Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Coco Wows Eugene

The notice went viral early on March 11; by noon, it was sold out. Conan O'Brien would open his 30-city tour right here in River City!

A testament to the power of social media, the mere announcement that "Coco" would debut his road show in Eugene ignited an unprecidented ticket feeding frenzy.

We were lucky, mostly due to the fact that Gina was a member of O'Brien's Facebook fan page, nearly a million strong. When notice of his appearance in Eugene went viral, she pounced on the opportunity.

Gina conducted the research and I provided the credit card and, as a result, we both attended the opening performance of Conan O'Brien's "The Legally Prohibited From Being Funny On Television Tour" at the Hult Center for the Performing Arts on Monday, April 12.

Heir apparent to Jay Leno on "The Tonight Show," Conan was unceremoniously dumped by NBC in deference to Leno, who longed to return to his old time-slot. However, O'Brien would have -- as Mark Knopfler might sing -- "the last laugh going down."

Dubbed "Coco" by actor Tom Hanks on the second episode of "The Tonight Show With Conan O'Brien," he not only negotiated a $32.5 million buyout with NBC while taking his show on the road, the red-headed comedian also signed a five-year deal with TBS just hours before his Eugene appearance. The agreement will put him back on late-night television later this year.

The show itself was high energy and can only be described as a "love-fest" with the audience of more than 2,500 adoring fans. Considering it was his opening show, the players, skits and videos were very polished, and Triumph the Comic Insult Dog had me in tears (check him out at if you want a few laughs).

In turn, the crowd went "cuckoo for Coco."

Monday, April 12, 2010

Calling Elvis, Anybody Home?

The whole family -- including Gina and Jory -- attended a brilliant concert by seminal songwriter and guitar maestro Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits fame and his band of talented musicians at the Hult Center for the Performing Arts in Eugene on Sunday, April 11.

Arrived early to peruse the "merchandise" such as shirts and posters, though things were off to a rocky start: a shirt vendor tried to stiff me for an additional $5 when returning my change. Dude was a dead ringer for "Del Preston," the veteran roadie with the thick Liverpudlian brogue and overdeveloped sense of self in "Wayne's World 2."

After giving him four Andrew Jacksons for two $35 MK shirts, he deftly gave me a fiver back instead of the $10 I was due. Rebecca interceded and -- feeling pressed -- I insisted on correct change. He indignantly, but immediately, complied with my request. I wonder how many other unsuspecting consumers he scammed that night.

For longtime MK and Dire Straits aficionados like myself, who have seen Mark in concert numerous times, the set list was superlative. He must have played nearly a dozen tunes I have never heard performed live in concert, so I was one happy camper.