Reflections on Cynicism

January 27, 2010

“I ask this particularly of the young people who watch. Please don’t be cynical. I hate cynicism. For the record, it’s my least favorite quality and it doesn’t lead anywhere. Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get. But if you work really hard and you’re kind, amazing things will happen.”

Conan O’Brien, 1/22/10

As a full-throated supporter and card carrying member of Team Conan, I wholeheartedly endorse this sentiment (with many thanks from Joel Achenbach of the Washington Post).

Today officially marks my 26th birthday.  26 is somewhat strange. It’s not a particularly noteworthy number.  I’ve been able to drive a car (17), vote (18), and drink (21) for more than several years now.  25 is a milestone birthday, one of those that you’ll theoretically look back on one day when your kids ask you what your 20s were like.  It was a good year.

26 is rather unremarkable to most people, but I’ve put some thought into it throughout the past several days.  On reflection, it turns out that 26 is a crossroads for me.  It means the end of my formal education, the beginning of my career, and a commitment to the city that I spent an entire childhood admiring.  For me, 26 is the end of some things and the beginning of many more.

Professionally and scholastically, I have been remarkably blessed. I have spent three years of my life at an institution that has provided unparalleled guidance and support.  I have been the beneficiary of brilliant professors whose instruction has given me the tools to succeed not only in the legal industry, but in any line of work.  And I have worked hard enough and been lucky enough to land a job in a difficult economy in a growing field of the law.

I realize the opportunity that I have been given in September could be ripped away from me at any time.  Economies collapse, jobs are lost, relationships don’t always go smoothly.  Mr. O’Brien certainly understands that better than anyone.  “I’ve had more good fortune than anyone I know,” he said.  “And if our next gig is doing a show in a 7-11 parking lot, we’ll find a way to make it fun.”

Being in the right place at the right time with the right type of luck can get you everything you’ve ever wanted, but it can all be taken away in an instant.  No one in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get.  But I’ve worked hard, and I’ve been kind.  I believe in the good in people, and I believe that amazing things will happen.  It only took an embattled comedian for me to be able to put it into words.

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Keith versus the Meme: Defending Jay Leno

January 26, 2010

Look, let’s get one thing straight: I am a Conan O’Brien fan.  This doesn’t mean that I dislike Jay Leno; I just prefer Conan’s brand of comedy.  However, I would like to address the notion that Leno is the villain in this NBC Late Night Drama.

Now, I have no way of knowing whether or not Jay Leno is a bad dude.  For all I know he may be, but whether he is or isn’t a good guy is irrelevant.  The reason?  Because JAY LENO GOT SCREWED FIRST.

Think about it.  The guy hosted the #1 late night talk show for years and NBC was all set to push him out the door for Conan.  But when the time came for Conan to take over the tonight show, NBC got cold feet (and rightfully so.)  Mark Cuban actually blogged about why we should be applauding NBC for taking a risk and giving Leno a shot at 10pm and I agree with him 100%.

So while I was sad to see Conan kicked off The Tonight Show after only 7 months (I do believe he would have eventually figured it out and got better ratings), the facts are clear as day: Leno dominated that time slot for years and Conan was struggling mightily.  Of course Conan supporters will point to mitigating factors and they do have a point.  But you can’t argue with the stats and the stats say Leno gets the eyeballs.  Conan supporters also point to Leno’s 2004 statements regarding his passing the torch to Conan and retiring.  Well, what did you expect him to say!?  NBC was putting Jay in a retirement home so they could move in their hot new girlfriend.  He really had no choice.

This brings me back to my ultimate point.  Whether you love Jay Leno or hate Jay Leno, you cannot deny that the guy was screwed.  If you or I were in his position, we would be pretty pissed that our employer would fire us after years and years of finishing ahead of our competition.  So please, don’t leave comments discussing the merits of Jay Leno the comedian.  That’s not the point here.  The point here is that Jay Leno got the shaft long before Conan, yet somehow no one mentions this.