A little over five years ago Andy Samberg gave up his unemployment checks to take a job writing a few gags for a television special, the MTV Movie Awards. He took a pay cut.Conan O'Brien is now the host of The Tonight Show but will the bits from Late Night work an hour earlier?
Still, it turned out to be a good career move. The assignment led to an audition at “Saturday Night Live,” a job on that show and growing fame for a series of short digital comedy films, some of which have been downloaded tens of millions of times. And now, in a scene right out of one of the popcorn movies that the awards celebrate, Mr. Samberg is back as the host of the ceremony. (It will be broadcast live on Sunday at 9 p.m. Eastern time.)
“We’re going to kind of see as we go what people go for, what people respond to,” says writer Brian Stack, a Second City alum. “I think the basic sensibility of the show may not need to change that much — especially in things like remotes, when [Conan] goes out into the field. I think he’s often at his funniest when he’s out circulating in various fish-out-of-water situations. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the seriously off-the-wall, insane stuff may have to get toned down a little bit, but I hope there’s still room for some of that.”The end of Jewish humor? I don't think so. Not by a long shot. Here's the NYMag article:
So while the Masturbating Bear may or may not be cleared to do his disgusting deed at 10:35 p.m., it’s entirely possible — even probable — that the Conan of new will more than passingly resemble the Conan of old.
“We’ve been shooting some bits and working on some things that retain some of that off-the-wall spirit,” says Stack, “and I hope people respond to it and that we can keep doing it. And I know in the remotes [Conan’s] shot since he’s been out here, his sense of humor doesn’t seem to be toned down or watered down at all. He’s pretty much doing it like he’s always done it.”[...]
Another source of potential yuks is the “Tonight Show” compound itself. Whereas Conan and crew were encamped at the storied epicenter of American television production, 30 Rockefeller Center, in New York, they’ll now make merriment in a bigger, posher, free-standing structure erected especially for them.
“It’s a beautiful studio and I hope that it still retains some sense of being in a theater,” Stack says of the performance space. “One of the reasons I always loved Studio 6A [at Rockefeller Center] for ‘Late Night’ was it felt almost like we were back at Second City. It was about that size. There were times where you’d forget that there were cameras there. You almost felt like you were doing it for these 200 people that were sitting there. I think that always kind of helped us in some ways. It could probably paralyze you if you thought about how many people were actually seeing the madness.”
At the movies, Allen’s most natural heir and the most successful representative of the new Jewish humor is Judd Apatow, who has pointedly put Jewish characters in many of his mainstream comedies (a genre that tends to omit potentially discomforting details like religion). To those of us raised on Allen’s films, Apatow’s schlumpy, relaxed good guys may hardly seem Jewish at all—they’re more defined by their status as slackers, stoners, horndogs, and underachievers. They might have grown up asking the Four Questions at the Seder table, but they wear their religious heritage with a casualness—neither obsessive nor dismissive—that is light-years from the scratchy suit in which Allen seemed trapped.