In a convergence of basketball and comedy, humor scripted and improvised, with a dash of late-night raunchiness that went beyond his usual network TV gig, Charles Barkley lit up the stage on a “Conan” appearance Thursday night.
He also lit up a couple of old pals while appearing on the TBS show, produced from Atlanta for a week heading into the Final Four.
In a wide-ranging comic interview by host Conan O’Brien, Barkley talked about:
- His new-found love of “manscaping,” including his new routine of getting his eyebrows waxed.
- The impact on various parts of his anatomy from adhering to his “Weight Watchers For Men” endorsement deal.
- His desire to be an NBA general manager. “Y’know what, I’m gonna be a GM,” the Hall of Famer said.
- The shelf life of his current gig as Turner Sports studio analyst and all-around basketball raconteur. “I don’t want to outstay my welcome,” Barkley said. “When I took this job I said I was only going to do this for four years. This is 14 years.”
- A desire to move permanently to America’s West: “I need sunshine. I’m a delicate flower.”
Some of Barkley’s best lines were reserved for his buddies and former rivals Michael Jordan and Shaquille O’Neal. “I love Michael – he hasn’t done a good job [as owner of the Charlotte Bobcats],” Sir Charles said, before going off on a tangent on His Airness’ appearance.
“People tell me he’s good looking,” Barkley said. “First of all, he’s not good-looking. Every man who’s got $500 million is good-looking. … If he was a plumber, people wouldn’t be saying he’s good-looking.”
Barkley teased O’Neal by accusing him of using a body double when filming a lotion commercial in current rotation, and he wondered about the big man’s Buick spots too. “Have you ever seen him get in that car,” he said. “Thank you! … I think that might be a stunt double also.”
Still, the power forward-turned-TV natural saved his best shot for nearly last. He and ESPN college analyst Dick Vitale were mock-announcing an on-stage “Conan” event, “NCAA Weird Dunking Mascots.” As contestants, it featured the likes of BL(Mr.)T, a plush-character sandwich sporting Mr. T‘s “bling” and Mohawk, as well as the Peachtree Plaza Tower With Erectile Dysfunction.
As Morbidly Obese Col. Sanders prepared to propel himself badly off the mini-trampoline, Barkley was respectful and said, “You’re my favorite person in the world.” Then Superman With His Cape Stuck In A Toilet stepped onstage, an actor dressed in the superhero’s costume trailing and grounded by, yes, a whole toilet.
Said Barkley: “Reminds me of Shaq his last couple years.”