Once a Letterman wannabe, Conan O’Brien truly came out on his own. He was the host of Late Night with Conan O’Brien which ran successfully for 14 seasons, and The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien for less than one season.
There’s no doubt about it — Conan has blossomed from a virtual unknown to one of the cornerstones of late night comedy. He has been currently hosting his most recent late night talk show, simply titled Conan, since 2010. Get to know everyone’s favorite redhead with more facts that you probably didn’t know!
Conan went to great lengths just to show his full support towards the marriage of one of his staff members. In 2011, he was ordained a minister by the Universal Life Church Monastery which would allow him to perform same-sex marriages in New York, where it is legal. Conan officiated a marriage between his staff member and his partner, and the ceremony was even broadcast on Conan.
When Conan took over the Late Night seat after former host David Letterman moved to CBS, NBC initially had zero confidence in his capabilities. That’s why the network offered the ex-The Simpsons and SNL writer a weekly contract as they were looking for a replacement. That didn’t happen, of course, and Conan stayed for the next 13 seasons.
Conan had some high expectations to meet within his family. His father, Thomas Francis, is a epidemiologist and a medical professor at Harvard University. His mother, Ruth, is a lawyer.
Conan himself is also impressive. He studied history and literature at Harvard and graduated there magna cum laude. During his college years O’Brien served as president for the satirical magazine The Harvard Lampoon. He is one proof that funny people tend to have big brains!
Even while attending Harvard, Conan still got a kick out of pulling a lot of pranks. The Harvard Lampoon, where he served as president, invited actor Burt Ward to speak at the university. Ward also decided to bring his 1960s Batman and Robin‘s Robin costume along.
While Ward was giving his speech, his Robin cape disappeared. It turned out that Conan masterminded the staged heist — he and his henchmen posed as fake security guards. Luckily, Ward took it in stride, and hours later Conan returned the costume to him.
Fans of Late Night will surely and fondly remember Stacey, the dorky kid “sister” of Conan’s sidekick Andy Richter. Wearing scary-looking head braces, Stacy had a huge crush on Conan, and her admiration (or obsession) towards him was both sweet and terrifying.
Comedian Amy Poehler would guest-star as Stacy a lot of times on Late Night. Of course, Poehler is now known as one of the cast members of Saturday Night Live.
Even if you’re a famous comedian like Conan, having stalkers who terrorize you on and off the clock is otherwise no laughing matter!
In 2006, Conan had been reportedly stalked by a priest in Boston named Father David Ajemian. After being denied a place in the Late Night audience, Ajemian became furious. As a result, he sent the talk show host a barrage of letters, always ending each of them with “your priest stalker,” and even hinted at a death threat. He also contacted Conan’s parents.
Ajemian was apprehended and arrested while he was trying to force his way into the NBC studios. After he stood trial, he pleaded guilty. He was also ordered to sign a 2-year restraining order which prohibited him from having any contact with Conan.
Conan briefly took over The Tonight Show in 2009, after its longtime host Jay Leno’s contract expired. He later found himself tangled in the middle of the “late night” conflict/PR mess in 2010 which prompted him to leave NBC. He then moved to TBS network to host his eponymous show Conan, a return to his late-night roots.
The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien‘s first guest was Will Ferrell, while Pearl Jam was the show’s first musical act.
Conan was also the oldest person to be named as The Tonight Show‘s new host (he was 46 at the time).
Hanks began to call Conan “Coco” while guesting The Tonight Show. Something which Conan — or Coco — wasn’t at all thrilled about. But the nickname stuck.
Some people who worked for Conan O’Brien during his Late Night years have become successful in their own right. They include Bob Odenkirk (best known for his role as Saul Goodman in Breaking Bad), John Krasinski of The Office (who used to be an intern for Late Night), and Louis CK.
When Conan was offered to host Late Night, The Simpsons producers tried to make him stay as he still had one more year on his contract to fulfill. However, NBC agreed to pay half of Conan’s salary for the whole remaining year, and Conan paid the other half — it cost him up to $130,000. Fortunately, his decision to become a late night talk show host turned out quite favorably on his part.