After 25 years, O’Brien bid farewell to the traditional hour-long format last October. At the time, he said that a 30-minute show would allow him to do “a higher percentage of the comedy in, and out, of the studio that I love,” which “seems to resonate in this new digital world.” That includes his critically acclaimed Conan Without Borders travelogue (now streaming on Netflix), as well as the podcast Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend and his recently ended comedy tour.
“We’re back with a 30-minute show, [but] I don’t want you to worry about that,” O’Brien said at the top of his monologue. “It may only be 30 minutes, but I assure you, it’s going to feel like two hours.”
What followed was the first sketch of this new era: a This Is Us parody that starred O’Brien and perennial sidekick Andy Richter as longtime marrieds struggling to adjust to the format change, and Milo Ventimiglia, who made a surprise cameo as O’Brien’s secret love child.
The 30-minute Conan — which has already been renewed through 2022 — still features a traditional monologue and a celebrity interview. (O’Brien’s first guest was Tom Hanks, who coined “Team Coco” during the Tonight Show debacle of 2010.) Gone are O’Brien’s desk and Richter’s podium, as well as the accompaniment of Jimmy Vivino and the Basic Cable Band. O’Brien also debuted a new, casual look, which he described as “hip biology teacher.”
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