We’ve admitted to having a soft spot for Gallagher, having vivid memories of watching his stand up specials that were replayed on Vh1 in the early 90s, and, in fact, seeing him live when he played Westbury Music Fair in the late 90s (and he was totally generous about autographing the t-shirt we had our parents buy us). While we certainly don’t agree with his politics, or really any of his views in general, we still think he’s gotten somewhat of a raw deal, at least in terms of the perception of his career. He might be hanging on now, truly a lion in winter, and his act might have gone off the rails, but there’s no denying he was a star for a time, and that few comedians have achieved the degree of success that he did. And, in fact, his most popular bit was his undoing, as the watermelon smashing Sledge-O-Matic routine has unfortunately come to define him (well, maybe until now), obscuring the more creative, cerebral parts of his act.
It’s doubtful we’ll ever witness a full-fledged Gallagher comeback. By now he seems to have lost or screw or two. Or perhaps he was always missing a couple, but their absence just manifested itself in less crazy and bitter ways. But at least we know that if our car ever gets stuck on a bridge that Gallagher has our back.
And the ratings can certainly be counted on to come back down to earth, if not tonight, or the next night, then soon. But even then will Conan still beat, or at least stay on par with Dave and Jay? Maybe, but it’ll be tough. And here’s why: Jon Stewart. Much was made over the fact that last week, for the first time in decades, a show other than The Tonight Show or The Late Show led late night in the 18-49 demo. That The Daily Show airs 30 minutes before those shows didn’t seem to matter greatly to many of the people who thought that Jon Stewart’s ratings victory meant a monumental shift in late night. We don’t quite buy into that hyperbole, especially since those shows are not direct competitors. But The Daily Show and Conan are, not just for the time slot but for the same viewers. What has elevated The Daily Show has been its loyal following of young, active, internet-addicted viewers. The very same slice of the population that helped turn Team Coco into a phenomenon. Conan won the first round last night, but should one bet that he’ll hold onto those viewers? We wouldn’t.
And what did we learn today? That The Daily Show beat Conan in January both in terms of total viewers and in the 18-49 demo. Hate to say we told you so but…oh, wait, no, we’re totally happy to say we told you so. We told you so!
Which doesn’t mean that Conan’s not doing a great job, or that we were rooting for him to fail. It just means that, like we argued regarding Barack Obama, initial reactions can be deceptive, and, more importantly, rabid fan bases, specifically of the internet variety, have a way of quickly quieting down.
This past weekend’s SNL could have been the funniest of the season and it probably wouldn’t have mattered. That it wasn’t the funniest of the season also will not matter years from now. No, what this episode is being talked about for, the reason that it will ultimately be remembered, is that it featured the first public meeting between Jesse Eisenberg and the social network magnate he portrayed to the tune of a Best Oscar nomination. It was a worlds colliding, fabric of the universe fraying, I’m seeing double (four Zuckerbergs!), moment (although Andy Samberg’s presence as a tertiary Zuckerberg carried much less weight and meta-significance). It was awkward, sure, but that was by design, as the two ‘bergs, Eisen and Zucker, seemed rather comfortable with each other, indeed, giving the sense that they may, in fact, be bros. The tone was less confrontational and more self-congratulatory, as if Eisenberg and Zuckerberg had successfully pulled the wool over our eyes, that the real Zuckerberg is not an unnaturally focused, perennially scowling, monotone misanthrope, but a laid back, dorky, goofball visionary, and that perhaps Zuckerberg was in the on the joke the whole time. Now, that’s not the case, but if there’s any sense of animosity between the two ‘bergs, then Zuckerberg is a far greater actor than anyone is giving him credit for (and by all accounts he’s a terrible, terrible actor).