Conan O'Brien Takes on the City of Angels
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LAC: How is the new show going to be different from Late Night with Conan O’Brien?
CO: We’ve got a lot of funny ideas. I loved doing Late Night, but we had done almost hours of television in New York. Now we’ve come to LA, and it’s a new sandbox, so we have a new burst of energy. We’re also on the Universal lot, which is packed with possibilities.
LAC: What kind of guests are you hoping to bring on the new show?
CO: I’d really like a mix. More important than just having big names on the show I want to have people I like on and who I’m comfortable with—not just movie stars but also really funny comedians and unusual people you haven’t seen a million times. I’d like to get some authors on there. Of course, Will Ferrell is always funny. He and I are compatible, and whenever he’s been on the show it’s been memorable. I just want it to be good. That sounds simple, but I think the best way to do these things is to keep it really simple.
LAC: Which of the classic Late Night bits will make it onto The Tonight Show?
CO: There’s definitely an opportunity to bring some with us. We can bring In the Year 2000, although we’ll probably change the name to In the Year 3000. Triumph [the Insult Comic Dog] can definitely show up. We’ve been debating about the Masturbating Bear but then I think, Madonna has been on [The Tonight Show], and she’s known to masturbate constantly. One’s a bear and one’s a woman. Once we get on the air, I’ll throw a Hail Mary pass every once in a while.
LAC: What do you do when you wake up and don’t feel chatty?
CO: It’s called caffeine. I inject a cappuccino into my heart. Seriously, that happens sometimes, but that’s why it’s called a job. I mostly come in and love doing my job. What usually turns things around for me is the studio audience. When I walk out and there’s an audience there, that’ll get\ me over a 102 fever or a general sense of ennui. I would be screwed without a studio audience.
LAC: You and your family moved into a house in Brentwood. Have you sized up the neighborhood?
CO: Oh yeah. I took my kids to the Brentwood Country Mart, and they loved it. They rode an automated pony for 50 cents. The sushi is incredible out here. And we also love Baja Fresh. Sometimes I like to kick it old school and roll into Baja Fresh and get a soft-shell chicken taco and sit there for hours hoping to be recognized. I wear a t-shirt that reads I AM CONAN O’BRIEN.
LAC: Do you feel yourself becoming more “LA”?
CO: It’s a very sexy town, and I’m already changing my body. I’ve attached 40-pound weights to all of my limbs. I haven’t hit the clubs yet, though. The wife doesn’t often allow me to put on the leather pants.
LAC: Leather pants. Really?
CO: Seriously, years ago a friend gave me a pair of leather pants as a joke. One day I’m going to wear them out with a white ruffled shirt. I want to look like 1968 Jim Morrison. Though I don’t have a posse of other celebrities who will hang out with me. I’m thinking I’d like to get Omar Epps, Harry Dean Stanton and Zac Efron. You have to admit people would say, “Why are these people together?”
photograph by NBC Photo: Mitchell Haaseth;photograph by Mitchell Haaseth, Stephen Colbert and O’Brien
performing an In the Year 2000 skit; photograph by Dana Edelson /NBC (2000 SKIT)