Conan's Irish goodbye
June 23, 2021 12:53 PM   Subscribe

for 28 years in late night, you talk to someone, you do six minutes, you break, music, then you come back, you do another seven or eight minutes, you’re looking for the funny line to get out Whatever the medium is, what’s the format where I get to still be a kid? If there’s one message you take away from this, it’s that late-night comedy has kept me childlike, but the trick to that is you have to keep changing it up and keep looking for the next iteration and keep looking for the next format and keep looking for the new outlet.
posted by mecran01 (43 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
Related: You Won’t Have Andy Richter to Sidekick Around Anymore [NYT]:

I was applying to be an assistant manager of a movie theater in Westwood. And I got to tell them, I’m sorry, I got a job on a late-night talk show. I was really worried that I was going to get that job and people were going to walk out of the theater showing “Cabin Boy” and see the guy from the movie behind the popcorn stand.
posted by ryanshepard at 1:08 PM on June 23 [7 favorites] link for those over their New York free views for the month.
posted by ApathyGirl at 1:08 PM on June 23 [2 favorites]

I feel old.
posted by praemunire at 1:13 PM on June 23 [3 favorites]

unpaywalled Andy Richter link
How would you describe your approach to the role?
I was a supporting player. I’m happy to help. I grew up in a rural area [Yorkville, Ill.] and sometimes when they would send a horse in a trailer, especially if it was high-strung, they would put in a dog or a goat, just to keep the horse company so it didn’t freak out on the trip. And I was like, I’m the goat.

posted by mecran01 at 1:20 PM on June 23 [17 favorites]

I'm so glad Conan is moving on. That tired old format is really showing its age. I went to see Conan's live tour he did right after he got fired from the Tonight Show, and it was so funny. He has always had a lot to give but I feel the talk show format should have ended with Johnny Carson.
posted by bleep at 1:22 PM on June 23 [3 favorites]

highly relevant: Seth Rogan offers Conan a spliff and it's Andy who smokes like a champ
posted by elkevelvet at 1:24 PM on June 23 [10 favorites]

I have not watched Conan's show in a very long time, but I do remember his very first night. He had on Tony Randall as a guest, who showed up in a tux and was superficially acerbic but clearly happy to help keep the ship afloat. Conan himself was wearing whatever sorry-ass suit he had stuffed in the back of his closet, probably last worn for a job interview. He had no idea what he was doing and admitted this repeatedly.
posted by adamrice at 1:43 PM on June 23 [3 favorites]

I’ve been watching his last week on YouTube. It has been great but his deal is a bit confusing. Conan without Borders and his podcast will remain tied to TBS while the talk show format will move to once a week hour long show on HBO Max. Since I only watch about one episode worth of the show if that, and all on YouTube, this seems rather prescient. I agree the talk show format is growing tired and I don’t see anyone in the wings really since Conan left The Tonight Show. He mentioned that when he started there were three talk shows and now they’re 8, but I honestly have no idea who he’s talking about.
posted by geoff. at 1:51 PM on June 23

Oh of course Colbert, Kimmel, Meyers but that’s all major networks.
posted by geoff. at 1:53 PM on June 23

Sigh. I still haven't recovered from the loss of Craig Ferguson's Late Late Show.
posted by interogative mood at 1:55 PM on June 23 [48 favorites]

Wow, it's been 10 years since Conan O'Brien Can't Stop. It was so interesting to get to see his process and his performance.

I'm really glad he's getting to step away from the relentless schedule he's on and move to something more manageable.
posted by kristi at 1:57 PM on June 23

(Also, this is a really interesting interview, and very funny, and I enjoyed it immensely. Thank you very much for posting it, mecran01 !)
posted by kristi at 2:04 PM on June 23 [1 favorite]

It has been great but his deal is a bit confusing. Conan without Borders and his podcast will remain tied to TBS while the talk show format will move to once a week hour long show on HBO Max.

HBO and TBS are both Warner Media companies so it makes sense to me.
posted by Pendragon at 2:15 PM on June 23 [4 favorites]

I used to watch Conan off and on when he was Late Night. I still absolutely love the Walker Texas Ranger lever, and one of those clips is by far the funniest thing I’ve ever seen.

That being said, his main podcast is A LOT of fun. I frequently find myself laughing aloud while I’m listening and the format allows for his guests and team to go off the rails whenever they want. Go to YouTube and look up Sound Effects Theater and embrace the weirdness.
posted by sara is disenchanted at 2:24 PM on June 23 [2 favorites]

As this era comes to a close, will Paul Rudd now finally have the decency to show Conan the promised clip from his new movie?
posted by theory at 2:29 PM on June 23 [9 favorites]

It's a canceled SNL sketch he was part of, but yes.
posted by biogeo at 2:50 PM on June 23 [7 favorites]

posted by whuppy at 2:50 PM on June 23 [4 favorites]

I've been a fan of Conan's for a long time... Long enough that everytime I hear someone use the phrase "in the year 2000," all I can think of is this. He's really just a great comedian, and seems like a good guy. Really enjoyed the article, and need to spend more time delving into the various links.
posted by hydra77 at 2:53 PM on June 23 [8 favorites]

The … Needs a Friend podcast is one of my favorites, especially his interactions with Matt and Sona. Just the right amount of snark while keeping it clear how much they all like each other. In the recent fan episodes he’s so nice to all the random people he talks to and shows a real interest in what they’re up to.
posted by freecellwizard at 3:49 PM on June 23 [2 favorites]

Looking forward to what he does next. I cannot take the standard late night talk show thing anymore. I still tune in to Colbert once in a while, but even he's changed the format some and slowed it down to a more meaningful conversational tone. I don't want to see the latest starlet/hunklet promoting some superhero flick before I go to bed.
posted by SoberHighland at 4:11 PM on June 23

Still as funny today as it was 10 years ago. Don’t blame Conan.
posted by hwyengr at 4:28 PM on June 23 [6 favorites]

Somewhere, the Masturbating Bear is at a respectful half-mast.
posted by delfin at 5:16 PM on June 23 [10 favorites]

Ok, no one blames Conan, but what about Lonnie Donnigan?

I was fortunate to be in the audience for Conan’s second episode of The Tonight Show and my god, the whole place was filled with excitement and enthusiasm and potential. What NBC did to him and his crew is unconscionable.
posted by Servo5678 at 5:28 PM on June 23 [6 favorites]

Arguably TBS gave him a lot more freedom and what was a better space for him. He got $42 million from NBC. I think in the end what happened was best. He always had a goofy kid in a dorm vibe and wasn’t really equipped to go against Leno and NBC with Letterman still lurking in the back of NBC executive’s minds.
posted by geoff. at 6:24 PM on June 23

I worked with him on the Worst Show Ever and he wasn’t all that funny or pleasant.
posted by Ideefixe at 7:40 PM on June 23 [3 favorites]

I was mildly aware of it at the time, but what's the short version of what happened with Conan & NBC?
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 8:07 PM on June 23

One of my favorite music spots of all time ocurred on Conan, David Draiman and Disturbed's version of The Sounds of Silence.
posted by a humble nudibranch at 8:10 PM on June 23 [1 favorite]

Conan was promised the Tonight Show 5 years ahead of Leno’s retirement to prevent another Leno/Letterman incident. He finally got it but wasn’t a huge ratings success immediately, he doesn’t have that Leno middle America boomer thing. Letterman took off and NBC brass got nervous. Leno decided he didn’t want to retire and apparently couldn’t do something else so NBC tried to cut the baby in half giving Leno the first part of the night, bumping Conan to essentially tomorrow on the east coast. Conan rejected it, and you got the feeling he wasn’t happy there anyway. Letterman’s ratings soared. Conan got a huge $42 million severance and a show on TBS. Leno got his old show back for a couple years, it faltered and never achieved the same success. Letterman’s ratings continued to rise. Conan couldn’t be on television for a period of time turning him into even more of an anti-establishment a folk hero. Leno did this all basically to Letterman so there was a sense of repeat. Now Conan is semi-retiring, Leno is coming back as a game show host and Letterman seems to be the only happy retired one.
posted by geoff. at 8:15 PM on June 23 [9 favorites]

Seth Rogan offers Conan a spliff and it's Andy who smokes like a champ

Oh man I thought Jimmy Carr had the most annoying laugh on earth...turns out no.
posted by turbid dahlia at 9:51 PM on June 23 [2 favorites]

I never watched him regularly, but I'm going to miss the Conan and Jordan Schlansky videos. :(
posted by lesser weasel at 12:29 AM on June 24 [6 favorites]

I wonder if Schlansky will show an emotion tonight.
posted by praemunire at 7:36 AM on June 24 [1 favorite]

Still my favorite Conan O'Brien sketch -it's like 30 years old, but I still remember it, and thank the person who recorded it off their VCR and put it on youtube.

Clive Clemmons Inappropriate Response Channel

it's people saying inappropriate things and a '80s guitar guy playing hot solos and then saying 'inappropriate'. It makes no sense.
posted by The_Vegetables at 9:03 AM on June 24 [6 favorites]

Thanks, geoff.
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 9:44 AM on June 24

I feel old.

The end of that line is over there. ↝

Sigh. I still haven't recovered from the loss of Craig Ferguson's Late Late Show.

You and me both, buddy.
posted by y2karl at 11:09 AM on June 24 [2 favorites]

Leno did this all basically to Letterman so there was a sense of repeat

It's funny that when Conan went to TBS, he did to George Lopez what Leno did to him, but no one cared about Lopez Tonight.
posted by riruro at 11:23 AM on June 24

DUDEZ A-PLENTI. OMG. I'd forgotten.
posted by praemunire at 11:47 AM on June 24

Due Buffoni, a favorite of mine from the TBS era.
posted by praemunire at 12:06 PM on June 24

Dudes A-Plenti includes Colton Dunn, Garrett from Superstore!
posted by Pronoiac at 1:19 PM on June 24

riruro: I don't recall Lopez being given Conan's previous talk show, Conan creating a new show and having Lopez's show rescheduled to air his new show, and then completely taking over Lopez's show/Conan's old show. There is certainly a lot to be said about the dominance of white men in the talk show business (I am *so* enjoying Amber Ruffin's show and *so* worried and excited about what will happen as shows return to having a live audience!) but (a) the cancellation of Lopez's show doesn't seem to be anything like what happened to Conan and (b) I'm not sure this is the best thread for that discussion.
posted by ElKevbo at 2:20 PM on June 24 [1 favorite]

Because what happened to him was not at all what happened to Conan. Conan expressed concern about knocking out Lopez, until George Lopez called and asked him to take over his spot. Lopez was cancelled anyway and was a universally panned show.
posted by geoff. at 7:09 PM on June 24

Crowd warmup by Conan. This was his only attempt.
posted by Ideefixe at 9:10 PM on June 24

The final show was largely a clip show, but some bits that should stay up on the Internet: Homer conducts Conan's exit interview, Jack Black injured during rehearsal for a send off, doing a punk/rock version of My Way, Kimmel gets one last dig in at Leno and Conan.
posted by geoff. at 9:31 PM on June 24

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