Who doesn’t love a good political song parody set to ragtime piano? Trick question—there is no “good” thing on this planet meeting that description. But don’t tell that to Tip Rivers, the perpetually grinning, boater-topped, Mark Russell-esque parodist who did his ivory-tickling, news-based jingles on Thursday’s Conan. With the sort of toothy enthusiasm usually seen on those about to sell you a monorail or host a short-lived but unspeakably brilliant TV show about haplessly reviewing every aspect of human existence, Rivers’ toothlessly catchy schtick was just the tonic the world-weary Conan O’Brien was looking for on a day where more than half of the GOP House signed on to Donald Trump’s farcically fascistic effort to overthrow American democracy. Surely, Tip Rivers, with his cheeky, low-effort, both-sides piano doodles would pep things up.
Sadly, Tip has gotten deep, deep into the right-wing news-o-sphere of late, transforming his signature featherweight, grandpa-pleasing tune-smithing into a glassy-eyed musical screed of conspiracy theories and Fox News talking points. Actually, as Tip put it once Conan called him out, even outlets like Fox News (and even low-rent, openly nuts, somehow less-credible Newsmax) are too fair and balanced for the newly eye-opened Tipper. “What?!,” he responded to Conan’s mention of those (alleged) news outlets, “Those radical, leftist supplicants?” (Tip assured Conan that the only real news comes from a website called christiannewspatriot.truth. these days.)
The rictus-smiling Rivers then launched right into his next number, a bouncy little ditty parroting mask-less lunatics’ claim that COVID death rates are being inflated in order to—something with microchips. (It’s marginally catchier set to the tune of “Carolina In The Morning,” but only marginally.) With Conan’s hopes for a forgettably pleasant, Washington Monugents-style musical translation of the incessant horrors of the actual news repeatedly dashed, the host demanded a closer that had “absolutely nothing to do with politics at all.” And Tip Rivers is nothing if not a crowd-pleaser, happily joshing the “normies” like Conan who “haven’t been red-pilled yet,” before obligingly hitting the keys for a nice, innocuous little number about—oh shit, a 9/11 conspiracy rag. As Conan attempted to move things off of Tip’s ill-advised booking, the MAGA-minted singer quickly incorporated Conan’s first guest Joe Manganiello into his rant about jet fuel, steel beams, and holographic Twin Towers. What? You can’t prove Manganiello wasn’t in this thing right up to his neck.