To start, I have been an unabashed fan of Conan O’Brien for many years. His wit, his intelligence, his appreciation and promoting of the absurd speak to me in a way few other comedians can.
Which is why my disappointment is so palpable after last night’s show.
A monologue entitled “Humble Los Angeles Vanity License Plates” began with Conan terming plates that boast, such as “5K A Day” (whether a nod to your income or your exercise regimen) obnoxious.
He then quickly asserted that, perhaps, Los Angeles was being unnecessarily criticized–that there were a plethora of more humble license plates throughout the city, plates he called “Humility License Plates”–plates that point to their owners’ human frailties, flaws, and shortcomings.
The first was “DBL CHIN” (double chin). That was immediately followed by “AOL USER.” We then saw “6 PUSHUPZ” and “900 SAT.” Of course, there were the requisite jabs at both male and female anatomy. But then there was “ADOPTD.”
And as if that weren’t enough, the car this plate adorned was dilapidated (Conan even said, “This is sad . . . a beat-up car.”), and the audience instead of guffawing punctuated their laughter with a pathetic “Awwwww.”
I understand comedy. Believe me, I do. I know good comedy pushes limits and its listeners. But, honestly, putting “adopted” in this montage says only one thing to the countless viewers under Conan’s spell–that being adopted is something unattractive, something about which to be embarrassed, something that invokes pity, something that is second (or third or fourth).
However, if anyone should be embarrassed it’s Conan O’Brien and his team of writers and editors because, truly, I would think they would know better. Though most of the young children who joined their families through adoption are not up at 11:30 PM watching this show, some of the older ones are and so are their parents. And in a split second, with a single “joke,” all the work of adoptive parents, adoption professionals, and, most importantly, adoptees themselves, is compromised. And there is nothing funny about that.
Tomorrow is the anniversary of my oldest son’s Adoption Day. He is seven years old and in the second grade. He asked me tonight if I would email his teacher and principal and let them know about his special day. I agreed, of course, then asked him why he wanted me to tell them. He said, “Because I’m proud of my Adoption Day.”
Would that a team of esteemed entertainment professionals have the wisdom of a seven-year-old.