I guess this is really a question for my American friends.
I came across a rather strange video a few days back, featuring the ex-White Stripes guitarist Jack White in conversation with Conan O’Brien early in 2013.
I knew who Jack White was, but I’ve never heard of Conan O’Brien. He seems to be some sort of comedian and talk show host.
About 3 minutes into the show, which seems to be taking place inside a black box that O’Brien claims to have made from asbestos (I guess it was a joke it was made of asbestos, and it was probably a joke that he built it himself as well), Jack White pulls out a pack of cigarettes and lights up, and blows smoke very forcefully across the table into O’Brien’s face. And spends the rest of the hour long show doing it over and over again.
While the two seem to get along pretty well, and talk about art and music and stuff, I got the feeling that something else was happening as well. And what I thought might be happening was that while Jack White was a smoker, Conan O’Brien was probably an antismoker, and Jack White knew it, and was doing his level best to needle him. That was my best guess, anyway. I haven’t seen someone smoke that aggressively in a long time.
Anyway, I was left puzzled. Why had O’Brien built a black box? Why couldn’t they use an ordinary set? Why was Jack White smoking so aggressively? What am I missing?
It seems that Conan O’Brien has his own NBC show, but he’s branched out into cable as well, and it seems that on cable more or less anything goes. So I’m guessing the Jack White interview was one of his cable shows. From Seven Things Conan Can Do on Cable That He Couldn’t on NBC:
Now that Mad Men has made smoking glamorous again, no basic-cable show should be without it. Conan doesn’t smoke, but once he’s on TBS, we hope that won’t stop his guests. Just imagine how much easier it will be for him to book tar-lunged celebrities like Sean Penn, Katherine Heigl, and Barack Obama now that they can light up right on his couch.
I don’t know whether we have cable TV here in the UK, but I don’t see that internet chat shows need to stick to the puritanical antismoking standards of the BBC, ITV, and Channel 4.
It would be really great if there were chat shows on which everyone could drink as much as they liked and smoke as much as they liked. It would be a welcome change from the current sterile broadcast alternative. It wasn’t too long ago (20 years?) that Channel 4 had a show called After Dark, with people sitting round a drink-laden table, chatting and smoking deep into the night. Impossible these days, but unremarkable back then.
P.S. Someone asked me to post this link up on behalf of Audrey Silk.