Viewer Mail #666: Ask Conlan #1: It’s about time

A reader from Brooklyn, New York writes:

Dear Conlan,

Why do you call your “Ask Conlan” posts “Viewer Mail”? This is a blog. You don’t really have viewers. You have readers. Look, you called me a reader just now. What’s the deal? I feel like I don’t even know you anymore.

A Viewer

My dear friend, thank you for your heartfelt message. I appreciate your candor, so I will tell you the truth.

Many years ago, when I was but a lad, I would spend my summers at my late grandma’s house. And I refer to her as “late” because she never shows up on time. Come to think of it, she never shows up at all, probably because she’s dead. In any case, she had cable TV, which I didn’t have at my own home (which is probably why I’m so screwed up). My best friends were on MTV, Comedy Central, and E!

One of my favorite shows was called Talk Soup, hosted by a guy named John Henson. It was a great show that poked fun at the ridiculous talk show craze of the 90s. For the kids, who may not be familiar with “talk shows”, they were like reality shows or those fake judge shows, but with lower production values and crappier scripting. (After Henson left, the show totally sucked big-time, but was reborn triumphantly in 2004 as The Soup, hosted by the hilariawesome Joel McHale, but that’s not germane to our present conversation.)

During the big weekend episodes of Talk Soup, Henson would always read a letter from an audience member. He introduced these segments with great enthusiasm, saying, “Now it’s time for… VIEWER MAIL!!!” The crew, off-camera, erupted with applause.

The excitement of those moments have stuck with me ever since. Their joy bespoke a solemn respect for the audience—something I try to maintain here on this blog (although it’s hard when bozos like you write in, idiot). Every time I write “Viewer Mail” on a post, I think to myself, “Now it’s time for a little… VIEWER MAIL!,” and I smile knowingly.

So, that’s it: the real reason I have called these posts “Viewer Mail”. But you’re right, it doesn’t make sense. You feel like you don’t even know me anymore. So, henceforth I will title them more descriptively as “Ask Conlan”. And I’ll use real numbers to keep track of them (subject to change… in fact, forget the numbers)!

To further ameliorate your befuddlement, I have introduced a new “About” page, accessible at the top of this page. It will shed more light on who I am and what this is all about. I won’t hide anymore behind the anonymity afforded by the literally tens of other people named Conlan in California.

I hope this helps. If you have more questions, do not hesitate to contact me. Write to conlan(at)