Part of our country’s decades-long jocks vs. nerds hangover is a tradition of jokes in which the comedian makes a point of not knowing anything about sports, often involving the use of the word “sportsball.” The first time Conan’s Andy Richter presented a segment called “Andy Richter’s Sports Blast” about a year ago, it was squarely in the middle of that stream: Richter did an impersonation of a brash, jock-gone-to-seed sports commentator who somehow knows nothing about sports, and although it had a few touches of absurdist humor, it mostly made jokes at the expense of people who care about sports from the perspective of a sports outsider. But over subsequent “Andy Richter’s Sports Blast” segments, the show’s writers layered in more and more jokes about, basically, television production: chyrons for subsegments like the “Wall of Basketballs” start invading the screen at the wrong moment, Conan O’Brien and Richter get caught in a loop telling each other “back to you!” and the recorded voice yelling “Sports!” gets more and more insistent. On Wednesday, the “Sports Blast” segment finally achieved its final form:
That is a goddamned symphony. O’Brien and Richter intro Sports Blast with a sort of Oscar-presenter-banter delivery where every line is a little late, and Richter has turned down the ex-jock vibes from the segment’s initial run in favor of just playing someone with no idea what to do in front of a television camera. And adding Andrés du Bouchet as greenscreen correspondent Trey Triplethird III (!) is a stroke of genius. This isn’t just the best version of “Andy Richter’s Sports Blast,” it’s a model for what journalism could someday become. Because although it’s condescending to treat sports contemptuously, the tire fire currently raging in most other fields of human endeavor deserves nothing better. Let’s all pivot to Sports Blast!