Article first published as Conan O’Brien Visits NBC’s Jimmy Fallon on Technorati.
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.