And the later half of late night...
Wow. Kimmel kinda went off on the writers for picketing Leno. "I'm pissed off. I'll be honest with you. I'm hoping tonight will be over with very quickly."
Conan handled things with considerably more aplomb. And his strike beard was way better than I ever could have imagined! "I know this looks fake. It looks like it ties on in the back. I grew it out of solidarity with my writers... and to prove I have some testosterone."
The "Strike Beard moment" was actually sort of inspired.
Kimmel is doing some sort of stagehand theater, plus relatives!
Conan is making theater out of drinking water and having his producer time him spinning his wedding ring on his desk. It's very Dave-esque. And funny, in a random, almost Andy Kaufman, sort of way. "That's good spin! That's good spin! Oh yeah!"
It's not that Kimmel isn't trying the same stuff, it's just that his sensibility doesn't embrace the absurd as easily as Conan's, and he's not as much of a pro as Leno.
OK, so Jay and Conan really did pretty well, Kimmel tanked. Honestly, 2 for 3 isn't much of an argument for the writers' position. Presumably, this would be pretty hard for them to keep up indefinitely, but for the moment, they're doing OK. Actually, there's no need to qualify that with "presumably" - we'll get to find out, because this thing is likely to go on indefinitely.