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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Ellen, Team Coco head to TBS

     Sunday night TBS had a special lineup.  First was Ellen's Somewhat Special Special, followed by Team Coco Presents Conan's Writers Live Hosted By Andy Richter.  Each special was an hour.  Honestly, I watched Andy Richter's opening monologue, which was only very mildly amusing, and then I watched the first writer, who didn't once make me actually smile.  Then I immediately deleted the special.  Perhaps the other writers were better?  It makes one wonder, though.  Conan is hilarious.  He was hilarious even when his writer's were on strike.  Does that mean he's funnier than the writers he hires to support him?  Or maybe he just has better delivery.  He didn't appear himself, as he is still legally prohibited from being funny on television, as per his contract severance agreement with NBC, but he will return to the late night game on TBS this fall.

     Ellen, though, was superb.  In her fourth variety special for TBS, she knocked it out of the park.  The performers themselves were hit (the costume changers, the magician) and miss (the guy swirling on that pole), but Ellen herself was more than enough reason to watch.  She delivered a bit of stand up, and at the end took questions from the audience, some of them very emotionally moving, even if she tossed her trademark humor into the answers as well (example: she couldn't live without Portia, her wife and the car).  My favorite part was the video of her playing with the kids at the science center.  Although she pretended to be annoyed by the youngsters, and often drank 'martinis', as well as helped them rob a gift shop, it all came across as very good-natured, and it seemed like she and the kids were having a lot of fun.  Ellen proves you can be funny and nice at the same time.  America, here is your new sweetheart.  Not that she's new, but she is suddenly all over the place, and handling it quite well.

     Team Coco was a bunch of short stand up segments, much as Comedy Central does all the time.  Perhaps that's why it didn't seem as fresh.  Variety shows, once a television staple, and so rarely seen any more.  They occasionally pop up during the summer, and usually fail pretty spectacularly.  How does Ellen, herself so unlike the old stars who used to host them, pull it off so well?  I think it's combination personality, likability, and getting good acts.  She had Nick Cannon do the DJing, and both her and Nick looked genuinely amazed when the camera cut to them watching the performers.  She draws the audience in because she is so genuine, so relatable.  I look forward to her fifth, should TBS be smart enough to order it.  The 4th was more than somewhat special.

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