Photo by Vince Bucci
Conan O'Brien had only arrived in Minneapolis a few hours earlier, but already he felt like he was home.
"This is where I should be living," he told the sold-out crowd at Orpheum Theatre Thursday night. "I may not be the whitest guy in the room here. I could walk around the skyways all the time and occasionally peek outside."
The last time O'Brien was in the Twin Cities was more than eight years ago as part of his "I'm-still-ticked-off-I-lost-the-Tonight-Show" tour, but he came across like a longtime Midwesterner, teasing locals about their purported "niceness" and picking up on an audience member's suggestion that Minneapolis had a rivalry with neighboring St. Paul.
"How can you be a rival with someone you share a river with?" said O'Brien, reminding fans that he's the quickest improviser in late-night TV. "Is it like, 'Our Bed, Bath and Beyond is better than your Bed, Bath and Beyond?'"
O'Brien spent a good deal of his time on stage gently ribbing Los Angeles, a theme picked up by most of the four comics he brought with him, including Taylor Tomlinson, who compared the city to a "concentration camp for people with dreams."
What didn't get mocked was anything related to Donald Trump. The two-hour-plus evening made little reference to politics, a reminder that the evening's host is the least likely of the late-night personalities to riff off the news.
Expect more of that approach when O'Brien reutrns to the airwaves next year. His TBS show, "Conan," will be pared down to a half hour without a band, less celebrity interviews - but even more much-needed silliness.