This was a banner week for Team Coco members, as Conan not only released a new episode of Serious Jibber-Jabber but also participated in a Breaking Bad panel—all while also turning 50 on Thursday.
First, in preparation for the series’ final half-season (which we recently learned won’t be premiering until August 11), Breaking Bad broke… conversational. Bryan Cranston, Dean Norris, Betsy Brandt, RJ Mitte, Bob Odenkirk, Jonathan Banks, and series creator Vince Gilligan all gathered ‘round the campfire stage for a good, old-fashioned panel moderated by none other than Conan O’Brien. Although Aaron Paul was conspicuously absent, it’s a great 68 minutes of fun times. We hear about the show’s creation, we see Bryan Cranston’s tattoo, we learn everyone’s favorite moments on the show, we’re entranced by the magic of bumblebee flight, and Jonathan Banks excuses himself from the stage at one point for a considerably comical reason.
This is obviously great for any Breaking Bad fan, but it’s also a lot of fun for any fan of Conan because he is clearly a genuine fan of the show, too (he lays it on pretty thick for Odenkirk, though, as the two of them are old friends), and that’s on top of the fact that he’s just a naturally entertaining person.
There are some spoilers in the video; if you haven’t seen every episode up to the mid-season finale of season 5, be forewarned.
Next, if that wasn’t enough of the ConeZone for you, a new episode of Serious Jibber-Jabber flung awesome in our faces. If you’re unaware, Serious Jibber-Jabber is an internet-exclusive companion series to the comedian’s late-night TBS talk show Conan. As its name suggests, it’s an opportunity for Conan to conduct slightly more “serious” interviews, in long-form, with guests from various walks of life. Episodes are released on a sporadic schedule, and past guests have included musician Jack White (with whom Conan is friends), Writer/DirectorJudd Apatow (presumably also a friend), and statistician Nate Silver (friendship status unclear).
This episode was particularly within my fandom wheelhouse, as Conan held court over a roundtable of current and former writers/producers of The Simpsons: Al Jean, Mike Reiss, Jay Kogen, and Jeff Martin; all of whom were working on The Simpsons at the time when Conan was also working as a writer for The Simpsons. This is just 81 minutes of pure, unadulterated bliss for me; I’m one of the people who buys box sets of The Simpsons(and Futurama) and immediately listens to the commentary tracks because it feels like being in a roomful of smart, funny comedy writers. That’s what you get here, with video! You get stories about how terrible the writers’ room was (and still is), you hear about how Tracey Ullman hated The Simpsons (until it started making money), Conan relates the story of the time he gave Johnny Carson bad directions, Conan discusses how he came up with the idea for the fan-favorite episode “Marge vs. The Monorail” (and how nobody else thought he should pitch the idea), you learn how James L. Brooks loved when a writer would pitch a Lisa or Marge story, and so much more! The only thing that would have made this better is if legendarily reclusive writer John Swartzwelder would have been there (although he is discussed). Also, if Matt Groening would have been there… and if it was several hours long…
Just watch it!
As a bonus, here’s a video to tie it all together; The Simpsons’ couch gag, Breaking Bad style: