Conan Ends Hour-Long Format, Bids Farewell to Longtime House Band

It’s the end of an era for Conan O’Brien. After 25 years in late-night, the talk show host bid farewell to the traditional hour-long episode format on Thursday, marking the series finale of Conan in its current iteration, ahead of a half-hour relaunch in January 2019.

O’Brien, whose format change was previously reported back in May, dedicated much of the last 60-minute episode to discuss the future of Conan. “Trust me, it’s going to be better,” he said. “We did some testing. People were like, ‘A little less of him would be great!'” All jokes aside, O’Brien assured his audience that the new format would allow him to “spend more time on the things I really love,” including “travel shows around the world, silly remote pieces,” and “interviewing brilliant, distinct people.”

Among the many changes viewers can expect is that O’Brien will no longer be accompanied by Jimmy Vivino and the Basic Cable Band (fka The Max Weinberg 7). “Since we began this show 25 years ago, my band has been a source of joy in my life,” he said. “These remarkable musicians have given their talent, energy, enthusiasm and incredible showmanship for over 4,000 hours.

“I’m a student of late-night television,” O’Brien continued. “I’ve looked at all the shows going back to the 1950s, and I can say this with confidence: I’ve been graced with the most versatile, loyal and joyously effervescent band in the history of television. To put it very simply, I love these guys.” O’Brien then dedicated the final two segments of the broadcast to the Basic Cable Band, who performed two songs, including one with O’Brien.

Ahead of the series revamp, TBS will air the primetime special Conan Without Borders: Japan on Wednesday, November 28 at 10/9c. O’Brien, meanwhile, is set to launch a new podcast, Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend, and embark on an 18-city tour beginning in November. O’Brien has also confirmed the 2019 launch of “Conan 25,” a new website featuring thousands of digitally remastered episodes of Late Night, The Tonight Show and Conan.

Watch highlights from Conan‘s final hour-long episode above and below, then hit the comments with your reactions to the looming format change. 

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