Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop (2011)

He’s still not one of my favorites, but for a ginger with a beautiful beard, he’s pretty damn funny.

When Conan O’Brien was let off of his stint on “The Tonight Show” instead of just chilling, relaxing, and being unemployed, he decided to take his show out on tour for 44 dates. However, Conan really starts to get to understand just how painfully brutal it can be to do shows night-after-night but still having to put on that smile for the fans.

Since I never stayed up too late past my bedtime (9:00. Don’t judge me. I like my sleep.) I wasn’t all that on Team Coco when things went south for Conan last year, however, my sympathy went out to him because in all honesty, who wants to really watch Jay Leno every single week-day night!?! However, this is one of those films where I can at least appreciate the dude for being something other than just another funny celebrity: a real human-being with emotions and feelings just like you and I.

Director Rodman Flender focuses both on his stage-show and the behind-the-scenes stuff that was going on as well and the whole time I felt like I was there with this whole crew and whatnot. The stage stuff is very funny but the back-stage stuff is even funnier because you get to see how all of these people inter-act with one another, and how Conan finds anyway he can to lighten up the mood.

The one problem that I had with this film is that I think it focused a little bit too much on the actual behind-the-scenes stuff and didn’t really let us see much of his actual live-show itself. I heard there was a lot of funny ish that went down on his live shows so when I realized that they were focusing so much on his backstage presence, I was a little bummed for the most part but I still enjoyed myself none the less.

A great element to this film is that it shows us just how excruciatingly tiring it can be to do a long-ass tour, even if it only is about 44 dates. There is a lot of fans that want autographs, pictures, tattoos, and every other thing that a person wants over their idol but somehow Conan is able to take this all in stride and give his fans everything that he wants. This guy is a class-act because he’s funny, witty, and somewhat of a comedic genius that knows how to bring a joke out of every situation, but as much as happiness and goofiness there is to him, he also has a real mean-streak and sad side to him.

I was surprised by the way this film actually portrayed him in a non-flattering way, considering it’s always the subject’s final word on what goes in and what doesn’t. Now take it for granted, the film is not a complete hack-job but at times we see Conan being completely too hard on his assistants/co-workers, taking jokes too far, and also not knowing when to take the spot-light off of himself for once, which is something that I was not expecting but still felt like it was needed considering that this allows us to see the real Conan O’Brien who is just a real dude who wants things done. I actually do wish there was more of the negative parts to his character brought up but then again, I still thought it was fascinating.

Conan O’Brien is a guy that has feelings and does whatever he can to make anybody around him happy, smiling, and laughing all at the same time no matter what. He’s a pretty stand-up dude that has anger within him but is still able to get over that and just be able to please others without it just being an act for the others around him. I have always enjoyed Conan O’Brien but was never fully in love with him, but after seeing this flick I have finally realized that he is a comedic genius that is funny, entertaining, and real. Which is what a good documentary should do.

Consensus: Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop is entertaining because it shows a lot what goes on back-stage and on-the-stage with plenty of funny moments, real showings of human emotions, and a lot of O’Brien just being himself which is a delight to see in the first place.



  1. Wow… how did I miss this?!

    I’m a huge Conan fan, although I haven’t been able to tune in for the last few years. I find Conan to be one of the funnier guys out there, just due to the fact that there’s funny on cue, during shows, movies, TV shows, etc… and there’s consistently funny every single night, being himself.

    Even when compared to another late night contemporary like Steven Colbert: Colbert plays a character on his show. Whereas Conan plays himself (albeit the more comedic, crowd pleasing part) and has fun with why he does. I find that majority of his humour is self deprecating which is hard to find in a ‘celebrity’.

    Will definitely catch this ASAP!!

  2. Over here Conan O’Brien is hardly shown, so really didn’t know much about him, but still gave this documentary a chance. Unfortunately it didn’t manage to keep me entertained and was pretty disappointed by it after all the glowing reviews.

  3. I watched this film probably less than a month ago, and I share a lot of your thoughts. I was actually very surprised to see that there were quite a few unflattering scenes with Conan, whether he was just taking things too far, complaining a bunch, or being too hard on the people around him. But I agree–it’s nice to see a human and not some idea of perfection on screen. He’s a normal guy with faults just like the rest of us, so it was interesting to gain more than just the pretty perspective after watching. Nice review, Dan.

    • I was surprised that he let a lot of this come through but it’s a great portrait of a dude we think is perfect in every single way. Thanks Kristin!

  4. Good points. I agree that I wish we saw more of the show and not more of “Conan the jerk”. Yes, constant attention can wear on anybody, but there are several points in the movie where he complains about it – then seeks it out. I wonder if he understood how it would come across to people who weren’t there. I’m sure there were a ton of other demands on his time, where he was more than gracious, that didn’t make it into the film. The problem is, the audience at home wouldn’t know about them, even though Conan would.

    I may be one of the few people who didn’t feel sorry for him when Leno took his job back. Why? About 40 million reasons. If someone wants to pay be that much money to disappear, I’m going to say “give me 10 minutes to gather my stuff and I’m gone.”

    • You have a good point there my man Chip! I mean I don’t know, I just think he was screwed in the only way that a night-time talk show host actually could. Thanks!

  5. I liked the film a lot actually and I’m glad that those back stage parts are in, because that’s the point of the film, which is that Conan never stops performing and doesn’t know how to turn himself off. That’s why he looks like such an ass in the doc (which he shows he is aware of). Some of it is him being an ass and just not knowing where to draw the line, but I feel like a number of people missed the parts that explain his relationship with his staff and crew. I’ve read where people were upset about how he treated Jack McBrayer, but that’s a bit. McBrayer and Conan did that as a bit on the old show.

  6. I do think it is quite an enlightening documentary that shows Conan O’Brien being himself, whether that portrays him on a good or bad light. There is nothing in the construction of this film that I would criticize.
    Having said that, my biggest problem with it is the very idea of looking at a man who keeps complaining about not getting a fair treatment while hosting the Tonight Show. A lot of what happens stems from that fact and it affects Conan in a way that remains unfamiliar and impossible to relate to. He comes out sounding like a whiny man and I’m a fan.


  7. I love Conan and I try never to miss any of his shows. he is definetly my favorite talk show host and what they did to him with the Tonight Show is just awful. I only watch Leno when my favorite people are on, since he gets better guests, but I always skip his monologues, which are awful. I liked this film a lot, I thought it was very honest and I agree it didn’t portray anything in flattering way, it just showed the things as they were. Great review!

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