Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop
Documentary by Rodman Flender
“Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop” follows O’Brien in the months after his “Tonight Show” debacle, when a “retired” Jay Leno reclaimed the 11:30 p.m. time slot from his younger successor.
Fueled by anger and a rabid fan base, O’Brien embarked on a “Legally Prohibited From Being Funny on Television” Tour, and this documentary doggedly trails him. Though it’s hardly revelatory, the 90-minute showcase of O’Brien’s humor (and, occasionally, his psyche) will please fans. Non-fans? Probably not as much.
We’re along for the whole ride, from writers’ meetings to rehearsals to the actual tour. O’Brien talks to the camera on the tour bus, in makeup chairs and green rooms — and even at home, where we meet his wife and adorable towheaded kids.
There isn’t a moment when O’Brien doesn’t seem wired, restless or worried. Even when he’s reclining on a couch or horsing around with his children, Coco is an intense, high-precision joke machine, and his ceaseless wit is mesmerizing, even a bit compulsive.
He ribs his colleagues in good fun, but also admits to holding others to the same rigorous standards that he holds himself to. Indeed, some of the film’s most candid moments are when Conan’s inner taskmaster emerges.
Though the documentary merely scratches the surface as a character profile, it’s nice to see O’Brien not only as a comedian, but also as a boss, a businessman and a father. He comes off as a man who laughs a lot but smiles sparingly, and it’s this underlying seriousness that makes him so appealing.
“Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop” may wear thin for those who aren’t fans, but Coco acolytes and aspiring comedians are sure to appreciate this triple dose of a comedy idol.