Conan O’Brien humor different as night and day from Jay Leno’s
Neal Gabler offers a mostly insightful analysis of NBC’s recent late-night meltdown [“Leno Trumps What’s Cool,” Jan. 23]. It is true, and perhaps axiomatic by this point, that NBC gambled in favor of Conan O’Brien’s “hip” factor and lost bad. But Gabler reveals his own ignorance of Conan’s real appeal to his audience with the flip and highly subjective comment that Conan, while he “may have been modish . . . wasn’t funny.”
What qualification does Gabler have to make this judgment? A doctorate in humor? Admittedly, Conan’s humor wasn’t for everyone. It was satirical and absurdist, and hardly mainstream (there was NBC’s mistake). But his core fans, like me, find him hilarious. So have millions of others, going back to his very successful tenures as a writer of “The Simpsons” and “Saturday Night Live.”
Jay is like a warm cup of milk; Conan is a can of Red Bull. Which do you want before going to bed?
Laserium is too outdated
I think the real reason Laserium failed [“Laserium’s Lights Dim Again,” by Mike Boehm, Jan. 21] is that it is as outdated as electric typewriters or the mullet hairdo. Today’s audience is too busy checking their iPhones every 15 seconds to concentrate on anything that requires looking away from a hand-held device.
Liberal radio vs. conservative
Liberal radio will never succeed like conservative radio has because conservative radio is based on black-and-white opinions while liberal radio is all shades of gray [“Air America Ends on Mixed Message,” by Steve Carney, Jan. 23].
People like to hear that two and two are four. They can’t really take that two and two are sometimes four and sometimes 22, unless it is two squared.
Martin A. Brower
Corona del Mar
Disagreeing over book censorship
I was heartened to see that your review of my book “Jack the Ripper’s Secret Confession” rightly described it as a “noxious stew” [“Ghastly, Even by Ripper Standards,” by Martin Rubin, Jan. 26]. As it is about one of the foulest sets of murders ever committed, it could not be anything but disgusting without bowdlerizing those terrible crimes.
However, I was shocked that your reviewer, while castigating me for weak evidence, says the Victorian pornographic diary “My Secret Life” had never been a test case on censorship. Had he read my book he would know “My Secret Life” was fought over as a test case on book banning in the trial of Arthur Dobson in Leeds in 1969. Had he consulted the endnotes, he would know that at the trial of Billingsley, Schort and Bloss in Michigan in the same year, a judge declared, somewhat surprisingly, that “My Secret Life” was not obscene.
Fair play wins on TV, not in life
Re “Score One for the Little Guy,” by David Kronke, Jan. 27: Who do we think is green-lighting and buying ads for television shows in which protagonists “stick it to the Man”?
Those at the top of the food chain know very well that viewers need to believe that fair play occasionally wins out, otherwise people might just get up off their couches and demand satisfaction in the real world, and we can’t have that.