Wednesday night viewers of Late Night with Jimmy Fallon were witness to the brief return of Conan O’Brien to NBC. O’Brien, temporarily back in New York, is prepping for a week-long run of his TBS show at the Beacon Theater, starting on October 31.
While barely two minutes in length, the short visit made for a great TV moment, along the lines of Paul Newman’s “Where the hell are the singing cats?” bit (shown in this YouTube clip at the 6:55 mark) from David Letterman’s first CBS show back in 1993. Wednesday night’s Conan appearance clearly took the audience by surprise. But he and Fallon were savvy enough to interact for so brief a time, it did not become awkward for the audience.
The visit ended with Conan retrieving Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog, from behind one of Jimmy’s sofa cushions. Judging by the comments section at the TeamCoco blog many Conan fans hope that this is a sign that Triumph might be returning to the show’s comedic team. (Oddly enough, TeamCoco fans seemed divided on the fact that Conan had grown a beard again while on vacation).
When Conan left NBC in early 2010, NBC forbid Conan from using certain characters (The Masturbating Bear, for example) in his post-NBC creative pursuits, as the network claimed intellectual ownership of characters and sketches developed as part of the show. In terms of intellectual property, however, there is some question if NBC actually owned Triumph, given that the character was developed by Robert Smigel.
Back when I saw Conan in the final Atlanta stop of his 2010 Legally Prohibited from Being Funny on Television Tour, I was surprised to see a taped Triumph bit, as well as a Walker, Texas Ranger clip montage (though the Lever was renamed the Chuck Norris, Rural Policeman Handle). Of course, this was not on television. But I still hold out hope (along with many other Conan fans) that the physical retrieval of Triumph might be a precursor to his comedic return on Conan. Time will tell.
Thanks to a tip from Pop Candy, I found out about a multi-source interview regarding the history of the Upright Citizens Brigade in New York magazine. But my favorite interview from it may be with Conan O’Brien. Consider this snippet.
One night they asked me to do the [“ASSSSCAT”] monologue, and I said, “What happens?” Because I’m a guy who likes to prepare. And they said, “Don’t prepare—just take a word from the audience, start talking, and see what happens.” So someone shouted out “Dog!” and I started telling this story about a night that I pissed my dad off because I refused to take the dog out, and how he blew up—how I could hear him running down the stairs to get me. I told it in this comedic way, and people were really laughing, but I realized that I had, like, a sense memory of this big conflict I’d had with my dad in 1979. It was actually therapeutic.
Thanks to a tip from one of my many smart nephews and nieces (David J, I am looking at you, young sir), I tracked down Conan O’Brien’s Septmeber 13 interview with Roseanne Barr. Barr was swinging for the fences in this odd nine-minute clip, I guess in an effort to get people to watch the final installment (since aired) of her show, Roseanne’s Nutson Lifetime. (Be advised, this interview has some foul language around the 8 minute mark)
By the time she gets around to talking about “little people’s stem cells” it becomes obvious she was hoping to generate controversy. It’s a mixture of desperation and mildly amusing.
Apparently online with the old Conan show (at NBC) they posted Rehearsal Outtakes (a great idea). I had never realized that. They have resumed the tradition as of this week at the new Conan on TBS, with a new online feature called Scraps. Here’s thefirst one.