up to the plate with some adorably juvenile problems, culminating in O'Brien's performance of "The No Chocolate Blues."
A quick set change brought guest Andy Samberg to the stage, where he relayed a smattering of stories from his time at SNL and quickly reaffirmed his departure from the late night program after seven seasons (read our interview with Samberg here). Though Samberg's impression of an angry Rahm Emanuel fell flat, his take on Adam Sandler was pitch-perfect, likely due to the their time spent together filming the upcoming That's My Boy. Samberg ended his appearance by shooting t-shirt guns filled with g-strings into the crowd—a sensational, yet oddly appropriate exit.
After Eric Hutchinson wooed adult contemporary fans with a performance of his latest single "Watching You Watch Him," the show was all but over. O'Brien ended the evening with his typical farewell before jumping into the crowd to sign autographs and take pictures with fans. It's this type of enthusiasm that makes show's stint in Chicago so special—O'Brien seems genuinely excited about his temporary return to a city he obviously loves and, of course, we're always happy to have him here.