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Conan O'Brien Can't Stop is a 2011 documentary film by Rodman Flender featuring Conan O'Brien and focusing on his comedy tour, The Legally Prohibited from Being Funny on Television Tour, which took place in 2010 following his departure from The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien due to the controversial 2010 Tonight Show conflict.

Conan O'Brien Can't Stop
Conan O'Brien Can't Stop.jpg
Film poster
Directed byRodman Flender
StarringConan O'Brien
Andy Richter
Sona Movsesian
Jimmy Vivino
Scott Healy
Mike Merritt
James Wormworth
Jerry Vivino
Mark Pender
Richie Rosenberg
Rachael L. Hollingsworth
Fredericka Meek
Release date
  • June 24, 2011 (2011-06-24) (United States)
Running time
89 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$267,965 (US)[1]

Flender is O'Brien's friend and Harvard classmate.[2]


O'Brien promoting the film at the 2011 SXSW convention

The film opens with a short segment explaining the events which transpired to culminate in O'Brien's launch of the Legally Prohibited Tour. It focuses on the rift with NBC and the outpouring of support shown by his fans while the fiasco played out.

The documentary continues with O'Brien explaining that the idea for the tour came to them while thinking of things they could do in the six months after his exit from NBC, during which time he was legally prohibited from appearing on television, radio or the Internet.[3] The following segments show glimpses of the thought process for the tour, and then an extremely nervous Conan and team members as they wait in realtime to see the results of whether or not their show would sell. All the venues begin to sell out at a fast pace and the stage is set for them to proceed with the planning of the tour.

The rest of the documentary details the creative process behind various jokes/musical acts by O'Brien's team. In between segments of the live show, the film depicts Conan interacting with fans, attending functions, hosting an entire day at Bonnaroo and encounters with celebrities (such as Jon Hamm, Jack McBrayer, Jack Black, Kyle Gass, Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, Jim Carrey and Eddie Vedder, the latter four appearing on the show) are shown — not all of which are pleasant for an increasingly exhausted O'Brien as the tour progresses. O'Brien worries that he will get burned out and be unable to return to television, leaving his team without jobs. He holds a secret show for his fans at the studio of Jack White, with White participating in the show itself.

During the film there is little interviewing between Conan and director Rodman Flender, though the few questions that are captured are answered in great detail. A constant companion during the entire documentary is O'Brien's personal assistant, Sona Movsesian, with whom he shares humorous (yet occasionally passive aggressive) banter till the close of the film.[4]

The documentary ends with a title card displaying the end date of the tour and that Conan had a few weeks off before starting his next assignment as the host of his cable talk show at TBS, a shot of Conan walking out onto the studio stage after the Conan theme is played by the band is shown after the title card. A performance at Jack White's studio is played while the credits roll.


The documentary was given a limited release, and it was generally well-received by film critics. At movie review website Rotten Tomatoes, the film has received an aggregated score of 80% from 70 reviews.[5] Film critic Roger Ebert gave the documentary three out of four stars, stating, "To be sure, NBC paid him $40 million in a send-off package, but the Conan O'Brien we see in the film wasn't in it for the money. He was in it because he can't stop."[6] The New York Times review by Stephen Holden was critical of the film's subject and its direction which left much of the tour's performances off camera, stating, "The film spends too much time with Mr. O'Brien and his team backstage, where he is the needy focus of attention at all times."[7] Holden did state though, that as a whole, the documentary is "consistently watchable".[7]


  1. ^ "Conan O'Brien Can't Stop". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2012-05-21.
  2. ^ Itzkoff, Dave (2011-03-11). "A Documentary Reveals the Dark Side of Conan O'Brien". The New York Times. Retrieved 2015-07-28.
  3. ^ Carter, Bill (April 13, 2010). "Conan O'Brien Is a Hit on the Road". The New York Times. Retrieved September 30, 2018.
  4. ^ Rosenberg, Alyssa (2011-06-24). "'Conan O'Brien Can't Stop,' Is a Pretty Great Look at a Comedian At Work". Think Progress. Retrieved 2015-09-03.
  5. ^ "Conan O'Brien Can't Stop". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2013-07-02.
  6. ^ Ebert, Roger. "Conan O'Brien Can't Stop". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2011-07-27.
  7. ^ a b Holden, Stephen (2011-06-23). "Conan O'Brien Can't Stop (2011)". The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-07-27.

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