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Conan O'Brien, Zach Woods from 'The Office' Call Out Hyper-Wokeness, Hollywood Hypocrites

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Things Conan O’Brien isn’t a fan of: Jay Leno, Paul Rudd passing off that bit from “Mac and Me” as the clip from his latest movie, and (somewhat surprisingly) wokeness.

The first two should be unspoken if you’re the kind of person who’s followed O’Brien’s career at any time. The third is somewhat surprising; those who have paid attention to the former “Late Night” host’s career are aware that his sensibilities, while they don’t show in the same way that most talk show hosts’ now do, lean to the left.

However, the point is that they don’t show. It’s enough that people like me and especially my managing editor — who asked me, when he found out I was writing about the red-haired comedian’s podcast, “Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend,” to specifically mention the ardency of his fandom — can hold opposing viewpoints at the ballot box, assumedly, and still know the origin of podcast catchphrases like “Kedakai!” and “there was talk of gerbils.” (If you know, you’re laughing, if you don’t, probably best just to assume it’s ridiculously hilarious.)

Furthermore, while Conan hung on well past the Obama years and into the comedy abyss that late night dived into, he wasn’t necessarily part of that. He was still hilarious as ever — and if it was to a smaller audience on cable, it was still enough to keep his cult audience.

That distance has apparently made O’Brien more willing and able to tread places his contemporaries wouldn’t normally be willing to, in this case regarding wokeness.

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Earlier this week, Zach Woods of “The Office” and “Silicon Valley” was on Conan’s podcast to promote his new show, “In the Know.” In that stop-motion series, Woods’ character, Lauren Caspian, is the “third most popular host” on NPR and trying desperately to keep up with woke culture, with predictably cringetastic results.

Much of the show consists of Woods’ character doing Zoom interviews with live celebrities; in one, he tells Tegan and Sara — an indie rock duo consisting of two lesbian twin sisters — that his girlfriend is also named Lauren and looks a lot like him, then wonders if that makes him “an honorary twin lesbian.”

The series was created by Mike Judge, he of “Office Space,” “Beavis and Butthead” and “Idiocracy” fame. If you’re familiar with those and the social milieu that’s being lampooned, you know that this is going to offend some NPR donor pieties. Let me assure that Judge doesn’t care, nor does Woods — or Conan, for that matter.

During the interview, Conan praised the show not only for being “really funny and really well done” but also “skewer[s] a lot of the stuff that I think need skewering.”

Will we ever return to the more conservative Hollywood of the 1940s and 1950s?

“I mean, so many things need skewering, on both sides of the spectrum,” O’Brien added. “But it is so funny.”

As if the point needed to be driven home, later in the piece, Conan noted that “one of the things that I’m really looking forward to seeing more in the show is you and one of your co-workers are always trying to out-woke and out-PC each other.

“It makes for really good comedy, because you will be saying, ‘Well, there’s an unhoused person I met,’ and everyone’s very sanctimonious, and then she’s accusing you of being insensitive because you didn’t use the latest term.

“And I thought, oh, this is comedy that needs to be done right now,” he added.

WARNING: The following video contains graphic language that some viewers will find offensive.

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If you want to watch the trailer for “In the Know,” which I must add is incredibly not safe for work or for young ears, it’s here. This is skewering one very specific side of the spectrum, and it’s not the right.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with having some fun with the right. I’m a conservative, I believe that. So does Mike Judge, something those who have seen “Beavis and Butthead” can doubtlessly attest to. So does O’Brien, too. That isn’t a majority opinion in the entertainment industry, however, particularly among late-night hosts past or present.

While late-night comedy has had a left-wing bias since the turn of the 21st century, for the most part, there came a point during the 2016 cycle where hosts patted themselves on the back for bravery because they told various permutations of “Donald Trump: That’s the whole joke! Get it?!”

Conan certainly told plenty of Trump jokes, but out on the island of TBS and then podcasting after he got canned from “The Tonight Show,” he could still keep things offbeat. There would indeed be talk of gerbils and plenty of wonderfully meandering Norm Macdonald segments:



Moths not included.

The point is that comedy needn’t be censorious and leaden. In fact, it necessarily can’t be. As much as conservatives like you, I and my editor (again, Conan fan extraordinaire) might have complained about liberal bias in entertainment in the days of yore, we were still willing to watch that stuff. There have been plenty of hilarious people on the left, from George Carlin to Richard Pryor to Dennis Kucinich. (I’m told some people think Kucinich isn’t kidding, but I’m not fooled; that’s a long con if I’ve ever seen one.)

What we were talking about was viewpoint bias, in other words, not humor. Wokeness, unless it’s pretty much being unintentionally funny, is the very sound of laughter being strangled.

Conan is choosing his words very carefully here, but there’s no mistaking what’s being said. He chooses to continue to laugh at life and its foibles. So should we.

Yes, there’s wokeness to be skewered, no doubt. In the meantime, there’s still laughs to be had, merriment to be made, and gerbils to be talked of.


This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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