Conan continues to revolutionize comedy

American television host Mr. Conan O’Brien’s creative vision is prevalent in his work.  In an episode of The Nerdiest Podcast, Mr. O’Brien reflects that in order to be creative, there needs to be struggle.  The most creative work is uncommon, and the really great work is rare.  The host demonstrates the constant yet necessary struggle for “really great work” in his revolutionary approach to comedy.

Mr. Conan O’Brien interviews American stand-up comedian Mr. John Mulaney March 20, 2019. Courtesy of

Mr. O’Brien is dedicated to his craft.  His spunky charisma promotes his comedic style: focused, rhythm-based, and of course, funny.  During the fall of 2018, Mr. O’Brien discontinued his popular late-night talk show, “Conan.”  In 2019, Mr. O’Brien decided to revamp his previous show, cutting the hour-long skit to a shorter comedic act of about 21 minutes, according to      

From a young age, Mr. O’Brien knew that comedy was his outlet.  A reserved child and not involved in sports, he found that he was very gifted at making people laugh.  He took it and ran with it. 

Mr. O’Brien began his late-night television career 26 years ago after graduating from Harvard University in 1985.  His solo-comedy gig “Conan” premiered in 2010, airing every Monday through Thursday on Turner Broadcasting System (TBS), according to  

The revival of “Conan” aired January 22, 2019.  Critics expected the reboot to be divergent to the majority of late-night television shows, according to The New York Times.  Mr. O’Brien eliminated the traditional desk, house band, and cut down the show’s running time to half an hour.  Mr. O’Brien follows a strict yet simple philosophy when producing comedy: he keeps his head down and makes content.

A glimpse of the set for “Conan” in the Warner Bros. Entertainment Incorporated lot in Burbank, California. Courtesy of Mrs. Allison Hanna

“Ignore the madness.  Is it funny?  Does it feel right?  Would this make me laugh?” Mr. O’Brien said in an interview with the King Street Chronicle

Although he is an old school late-night talk show host, Mr. O’Brien is making immense efforts to modernize comedy.  Mr. O’Brien notes that the essence of the genre, guests spending time with a host, will never change.

In an attempt to reach the more modern consumption of media, Mr. O’Brien realized that many of his young viewers watch clips posted on sites such as YouTube the day after the show airs.  He adjusted to the evolving presentation of late-night television, inspiring him to shorten his skits.

“So, if that’s the case, I’m going to focus my efforts on making less (hence 30 minutes) but with a higher concentration of stuff that I like (comedy and one guest I really want to speak with),” Mr. O’Brien said. 

Today, a veteran in his field, Mr. O’Brien believes that comedy is all about rhythm.
“I love the adrenaline rush of having an idea at 3:30, taping it an hour later, and seeing it on the air that night,” Mr. O’Brien said.

Regardless of the format, Mr. O’Brien loves his job.

“Time will tell if I am right, but in the meantime, I’m having fun and making stuff, which has always been the dream,” Mr. O’Brien said. 

Featured Image by Amelia Sheehan ’20