The Arrow

The Student News Site of Westlake High School

The Arrow

The Arrow

Conan O’Brien proves why he “must stay”

Conan O’Brien proves why he must stay
CC BY-SA 2.0

For more than 60 years, hosting a late night talk show has been a coveted position for comedians. Officially starting with Johnny Carson and the creation of The Tonight Show, late night shows and their hosts have captivated American audiences. 

One host in particular, has been overlooked but greatly admired by fellow comedians and comedy lovers, Conan O’Brien. O’Brien has mastered the art of comedy during his run as a late night host and years following his departure from television.

In the lead up to the release of his new show, Conan O’Brien Must Go which streamed on Max on April 18, O’Brien has finally received overdue recognition for his comedy and his innovation of the craft. Through his unprecedented rise to stardom, multiple projects outside of his late night shows and his overall comedic genius, O’Brien proved that his return to the television world is one for the books.

O’Brien has decades of experience as a host and comedian, but actually landing his first show, Late Night with Conan O’Brien, was unprecedented at the time and to this day. First getting his start as a writer for Saturday Night Live and then The Simpsons, O’Brien had rarely been featured on television. In 1993, when NBC was looking for a host to take over their late night show after David Letterman’s untimely departure, O’Brien was asked to audition, according to O’Brien in an episode of his podcast Inside Conan. In a move that would seemingly never be made now, O’Brien landed the gig, despite his limited experience in front of the camera. 

Taking a person who had little on–camera experience and catapulting them into becoming a host of arguably the most successful television franchise is something that would never be done in the entertainment industry today. O’Brien made it a point to remain humble and grateful for the position that he was in, often joking that he had no right to be the host of his show. This trait seemed to appeal to audiences and allowed his show to run for over a decade. 

After hosting his show for 15 years, O’Brien became the new host of The Tonight Show in 2009. He only hosted for seven months, before NBC executives made decisions that ultimately sabotaged O’Brien’s show causing him to leave NBC for good, according to It wasn’t long after that O’Brien found success again, moving to TBS and creating Conan, the late night show which ran from 2010–2021.

Despite his initial limited experience, poor treatment from NBC and various setbacks, O’Brien has become one of most successful comedians of all time. Throughout his time on television and especially in the aftermath of leaving The Tonight Show, he has remained positive and promoted optimism, a trait that is often overlooked by audiences. His comedy has always revolved around positivity and finding the good in people and situations, all the while poking fun at himself and making witty jokes. He has continued this type of comedy in his ventures off television and with his new show. 

O’Brien has found success outside of television as well with the creation of his podcast, Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend in 2018. In his podcast, he conducts interviews with celebrities and his fans alongside his producer Matt Gourley and his assistant Sona Movsesian. 

Due to the format, Conan is able to have more in–depth, hour–long interviews as opposed to the five to ten minute interviews that take place in the late night television format. He proves his interviewing skills exceed what is expected of him and that his comedic skills go far beyond performing quick bits or sketches. He is able to utilize comedy throughout the hour, making celebrities or fans feel more comfortable or helping a guest’s anecdote connect more to the audience. He demonstrates that he does not need a camera for his comedy to be received well by audiences; his voice alone carries his comedic and interviewing skills.

In the latter years of his time at TBS, O’Brien aired a new travel show, Conan Without Borders, which documented O’Brien traveling to different countries to explore their culture, politics and well–known sites. During its run, O’Brien traveled to 13 countries, including Israel, Mexico, Haiti and Armenia. While it might have been easy to create a show that is made entirely of jokes about the country, O’Brien once again makes himself the joke through his constant use of self–deprecating humor. 

Although he usually resorts to humor that makes him seem foolish, like swimming in the Dead Sea in Israel, he also provides intelligent and sincere insight about the country he is in and the people in it. For example, while traveling to Armenia, O’Brien visited a memorial commemorating those lost during the Armenian Genocide. He brought his assistant Sona with him, who is Armenian and allowed the episode to showcase the injustices the people of Armenia have faced and the grief that is carried by Armenian people. 

O’Brien has a gift for balancing silliness and sincerity, something that seems to be lost in most of today’s comedy. He is able to unite the two aspects within his comedy, allowing the audience to feel multiple emotions while still showcasing his optimistic views even in hard times. Conan O’Brien Must Go, based on his first travel show, also features Conan traveling to different countries including Conan meeting a specific fan of his from the country. 

This will be his first creation for television since his TBS show ended nearly three years ago, and it is a return that should be celebrated among all comedy lovers. O’Brien’s past work has proven that he will go down in history as one of the best comedians and television hosts. From early reactions to the show from O’Brien’s colleagues and critics, it is clear that his return to television will only add to his overall success. 

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Arrow

Your donation will support the student journalists of Westlake High School. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
About the Contributor
Grace Hefner
Grace Hefner, Co-Editor-In Chief
Co-Editor in Chief,  she/her Hi! I’m Grace Hefner. I am Co-Editor in Chief of The Arrow and this is my third year on the staff. Previously, I was the Sports Section Editor and News Section Editor. I love being on the Arrow staff because everyone is so supportive and talented, and it is super interesting getting to report about what is happening in the world. Inside the journalism classroom, you will find me complaining to Allison about page designs and InDesign. However, outside of the classroom, you will find me  listening to the music taste of a 45–year–old father.  I am also a certified lifeguard and swim instructor and love being able to teach important life skills to children!
Donate to The Arrow

Comments (0)

All The Arrow Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *