When Conan O’Brien was unexpectedly removed as host of “The Tonight Show” after less than a year on the job, the comedian’s much-publicized departure led to a number of protests across the country organized by his army of supporters. Legally prohibited to appear on television, radio or the internet for six months following his final show on NBC, O’Brien hit the road on a 32-city music-and-comedy tour to keep himself busy in the interim. But after watching this revealing documentary by director Rodman Flender about O’Brien’s time on the road, any sympathy you might have had for him is quickly erased upon learning that he’s actually kind of a dick.
Though O’Brien deserves a lot of credit for allowing this version of himself to even be shown, the documentary is a pretty eye-opening experience that showcases the attention-hungry performer at his absolute worst. He may not have been in the right head space at the time, but that’s no excuse for mistreating your personal assistant, your writing staff, and perhaps most importantly, your fans. Throughout the film’s 89-minute runtime, O’Brien complains incessantly about having to schmooze at after parties and attend meet and greets with VIP fans that paid extra for the opportunity, and yet despite all the whining, he continues to do more than he’s asked because he’s so addicted to performing. In that respect, Flender’s doc is a success, but while most people will be expecting the funny man-child they see on TV, the Conan O’Brien represented here is little more than a broken man desperate to be the center of attention. And no matter how refreshing that honesty may be, it’s not very entertaining.