Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Day three: "Conan says goodbye to Late Night" week; the sidekick

Let's pause for a moment to remember the comic genius of one Andy Richter. If not that, the "lovable good-naturedness" of Andy Richter will do!

Andy, of course, was Conan's sidekick/comic foil/go-to guy for over 400 episodes of Late Night with Conan O'Brien.

He was there from the start, in 1993, and after he left, in 2000, he suffered the worst indignity ever foisted upon a sidekick: he was replaced by no one.

Andy's position on the show was always odd; at first, he took most of the blame for the show, which was almost universally panned. A lot of the first reviews said something like, "Get rid of that sidekick who brings nothing to the show."

It wasn't really his fault. When Conan was struggling, he'd go to Andy, and Andy would have to do his best - which wasn't enough to save some of those early (and terrible) O'Brien fumbles.

But over time, Andy kinda grew on me, and the rest of O'Brien's audience. I first got the sense that Andy might in for the long haul when Frank Black ran video of Andy dancing behind him while he played "Freedom Rock" on the show.

More and more, the show sent Andy out on wacky assignments and he became everyone's favorite lovable guy who would do anything for a laugh. After awhile, he even stood (albeit awkwardly) to one side of Conan to provide the laugh track during the monologue.

When Richter left the show, it was ostensibly to become a TV star in his own right, but it never really panned out for the big lug.

Behind the scenes, Andy was one of the nicest people with whom to work on the show. He was very visible around the office, showed up at all the parties, and even answered all of my questions about the film Cabin Boy, in which he "starred" along with Chris Elliott and David Letterman.

Don't get me started on "Cabin Boy..." - it's genius, I tell you!

Andy's almost certainly a lock as a guest on the show this week; but I think they should just let him back into "the sidekick chair" for the entire week - and maybe forever on Conan's new Tonight Show. Ed McMahon would be proud!

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