Writers’ Strike Grows on Conan O’Brien, David Letterman

In this week’s New Yorker, Ben McGrath writes a Talk of the Town about, well, beards. In days of yore, the piece points out, facial fuzz was de rigueur among a certain set of powerful gents—Confucius, Abraham Lincoln and Rasputin among them.

But now, it seems, there’s begun a resurgence of the bearded-bigwig milieu—particularly those ‘working’ in film and television. The reason for this trend, of course, has more to do with the extended W.G.A. strike than anything else. Now famous personalities—many of which heretofore seemed peach fuzz-free, let alone capable of generating thick cheek rugs—have started to cultivate beards of their own. Take, as the item does, Conan O’Brien, who had reportedly spent the last 44 years of his life with a clean, baby-smooth shave. Not so any more; the pompadour’d late-night talk show host now has what he bills “a hobby on my face.”

“In my line of work there’s no opportunity to grow a beard….These shows are the organizing principles of our lives, and the moment they stop you start to go insane,” Mr. O’Brien told the magazine shortly before Christmas. (Fellow talk show host David Letterman, too, has reportedly started to give his razor a rest.)

A writer for Saturday Night Live, Colin Jost, said he thinks about 90% of his pals, presumably those also affected by the strike, are “now barbate.” Added Rob Dubbin, a Colbert Report scribe, “I don’t want to overanalyze my own beard, but, I mean, Trotsky had a beard.”