Leno vs. Conan: Travel Throwdown

Celebrity Travel — By Amy Widdowson on January 19, 2010 at 10:26 am

Here at NileGuide, we’ve made the decision to remain strictly diplomatic when it comes to the current wars over late night comedy* on NBC, mostly because we’re a travel company and I tend to fall asleep before either of these funny men grace the airwaves. Despite this, we feel it is necessary to address this institution-changing event (can it be called the Tonight Show if it happens in the early morning? Oh, the existential crisis!).

Thankfully, the interwebs have blessed us with a wealth of knowledge no one really needs (thank you, Wikipedia!), so we can settle this battle once and for all – TRAVEL STYLE!


Leno: A known car man, Leno writes motor vehicle columns for Popular Mechanics and articles for the Sunday Times in London. His collection includes a Lamborghini Miura, custom Corvette C6RS, and a 21 foot long roadster with a V12 engine (that’s what she said). The promos for The Jay Leno Show featured him riding up and down the California coastline, so one may assume that Mr. Leno is a road trip man.

O’Brien: Conan’s preferred mode of transport is harder to discern. After graduating magna cum laude from Harvard, O’Brien moved cross country to Los Angeles, and one would assume he used some mode of transportation. He did, however, participate in a controversial skit during the Emmys where he survived a plane crash. Funny, but also happened to air the day of a deadly crash in Kentucky. When he moved back to LA from New York to start the Tonight Show, he brought his trusty 1992 Ford Taurus with him, so we can also assume that, yes, he has been in a car or two.

ADVANTAGE: Lamborghini or Taurus? LENO gets the edge here

We here at NileGuide are suckers for a road trip in a hot car, and the current state of North American airlines is enough to make us want to hermit ourselves inside our apartment.

In my mind, the best way to experience a destination is through the native eats. How do our clashing comedians shape up here?

Leno: In an interview with AARP magazine, Leno confirmed that he has indeed sent out for Fluky’s Hot Dogs while in Chicago With an Italian father and a Scottish mother, Leno’s had his share of heart-stopping cuisine from around the world, and even has hosted some on his show – in January 2010, reality TV diva Kim Kardashian deep fried Oreos on his show. Fluky’s Hot Dogs and Deep Fried Oreos? We’re pegging Leno for a Carnival Food Man.

O’Brien: In March 2009, Good Housekeeping printed a recipe for Conan’s Irish Stew, a delectable mix of carrots, parsnips, potatoes and lamb. Trouble is, Conan went on to dispute that it wasn’t his recipe, arguing that he a) doesn’t cook and B) didn’t know who sent it in! Luckily for us, the Good Housekeeping Editors eventually appeared on the show to sort it all out, leaving us with this rib-sticking recipe.


While we love Carney food, you can get hot dogs most places. After a long day of hoofing it around a city, you really can’t go wrong with a good Irish stew.


You know what happens if you don't turn off your phone on vacation? The ocean eats it - true story.

Leno: Leno is a notoriously hard worker – despite doing a live television show 5 nights a week, he likes to perform stand up on the weekends to keep his skills alive. Sounds like Mr. Leno might be unable to leave the office at work when he’s on a break.

O’Brien: Prior to taking a breather before starting as the Tonight Show host in 2009, O’Brien told AOL that he wouldn’t be “sitting in a Jacuzzi somewhere” as he and his staff had a lot of work to do. Again, not likely that Conan would be able to turn off the [insert smartphone here] while on the beach.

ADVANTAGE: NEITHER. We firmly believe in turning off the cell phone / Twitter / Fax Machine when vacation time is upon us. When online Travel is your business, you really enjoy those times you can unplug and unwind.

Visiting a foreign country can be daunting for numerous reasons, but it is especially bad if you get off the plane and realize you’re the only one in 200 miles with your voice/accent/skin tone/height/weight/taste in Crocs. How would either of these men socialize if dropped in a strange locale?

Jay-ber Jabber

Leno: Leno has one of the most talked about visages of any comic. Rival David Letterman has been taking particular glee from jabbing “Big Chin”, and Jimmy Kimmel did an entire show in bad grey wig and stage prosthetic chin. Louder than his protruding facial features, however, is his voice. Some consider it hilarious, others consider it grating, but no one can deny (or help imitating) his booming yet nasal overtones.

O’Brien: Conan is tall. REALLY tall. Not “that football player you dated in high school” tall, but “flaming red hair with gangly limbs” tall. Despite his attention-grabbing appearance, O’Brien possesses an endearingly self-deprecating sense, embodied in goofy physical humor like the string dance, able to cross borders and entertain many. Cover that ginger ‘do, and he’s just like millions of the untanned American masses, albeit able to see over your head. [Addendum, courtesy of Mike Barish: Conan also blends in while traveling to Finland, due to his uncanny resemblance to their current President, Tarja Halonen]


Look how well he blends in! Let's play Spot the Conan...

You’d think that the tall red head would be worse at blending in, but nothing ingratiates yourself to locals like the ability to make someone laugh, giggle, chortle, what have you. Also, this:

There you have it folks, the inaugural NileGuide Celebrity Travel Olympics has been decided, and Conan narrowly takes it from Leno (until he decides he wants it, then Conan will be moved to 2nd place or leave the competition all together). Did you know the winner gets to host a talk show at 11:30 PM on NBC? 😉

Photo credits: NBC Marquee courtesy of PetroleumJelliffe, Jay in Car courtesy of Alan Light, Washed up cell phone courtesy of SMN, Jay Talking courtesy of IanPhilipMiller, Conan in the Aiport courtesy of ella_marie, Puppies dressed as Cats courtesy of NBC and the Interwebs (you’re welcome!).

*  *COUGH COUGH TEAM CONAN COUGH CO… oh, excuse me!*

Tags: airlines, Big Chin, Conan, Hot Dogs, Irish Stew, Late Night Wars, Leno, NBC, road trip, Team Coco, Tonight Show


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