Statistics

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Number of Weeks Worked with Late Night: 9
Number of Days Worked: 45
Number of Days Blogged: 4
Total Percentage of Blog Internship Coverage: 8.89%
We are approaching excellence!

Dispatches from Studio 6A: Week One

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One of my goals was to collect all of this week’s episodes and edit them into a highlights clip. I know that some of the people who’ve begun reading this blog cannot stay up from 12:35 am through 1:35 am to see the show, despite how good it the skits and guest lists may be.

I started work on it today, but realized that it was a very involved process and took up a lot of time. An easier thing to do would be to cut up each episode and then put those online. But, since it’s currently 10:00 pm, I’m going to slowly leak these out over the week. Nonetheless, here’s what I consider the best of Conan for the week of 5/14-5/18:

5/14/07:

Conologue

In the Year 2000: Shatner Edition

William Shatner

5/15/07:

Conologue

SAT Analogies

Captain Funn

Stamos Belly Button

5/16/07:

Conologue

Koman’s Sick

5/17/07:

Conologue

Made For TV Movie: The 2008 Presidential Candidates

The Interrupter

Amy Poehler

5/18/07:

Conologue

New Stamps

Conan’s Desk Gets Towed

*NOTE: After typing this up, I think I’m going to get to bed because I’m suddenly (and conveniently) very tired. Please check back for more updates. Also, I do have the rest of this week’s articles written on the pad, but I haven’t gotten around to transcribing this either. I apologize for the delay! GO TEAM BLOGGING!

Turning the Big Crank: Buddy Boy Edition

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We’re really easing into the working week now. Things are becoming a lote easier, more routine, and we’re melding into the show slowly but surely. Tensions are easing up, and we’re all getting to know each other better. I’m sorry to report that my partner in scripts crime and another General Production intern are diehard Simpsons fans. During lunch we managed to talk shop like nobody’s business. In fact, the General Productions guy was reluctant to even begin discussion, for fear that it would lead to a chain reaction capable of absorbing our work and destroying his home life. I’m trying to avoid exaggeration here.

We’re showing our true colors here. I say this because there’s a real difference between the genders in the internship program. It’s essentially like Beauty and the Geek around the offices. Seriously, all the guys are like buddying comedy writers, and all the girls are like budding trophy wives. Actually, the music intern and the research intern are pretty much guy’s guys, pretty hip compared to the rest of us, who are like Milhouse (and one of the guys looks like Milhouse’s counterpart from Shelbyville, save the yellow complexion). So it was kind of embarrassing to be called out today when I turned on Tom and Jerry for lunchtime entertainment. Honestly, I thought it very appropriate for the environment, with a dozen of writer and Conan who undoubtably have the same brand of humor. One of the girls, in a half jokingly- half “but seriously” tone, asked for the channel to be changed to something “more adult.” I was left in the open by my newfound Simpsons fans, although Bill did his best by downplaying it: “I can usually watch whatever’s on during lunch.” I sheepishly relinquished the remote.

Another secret I must reveal is that much like the show, this entry is prepared beforehand and then it gets published digitally later on. Meaning, I write it out longhand with pen and paper during the train ride home from 30 Rock. Right now it is very rainy in New York City, and the rest of the New England, and muggier than the Devil’s balls. Our train compartment has yet to turn on, so I’m sweating it more than Karl Rove at the Democratic National Convention.

As long as I’m writing about what I’m thinking about, I think I might make a clip show of this week in Conan for Saturday, because I know his show is pretty inaccessible to some of my readers. I might make it private to a mailing list, so [try and] post a comment with your email if you want to be added to this list (family and friends who have previously emailed me back about Conan need not bother).

I’m currently working on two comedy posts so they will hopefully return soon in some form.

So there was a super-rare occasion today during what I shall now refer to as the “monologue huddle”: we interns were acknowledged and asked our opinions of the jokes in whole. He asked, “If it’s no good, what could happen?” implying it’s not like NBC would fire him. Bill quipped, “You could get no laughs,” in which I replied, “They’ll laugh at anything.” Conan chuckled, bowed, and said, “Thank you, inner voice,” and then went off to do an awesome show. We’re tight like that.

And that’s the News from Studio 6A.

Turning the Big Crank: The Second Day Notes

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Despite yesterday’s transgressions, I managed to have a very good day today. It mostly involved maintaining a safe distance from the offended, and not getting too hung up over the whole affair. It really helps that I know what’s going on during the day, if only a semblance. I think understanding the process if part of grappling the mystical professionalism that everyone keeps talking about.

I’ve been meaning to talk to Aaron, the research assistant responsible for maintaining the official Late Night blog. From what I’ve read, he seems really funny. Also, he was once an intern, many moons ago, so he might be more willing to chat with us mere mortals than most other staff members. To be fair, everyone on staff has been really nice and friendly so far. Other than the bigwigs we don’t run into normally, I’ve been greeted warmly by most (save the person who I have to impress most). One person who has actually been real friendly is Brian Stack, one of the writers who I believe was at the Museum of Television and Radio the night I first got in touch with Mike Sweeney and got the whole ball rolling. I mean to speak to him again, and ask if he was there. I also would like to talk again to Sweeney, who is always either too busy with other things or I’m too busy with other things, and thank him for the connection at the MTR.

On to other business: tonight’s show is very funny, interview-wise. Jenna Fischer, i.e. TV’s Pam Beesly, was supposed to be on but cancelled at the last minute, and was replaced by John Stamos. First, Stamos is a very good-looking guy in person. I must admit this. Probably as good-looking as Jenna Fischer. But as a replacement guest, he was able to kick the show up to a new level with two things: a) Tom Selleck’s mustache, and b) his belly button. It is one of those precious off-the-cuff moments. Must see!

Today I got the special treat of being able to sit in the audience during rehearsal. Well, the every-other-day special treat. If rehearsal seen in the control room wasn’t awesome enough, doing so live in the studio is sevenfold. I have yet to see Conan around the set when he isn’t on – constantly moving, singing, dancing, entertaining. After running through tonight’s bits, he broke into a full rendition of “King of the Road” and “My Bonnie Lies Over The Ocean” while the writers were deliberating about the skits. After rehearsal finished, Conan took a guitar and began playing “Do Ya” by ELO. I am honestly amazed by his high energy – I doubt Letterman, Leno, Stewart, Colbert, et al., ever rehearse or prep with the intensity that Conan exhibits.

And that’s the News from Studio 6A.

The First Day: The Only Time You Can Use The Excuse “It’s My First Day!”

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I’ve finished the first day at Late Night, turning the big crank in the scripts department. Unsurprisingly, it’s very tiring. Also unsurprisingly, I bumbled my way through the day, making three (3) faux pas! I might be overcritical, but what would Late Night be without self-deprecation?

Strike the First

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Never Eat An Apple While Handling Equipment!!

Apples are delicious. I don’t think many people will dispute this fact. My diet regularly consists of either pure cane sugar or carefully filleted animal fat, so it was a rare treat for me to have packed a lunch, and a healthy one at that. Despite looking colloquially charming, eating a juicy apple is actually an unsanitary practice. As it approached the time for me to take the script supervisor’s laptop from the offices to Studio 6A, doing so with one free hand and an apple core in another is not what Late Night considers “professionalism.” The script supervisor looked on warily and with disapproval as I steadied the laptop with the one hand in the balancing act I’ve done a thousand times before, with my sticky fingers splayed to prove that I was contaminating her laptop with natural juices.

This, to me, was a big deal in terms of our working relationship, considering she’ll hardly see me during the day and any black eye will heavily outweigh the hundreds of little feathers in caps that I may accumulate in my everyday activities. Its a bad precedent to make, especially the first day. The bar had been set.

Strike the Two:

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Never Do The Work Of A General Production Intern!!

At around two, the show comes together for rehearsal. There’s a decent bit of work for us scripts interns, because streams of rewrites come in and are needed for redistribution. But seeing as there was four of us there (due to a scheduling mishap both me and the other new guy, Bill, started today), one veteran interns was showing Bill around while I sat on call with my veteran counterpart. In comes someone for production, who needs someone to stand in for La Bamba to fix a mic problem for tonight’s “In The Year 2000” sketch.

We were told specifically to politely decline any requests for help on the grounds that we are in scripts, and need to be on beck and call for any changes that may arise. Well, the person that told us this was the same person who ok’d us to go and help the sound people.

As an aside, I want to note that this was one of the two most exciting parts of the day today. Although I was simply talking into the mike, repeating “two and counting from one to ten, I was then asked to take a stab at La Bamba’s falsetto “In the Year 2000,” and delivered a real crowd-pleaser!

When I returned, the person I’d already annoyed with my apple antics was none too pleased with the fact that we left rank. Another black eye! The bar moves further.

Strike the Last:

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Never Fawn, Never Hover. Observe Professionalism and Distance!!

I can’t really make a sweeping generality about television production, but it seems to have some idiosyncrasies to it that turns it into an almost mystic process. It transcends just the mere making of the show, but in every facet down to the people themselves. It’s hard to adapt new inductees into the system. These fresh variables, untrained in the ways, often aggravate the process, like sand in the gears of some perfect comedy machine. For the most part, I managed to only slightly bruise the teeth.

Here comes special moment #2, a moment that we were prompted before, but was nothing can prep one for the mystique. Like the majesty of a football team rallying in the locker room before the big game, Conan will gather with scripts people, writers and cue card-ists in a moment of unbridled energy and ?É©lan. Conan runs through the cue cards, carefully choosing the wording on the cards while his card-ist works to make the corrections under the extreme conditions of the show is starting in five minutes.

Fortuna’s Wheel spun down for me today, as leaving the control room last and being the one to first mount a task asked of me left me as the man who supplies the white tape for corrections in this process. Now, I’m accustomed to being a right-hand man, someone who’s on constant standby with my job at Temple. Apparently this same style is not acceptable when it comes to this situation, as I was slightly pulled aside to tell me, in the confusion, that I was being a slight overzealous.

What I have learned, though, from these little foibles, is that working in television takes a certain zen practice. It’s something that is either learned right away, naturally, or must be attained through practice. I fear that I fall into this latter group, but I think that one of my skills is that I’m receptive to my surroundings and easily adapt.

Despite my gaffs, if I can clear my mind of them, the whole process is almost too unbelievable to enter it into the realm of mundane. That I will be able to take part in that circle before the show, to essentially help pump Conan up for the evening, is astoundingly awesome beyond words. I’m running out of synonyms!

Everyone seems very nice, and Bill seems very much like me, and hopefully we’ll be able to establish a good working relationship in the next few weeks.

When my stepdad overheard about all my bloopers, he responded, “At least they’re not paying you.” I guess I can take solace in that. The worst thing that can happen is that I’ll never work in this town ever again.

And that’s the News from Studio 6A.