Conan O’Brien Makes His Triumphant Return to Late Night Television


James Cullinane

 From 1993 to 2009, Conan O’Brien, a native of Brookline, Massachusetts, hosted “Late Night” on NBC.  “Late Night”, which followed the “Tonight Show with Jay Leno” soon possessed a large following of fans, many of whom believed O’Brien’s talk show was indeed funnier and more relevant than that of Leno.  In 2004, Conan renegotiated his contract with NBC, which assured that O’Brien would be the next host of “The Tonight Show”.  Conan’s cult-like following, which consisted largely of a young audience, greatly anticipated Conan’s time to shine.

  O’Brien’s time in the spotlight would be short lived as he left NBC due to scheduling conflict with the network, as well as poor ratings.  Public outcry favored O’Brien, demanding that he return to late night television. 

  On November 8, 2010, O’Brien made his long awaited return to late night television with “Conan”, a new TBS talk show.  Conan’s dancing, sound effect making, and often awkward monologues have finally returned to television, along with his trademark hair cut and newly added beard. 

  “Conan’s” pilot episode began with a lengthy sketch revolving around O’Brien’s forced removal from network television.  O’Brien’s first monolouge on TBS falls short of his usual clever comedy, and becomes very repetitive.  Viewers easily become irritated as O’Brien bashes NBC time after time.

  “Conan” brings back previous staples of “Late Night”, including timeless characters and a strong relationship with his audience.  Andy Richter also returns to his role as O’Brien’s sidekick, a role which he fulfilled  to perfection in the early days of “Late Night”.

  O’Brien’s first guest could not have been more fitting, as he welcomed actor and comic Seth Rogen.  The back-and-forth banter between  Rogen and O’Brien proved to viewers that O’Brien had not missed a beat in his six month hiatus from late night.  

  “Glee” star Lea Michele then sat down with O’Brien, bringing about the trademark awkwardness which made “Late Night” so popular amongst young viewers.

  O’Brien, a one-time musician, then played guitar and sang alongside musical quest Jack White.

  In a way, one could say that “Conan” is essentially the same old show, lacking enough luster to overcome programming on premium channels such as Starz and HBO, along with Comedy Central talk shows.  Does “Conan” have what it takes to remain a staple of late night television?  This question can only be answered by its 47 year old host whom has captured the hearts of so many over the years.