One of the first entries I ever made when I started this blog about a year and a half ago was a Hollywood wish list. On that list I talked about how badly I wanted to see Conan O'Brien's tour, but couldn't, and therefore I hoped a DVD of some sort would be created. You can imagine how excited I was to find out that this documentary, Conan O'Brien Can't Stop, was coming to the Magnolia in Dallas this weekend. I grabbed up my best friend, Ashlie, who adores Conan just as much as I do, and we got our butts in seats as soon as we could.
I had a few ideas of what to expect from this movie when I went into it, but what I saw was much better than anything I could have hoped for. I got to see a side of Conan I hadn't seen before. He was candid, he was vulnerable, he was frustrated, he was insecure, he was working through one of the hardest parts of his career, and he was letting us see what that meant. He was ok with just being human on screen, something a lot of celebrities, or at least people with his amount of success, are not usually comfortable with. That's something, as a fan, I really appreciate. It was just so honest.
Now, that's not to say with all that vulnerability the movie was not hilarious, because it absolutely was. I don't think Conan can help himself. Even in the hardest of times he's cracking jokes in most every sentence he speaks. It starts out by explaining the title of the documentary: Conan doesn't know how not to be on a stage with an audience and because he can't stop working, we begin to see the evolution of the tour. It didn't occur to me when I was scouring the internet for tickets, unable to attain any, what exactly I was trying to get tickets for. I just knew it was Conan, it was in a venue up the street, and I needed to be there. In the film, it seemed like the very same thing happened to Conan and his crew as they put tickets on sale. Conan knew he wanted to tour, he wanted to be on stage with an audience, tickets were sold -now what?
The Legally Prohibited From Being Funny on TV Tour was a little bit of everything. Conan did stand up, he played music, he did skits and bits, he had special guest stars join him throughout the tour, and all the while he looked like he was having a blast on stage. (Since I didn't get to see the show live, I was glad to get to see chunks of it on screen.) Even though he was energetic during the shows, after the shows the camera zoomed in on a stoic O'Brien resting backstage, talking about what needed to be changed or tweaked to make the next show better. But, no matter how tired Conan seemed on this grueling schedule (a few times doing two shows a night!), he still went out to talk to fans lined up outside the venue, hoping for an autograph or picture.
For someone to go through something like what NBC unjustly did to Conan, it would be easy to become discouraged, to give up, and lash out. In order to find a way around that Conan, despite his pain, found a fantastic way to deal with the situation and to heal from it by going on tour. In the end, this film is surprisingly touching. Because it's so raw and I felt I was allowed to listen in on something truly personal, I was even more invested than I realized. When the tour ends in the last few minutes of the movie it was easy to feel emotional. This film doesn't paint the picture of a martyr or a saint, but of a regular guy who was trying to get through a rough patch with grace and humility. Such a great documentary! It made me laugh, it made me tear up, it made love Conan O'Brien all the more.