Conan Christopher O'Brien (born April 18, 1963) is an American television host, comedian, writer, podcaster, and producer. He is best known for having hosted late-night talk shows for almost 28 years, beginning with Late Night with Conan O'Brien (1993–2009) and The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien (2009–2010) on the NBC television network, and Conan (2010–2021) on the cable channel TBS. Before his hosting career, he was a writer for Saturday Night Live (1988–1991) and The Simpsons (1991–1993).
|Birth name||Conan Christopher O'Brien|
|Born||April 18, 1963|
Brookline, Massachusetts, U.S.
|Alma mater||Harvard University|
Elizabeth Ann Powel
|Notable works and roles|
Born in Brookline, Massachusetts, O'Brien was raised in an Irish Catholic family. He served as president of The Harvard Lampoon while attending Harvard University, and was a writer for the sketch comedy series Not Necessarily the News. After writing for several comedy shows in Los Angeles, he joined the writing staff of Saturday Night Live. O'Brien was a writer and producer for The Simpsons for two seasons until he was commissioned by NBC to take over David Letterman's position as host of Late Night in 1993. A virtual unknown to the public, O'Brien's initial Late Night tenure received unfavorable reviews and remained on a multiweek renewal cycle during its early years. The show generally improved over time and was highly regarded by the time of his departure in 2009. Afterwards, O'Brien moved from New York to Los Angeles to host his own incarnation of The Tonight Show for seven months until network politics prompted a host change in 2010. After this departure, O'Brien hosted a 32-city live comedy tour, which was the subject of the documentary, Conan O'Brien Can't Stop. He then hosted Conan from 2010 to 2021. He has also hosted such events as the Emmy Awards and Christmas in Washington.
Known for his spontaneous hosting style, which has been characterized as "awkward, self-deprecating humor", O'Brien's late-night programs combine the "lewd and wacky with more elegant, narrative-driven short films (remotes)". With the retirement of David Letterman on May 20, 2015, O'Brien became the longest-working late-night talk show host active in the United States. This active streak ended with O'Brien's retirement from late-night television in June 2021, with his entire run as a late-night host lasting almost 28 years. Conan was named one of Time's 100 Most Influential People in 2010.
O'Brien was born on April 18, 1963, in Brookline, Massachusetts. His father, Thomas Francis O'Brien (b. 1929), is a physician, epidemiologist, and professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. His mother, Ruth O'Brien (née Reardon; b. 1931), is a retired attorney and former partner at the Boston firm Ropes & Gray. O'Brien has three brothers and two sisters.
O'Brien attended Brookline High School, where he served as the managing editor of the school newspaper, The Sagamore. In his second year, he was an intern for Congressman Robert Drinan and in his senior year, he won the National Council of Teachers of English writing contest with his short story "To Bury the Living".
After graduating as valedictorian in 1981, O'Brien entered Harvard University. He lived in Holworthy Hall during his first year with future businessman Luis Ubiñas and two other roommates, and in Mather House during his three upper-class years. He concentrated in History & Literature, and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree magna cum laude in 1985. O'Brien's senior thesis, entitled Literary Progeria in the Works of William Faulkner and Flannery O'Connor, concerned the use of children as symbols in the works of William Faulkner and Flannery O'Connor. During college, O'Brien briefly played drums in a band called the Bad Clams, was a writer for the Harvard Lampoon humor magazine, and developed a spoof of the video game One on One: Dr. J vs. Larry Bird in which the Boston Celtics play against a classical ballet troupe. During his sophomore and junior years, he served as the Lampoon's president. At this time, O'Brien's future boss at NBC, Jeff Zucker, was serving as president of the school newspaper The Harvard Crimson.
Saturday Night Live (1988–1991)
After graduating from Harvard, O'Brien moved to Los Angeles to join the writing staff of HBO's Not Necessarily the News. He was also a writer on the short-lived The Wilton North Report. He spent two years with that show and performed regularly with improvisational groups, including The Groundlings. In January 1988, Saturday Night Live (SNL) executive producer Lorne Michaels hired O'Brien as a writer. During his three years on SNL, he wrote such recurring sketches as "Mr. Short-Term memory" and "The Girl Watchers"; the latter was first performed by Tom Hanks and Jon Lovitz.
While on a writers' strike from Saturday Night Live following the 1987–88 season, O'Brien put on an improvisational comedy revue in Chicago with fellow SNL writers Bob Odenkirk and Robert Smigel called Happy Happy Good Show. While living in Chicago, O'Brien briefly roomed with Jeff Garlin. In 1989, O'Brien and his fellow SNL writers received an Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing in a Comedy or Variety Series.
O'Brien, like many SNL writers, occasionally appeared as an extra in sketches; his most notable appearance was as a doorman in a sketch in which Tom Hanks was inducted into the SNL "Five-Timers Club" for hosting his fifth episode. O'Brien returned to host the show in 2001 during its 26th season. O'Brien and Robert Smigel wrote the television pilot for Lookwell starring Adam West, which aired on NBC in 1991. The pilot never went to series, but it became a cult hit. It was later screened at The Other Network, a festival of unaired TV pilots produced by Un-Cabaret; it featured an extended interview with O'Brien and was rerun in 2002 on the Trio network.
In 1991, O'Brien's engagement to be married was called off and Lookwell was not picked up. Burned out, he quit Saturday Night Live. "I told Lorne Michaels I couldn't come back to work and I just needed to do something else," O'Brien recalled. "I had no plan whatsoever. I was literally in this big transition phase in my life where I decided, I'll just walk around New York City, and an idea will come to me."
The Simpsons (1991–1993)
I was very nervous when I started. They showed me into this office and told me to start writing down some ideas. They left me alone in that office. I left after five minutes to go get a cup of coffee. I heard a crash. I walked back to the office, and there was a hole in the window and a dead bird on the floor. Literally, in my first ten minutes at The Simpsons, a bird had flown through the glass of my window, hit the far wall, broken its neck, and fallen dead on the floor. George Meyer came in and looked at it, and said, "Man, this is some kind of weird omen."
— O'Brien on his first moments at The Simpsons
Mike Reiss and Al Jean, then showrunners of the animated sitcom The Simpsons, called O'Brien and offered him a job. The series was prestigious in the writing community at the time; O'Brien recalls "everyone wanted to be on that show, but they never hired." O'Brien was one of the first hires after the show's original crew. With the help of old Groundlings friend, actor Lisa Kudrow, O'Brien purchased an apartment in Beverly Hills. He and Kudrow became involved as well, and Kudrow believed he should begin performing rather than writing. O'Brien disagreed, feeling that Kudrow was flattering him and asserting he was happy as a writer. In his speech given at Class Day at Harvard in 2000, O'Brien credited The Simpsons with saving him, a reference to the career slump he was experiencing before being hired for the show.
From 1991 to 1993, O'Brien was a writer and producer for The Simpsons. When O'Brien first arrived at the Fox lot, they temporarily gave him writer Jeff Martin's office. O'Brien was nervous and self-conscious, feeling that he would embarrass himself in front of what he regarded as an intimidating collection of writers. O'Brien would pitch characters in their voices, as he thought that was the norm, until Reiss informed him that no one did this. He fit in quickly, commanding control of the room frequently; writer Josh Weinstein called it a "ten-hour Conan show, nonstop". According to John Ortved, one of his fellow writers said that Conan had been a shoo-in to take over as showrunner.
O'Brien wrote some of the series' most acclaimed episodes: "Marge vs. the Monorail" and "Homer Goes to College". The show was initially a highly realistic family sitcom; after O'Brien's debut, the show took a rapid shift in the direction of the surreal. O'Brien also has sole writing credits on "New Kid on the Block" and "Treehouse of Horror IV", on which he wrote the episode wraparounds. Wallace Wolodarsky described a "room character" Conan put on for the writers: "Conan used to do this thing called the Nervous Writer that involved him opening a can of Diet Coke and then nervously pitching a joke. He would spray Diet Coke all over himself, and that was always a source of endless amusement among us." During his time at The Simpsons, O'Brien also had a side project working with Smigel on the script for a musical film based on the "Hans and Franz" sketch from Saturday Night Live, but the film was never produced.
Meanwhile, David Letterman was preparing to leave the talk show Late Night, prompting executive producer Lorne Michaels to search for a new host. Michaels approached O'Brien to produce; then-agent Gavin Polone stressed that O'Brien wanted to perform, rather than produce. He arranged with Michaels that O'Brien would do a test audition on the stage of The Tonight Show. Jason Alexander and Mimi Rogers were the guests, and the audience was composed of Simpsons writers. Wolodarksky recalled the experience: "Seeing this friend of yours, this guy that you worked with, walk out from behind that curtain and deliver a monologue was like something you could only dream up that you couldn't ever imagine actually happening." The performance was beamed by satellite to New York, where Lorne Michaels and NBC executives watched.
O'Brien was picked as the new host of Late Night on April 26, 1993. As the writers headed to the voice record for "Homer Goes to College", O'Brien received a phone call from Polone informing him of the decision. "He was passed out facedown into this horrible shag carpet. He was just quiet and comatose down there on that carpet," recalled postproduction supervisor Michael Mendel. "I remember looking at him and saying, 'Wow. Your life is about to change, in a really dramatic way.'" Fox, however, would not let O'Brien out of his contract. Eventually, NBC and O'Brien split the cost to get him out of the contract. After O'Brien's departure, the writers at The Simpsons would watch videotaped episodes of Late Night at lunch the day following their midnight broadcast and analyze them.
Late Night (1993–2009)
Late Night with Conan O'Brien, originating from Studio 6A at 30 Rockefeller Plaza in New York City, premiered on September 13, 1993, to unfavorable reviews from contemporary critics. This reception was not completely unsurprising; O'Brien wrote a self-deprecating The New York Times piece titled "O'Brien Flops!" on the day of the show's premiere. Critics attacked O'Brien: Tom Shales of The Washington Post suggested that "the host resume his previous identity, Conan O'Blivion." Generally, critics viewed O'Brien as nervous and fidgety on-camera, and that he was "too smart, too East Coast, too sophisticated, too young and even too tall to be successful." The show was constantly at risk for cancellation; at one low point in 1994, NBC threatened to put him on a week-to-week contract. Executives were anxious to replace him with Greg Kinnear, who followed O'Brien with Later at 1:30 am. Interns filled empty seats in the audience while affiliates began to inquire about replacement hosts. In one installment after a short stretch of reruns, sidekick Andy Richter described his vacation activities as follows: "I sat back and reminded myself what it's like to be unemployed." The in-joke alluded to the rumors floating in the trades that NBC was near canceling the program.
Late Night under O'Brien slowly but steadily acquired commercial and critical success. Banter between O'Brien and Richter improved, and sketches grew in popularity ("If They Mated", "Desk Drive", "In the Year 2000"). A reliable staple involved a TV screen, lowered behind O'Brien's desk and displaying a still photo of a news figure. The lips and voice of these characters – frequently a party-crazed hillbilly interpretation of Bill Clinton – were supplied by writing partner Robert Smigel. A turning point was David Letterman's February 1994 appearance. "It was a morale boost," said O'Brien. "I'm thinking, If the guy who created the 12:30 thing comes on and says we're smart and funny, let's go." The show went through a wobble in January 1995 when Robert Smigel, feeling burned out, quit as head writer. The show's quality improved slowly over time, and most credit O'Brien's growing comedic performance. Within a year, a comedic formula began to arise: the show would combine the lewd and wacky with a more elegant, narrative-driven remotes. Regular characters would typically include a "Masturbating Bear" and a famous remote found Conan visit a historic, Civil War-era baseball league. That piece was one of O'Brien's personal favorites, later remarking, "When I leave this earth, at the funeral, just show this, because this pretty much says who I'm all about."
O'Brien's audience, largely young and male (a coveted demographic), grew steadily and the show began to best competitors in the ratings, which it would continue to do for 15 seasons. In the early days of the Internet, fans launched unofficial websites, compiling precise summaries of each episode. Even Tom Shales was a convert: he called the show "one of the most amazing transformations in television history." Beginning in 1996, O'Brien and the Late Night writing team were nominated annually for the Emmy Award for Best Writing in a Comedy or Variety Series, winning the award for the first and only time in 2007. In 1997, 2000, 2002, 2003, and 2004, he and the Late Night writing staff won the Writers Guild Award for Best Writing in a Comedy/Variety Series. In 2001, he formed his own television production company, Conaco, which subsequently shared in the production credits for Late Night.
As of October 2005[update], Late Night with Conan O'Brien had for eleven years consistently attracted an audience averaging about 2.5 million viewers. The apotheosis of the Late Night remotes centered on the realization, in 2006, that O'Brien bore a striking resemblance to Tarja Halonen, entering her second term as president of Finland. Capitalizing on the resemblance and on the 2006 Finnish presidential election, O'Brien and Late Night aired mock political ads both in support of Halonen and against her main opponent, which influenced popular perception of the race, and traveled to Finland shortly after the election. "We took the show to Helsinki for five days," O'Brien recalled, "where we were embraced like a national treasure." As part the five-day trip, which was released as a one-hour special episode of Late Night, O'Brien met with Halonen at the Finnish Presidential Palace.
During the writers' strike in 2008, O'Brien staged a mock feud with Comedy Central's Jon Stewart (of The Daily Show) and Stephen Colbert (of The Colbert Report) over a dispute about which of the three were responsible for giving a "bump" to Mike Huckabee's campaign to become the Republican presidential nominee. This feud crossed over all three shows during the 2007–08 Writers Guild of America strike.
On February 20, 2009, NBC aired the last episode of Late Night with Conan O'Brien. The show consisted of a compilation of previous Late Night clips and included a surprise appearance by former sidekick Andy Richter. Will Ferrell, John Mayer, and the White Stripes also appeared. O'Brien ended the episode by destroying the set with an axe, handing out the pieces of the set to the audience, and thanking a list of people who helped him get to that point in his career. Among those thanked were Lorne Michaels, David Letterman, Jay Leno, and O'Brien's wife and children.
In 2019, clips from O'Brien's time on Late Night began to appear on his TBS website and on the Team Coco YouTube Channel.
The Tonight Show (2009–2010)
O'Brien hosted The Tonight Show for more than seven months in 2009 and 2010. As part of a new contract negotiated with NBC in 2004, the network decided that O'Brien would take over The Tonight Show from Jay Leno in 2009. Hosting The Tonight Show was a lifelong dream of O'Brien's, and the promise of succeeding Leno kept him in NBC's employ despite the fact that he likely could have secured a more lucrative deal at another network. O'Brien was a guest on Jay Leno's final episode of The Tonight Show. On June 1, 2009, Will Ferrell became Conan's first Tonight Show guest on the couch and Pearl Jam appeared as his first musical guest.
Conan acquired the nickname "Coco" after its use in the first "Twitter Tracker" sketch during the second episode of his Tonight Show run. Guest Tom Hanks used the nickname during his subsequent interview, even getting the audience to chant it. In reaction to the moniker, Conan remarked to Hanks in jest, "If that catches on, I'll sue you."
During the taping of the Friday, September 25, 2009, episode of The Tonight Show, O'Brien suffered from a mild concussion after he slipped and hit his head while running a race as part of a comedy sketch with guest Teri Hatcher. He was examined at a hospital and released the same day. A rerun was aired that night, but O'Brien returned to work the following Monday and poked fun at the incident.
By January 2010, O'Brien's ratings for The Tonight Show were much lower than they had been when the show was hosted by Jay Leno. On January 7, 2010, NBC executive Jeff Zucker met with Jay Leno and Conan O'Brien to discuss how to move Leno out of prime time, where his ratings were lackluster, and back into late night. It was proposed that O'Brien would remain as host of The Tonight Show, which would run at 12:05 am with Leno hosting a 30-minute show at 11:35 pm. Three days later, NBC Universal Television Entertainment chairman Jeff Gaspin confirmed that The Jay Leno Show would be moved to 11:35 pm following NBC's coverage of the 2010 Winter Olympics.
Every comedian, every comedian dreams of hosting The Tonight Show and—for seven months—I got to do it. I did it my way, with people I love, and I do not regret a second [of it].... All I ask is one thing, and I'm asking this particularly of young people that watch: Please do not be cynical. I hate cynicism; for the record it's my least favorite quality. It doesn't lead anywhere. Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get. But if you work really hard and you're kind, amazing things will happen.
—Conan O'Brien, on his departure from The Tonight Show, January 22, 2010
Sources familiar with the situation told the New York Post that O'Brien was unhappy with NBC's plan. On January 12, O'Brien released this statement: "I sincerely believe that delaying The Tonight Show into the next day to accommodate another comedy program will seriously damage what I consider to be the greatest franchise in the history of broadcasting. The Tonight Show at 12:05 simply isn't The Tonight Show." On January 21, 2010, it was announced that Conan had reached a deal with NBC that would see him exit The Tonight Show the next day. The deal also granted him $45 million, of which $12 million was designated for distribution to his staff, who had moved with Conan to Los Angeles from New York when he left Late Night.
The final Tonight Show with Conan aired January 22, 2010, and featured guests Tom Hanks, Steve Carell (who did an exit interview and shredded Conan's ID badge), Neil Young (singing "Long May You Run"), and Will Ferrell. For Ferrell's appearance, Conan played guitar with the band and Ferrell sang "Free Bird" while reprising his SNL cowbell. Ferrell's wife, Viveca Paulin, together with Ben Harper, Beck, and ZZ Top guitarist Billy Gibbons, also joined the band for this final performance.
Jay Leno returned to The Tonight Show following NBC's coverage of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games. Under the $45 million deal with NBC, Conan was allowed to start working for another network as soon as September 2010. Conan's rumored next networks ranged from Fox to Comedy Central. Other networks reportedly interested in O'Brien included TNT, HBO, FX, Showtime, Revision3, and even the NBC Universal–owned USA Network.
On February 8, 2010, it was reported that O'Brien was attempting to sell his Central Park West penthouse in New York with an asking price of $35 million. He had purchased the apartment in 2007 for $10 million. Two years earlier, O'Brien had purchased a home in the Brentwood section of Los Angeles for over $10.5 million. Some industry insiders have speculated that O'Brien had chosen to stay on the west coast in order to facilitate a return to late night television and because he did not want to put his children through another move.
O'Brien was included in the 2010 Time 100, a list compiled by Time of the 100 most influential people in the world as voted on by readers. After being prohibited from making television appearances of any kind until May, O'Brien spoke about the Tonight Show conflict on the CBS newsmagazine 60 Minutes on May 2, 2010. During the interview with Steve Kroft, O'Brien said the situation felt "like a marriage breaking up suddenly, violently, quickly. And I was just trying to figure out what happened." He also said he "absolutely" expected NBC to give him more of a chance and that, if in Jay Leno's position, he would not have come back to The Tonight Show. However, Conan said he did not feel unfortunate. "It's crucial to me that anyone seeing this, if they take anything away from this, it's I'm fine. I'm doing great," said O'Brien. "I hope people still find me comedically absurd and ridiculous. And I don't regret anything."
On March 11, 2010, O'Brien announced via his Twitter account that he would embark on a 30-city live tour beginning April 12, 2010, entitled, "The Legally Prohibited from Being Funny on Television Tour". Co-host Andy Richter, along with members of the former Tonight Show Band, joined O'Brien on the tour. Max Weinberg, however, was not able to join, except for a guest appearance at one of Conan's New York City shows.
On April 12, 2010, O'Brien opened his two-month comedy tour in Eugene, Oregon, with a crowd of 2,500 and no TV cameras. The tour traveled through America's Northwest and Canada before moving on to larger cities, including Los Angeles and New York City, where he performed on the campuses that house both of the NBC-owned studios he formerly occupied. The tour ended in Atlanta on June 14.
The day his live tour began, O'Brien announced that he would host a new show on cable station TBS. The show, Conan, debuted on November 8, 2010, and aired Monday through Thursday at 11:00 pm ET/10:00 pm CT. O'Brien's addition moved Lopez Tonight with George Lopez back one hour. Refusing at first to do to Lopez what had happened to him at NBC, O'Brien agreed to join the network after Lopez called to persuade him to come to TBS.
In February 2015, following the onset of the Cuban Thaw, O'Brien became the first American television personality to film in Cuba for more than half a century. Conan O'Brien then visited Armenia. In April 2016, O'Brien visited South Korea in response to a fan letter urging him to visit, as well as a growing fan base online. His visit included a trip to the Korean Demilitarized Zone, which resulted in O'Brien and Steven Yeun to also visit North Korea on a technicality by stepping across the border line at the DMZ. Conan commented on the significance during the sketch, claiming, "The idea that you and I could be in North Korea, talking and communicating freely, seems like kind of a cool message."
In the fall of 2018, Conan took a hiatus while O'Brien launched another national comedy tour. The show returned January 22, 2019, in a new half-hour format without the live band.
In November 2020, TBS announced that Conan would end in June 2021. The final show aired on June 24, 2021. It was announced that O'Brien will move to a weekly untitled variety show on fellow WarnerMedia property HBO Max, where he is expected to focus more on his podcast and travel shows with a relaxed production schedule. On his final show, O'Brien featured fictional character Homer Simpson, marking also the three episodes that O'Brien wrote for the series. Comedians Will Ferrell and Jack Black also paid their farewell to the show in the series finale.
Conan O'Brien Needs a Friend (2018–present)
In 2018, O'Brien's production company, TeamCoco, partnered with Earwolf to launch his own weekly podcast, Conan O'Brien Needs a Friend. The podcast debuted November 18, 2018, with Will Ferrell as the first guest. The title of the podcast refers to the premise that O'Brien is lonely and is thus inviting people onto the show to see if they could be his actual friend. In each episode, Conan is joined by his guest, as well as his assistant Sona Movsesian and the show's producer Matt Gourley. Guests on the podcast have included Barack and Michelle Obama, Stephen Colbert, and Bob Newhart among others. The podcast has received strong reviews and became the top podcast on iTunes. The podcast also won the iHeartRadio Podcast Award for Best Comedy Podcast and Best Ad Read.
O'Brien was executive producer and co-wrote the pilot of the 2007 NBC adventure/comedy series Andy Barker, P.I., starring O'Brien's sidekick Andy Richter. After six episodes and low ratings, the show was canceled despite being named one of the Top Ten Shows of 2007 by Entertainment Weekly. Later, USA Network handed out a 90-minute, cast-contingent pilot order to the medical-themed Operating Instructions from O'Brien's production banner; O'Brien served as an executive producer through his Conaco label. In January 2010 NBC ordered two pilots from Conaco, the one-hour courtroom drama Outlaw and a half-hour comedy. Outlaw was produced in eight episodes and premiered on September 15, 2010.
O'Brien's first guest appearance after beginning his late-night career was playing himself in the season five Simpsons episode "Bart Gets Famous", interviewing Bart Simpson during his rise to fame as a catchphrase comedian. In 1999, O'Brien made an appearance on Futurama in the second-season episode "Xmas Story". O'Brien played himself as a head in a jar and still alive in the year 3000.
Other voice work performed by O'Brien has included the voice of Robert Todd Lincoln in the audiobook version of Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell, the voice of talk show host Dave Endochrine in the 2013 DC Universe animated original movie Batman: The Dark Knight Returns (Part 2), the voice of the character Kuchikukan in the "Operation: Lunacorn Apocalypse" episode of Nickelodeon's The Penguins of Madagascar, and the voice of Santa Claus in The Backyardigans episode "The Action Elves Save Christmas Eve".
On the TV show 30 Rock, O'Brien is depicted as an ex-boyfriend of lead character Liz Lemon, who works in the same building. In the episode "Tracy Does Conan", Conan appears as himself, awkwardly reunited with Lemon and coerced by network executive Jack Donaghy into having the character Tracy Jordan on Late Night, despite having been assaulted in Jordan's previous appearance. O'Brien also made a cameo appearance on the U.S. version of The Office. In the episode "Valentine's Day", Michael believes that he spots former SNL cast member, Tina Fey, but has actually mistaken another woman for her. In the meantime, Conan has a quick walk-on, and the camera crew informs Michael when he returns from talking to the Tina Fey lookalike. In 2011, he starred as himself in the web series Web Therapy (opposite Lisa Kudrow) for three episodes. O'Brien also made a guest appearance as himself in the 2019 game Death Stranding, where he communicates with the player using voice lines and facial expressions recorded during his visit to Kojima Productions' headquarters.
O'Brien has hosted several awards shows and television specials. O'Brien hosted the 54th Primetime Emmy Awards in 2002 and the 58th Primetime Emmy Awards in 2006, to critical acclaim. O'Brien also hosted the 2014 MTV Movie Awards.
Conan has served as the master of ceremonies for the White House Correspondents' Association dinner in Washington, D.C. twice, in 1995 and 2013.
O'Brien lists among his comedic influences David Letterman, Peter Sellers, Sid Caesar, Warner Bros. Cartoons, Johnny Carson, Ernie Kovacs, Bob Hope, and Woody Allen. In turn, actors and comedians who claim O'Brien as an influence include Mindy Kaling, Pete Holmes, Seth Meyers, Nikki Glaser, John Krasinski, Moses Storm, Sam Richardson, Colin Jost, Kumail Nanjiani, Ron Funches, John Mulaney, and James Corden.
O'Brien met Elizabeth Ann "Liza" Powel in 2000, when she appeared on Late Night with Conan O'Brien in an advertising skit involving Foote, Cone & Belding, where she worked as senior copywriter. The couple dated for nearly 18 months before their 2002 marriage in Powel's hometown of Seattle. O'Brien and Powel have a daughter, Neve (born 2003) and a son, Beckett (born 2005).
O'Brien often affirms his Irish Catholic heritage. On a 2009 episode of Inside the Actors Studio, he stated that ancestors from both sides of his family moved to America from Ireland starting in the 1850s, subsequently marrying only other Irish Catholics, and that his lineage is thus 100% Irish Catholic.
He has been a registered Democrat since casting his first vote for president in 1984 for Walter Mondale. He considers himself a moderate on the political spectrum. O'Brien founded the anti-hunger organization Labels Are For Jars with his friend and former Harvard dormmate Father Paul B. O'Brien. He also helped open the Cor Unum meal center in 2006.
In January 2008, after his show was put on hold for two months owing to the strike by the Writers Guild of America, he reemerged on late-night TV sporting a beard, which guest Tom Brokaw described as making him look like "a draft dodger from the Civil War." After leaving The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien in 2010, O'Brien again grew a beard, which he kept until May 2011, when it was partially shaved on the set of Conan by Will Ferrell (and completely shaved off-screen by a professional barber).
O'Brien purchased a $10.5-million mansion in Brentwood, Los Angeles, California, to prepare for his move there in 2009 from New York City to host The Tonight Show at Universal Studios Hollywood. As part of a long-running gag, he brought his 1992 Ford Taurus SHO with him to California, showcasing it on both the inaugural episodes of The Tonight Show and Conan.
On October 21, 2011, O'Brien was ordained as a minister by the Universal Life Church Monastery, allowing him to perform a same-sex marriage while back in New York, then one of the few states in the US where gay marriage was legal, to tape a week's worth of shows. The wedding, between a member of O'Brien's staff and his partner, was held on the stage of the Beacon Theatre on November 3, 2011, and broadcast on Conan.
Starting in September 2006, O'Brien was stalked by Father David Ajemian of the Archdiocese of Boston, who, despite multiple warnings to stop, sent O'Brien letters signed as "your priest stalker". Ajemian later sent O'Brien death threats and trying to forcefully enter a taping of Late Night before being arrested. On April 8, 2008, Ajemian pleaded guilty to stalking, and was later laicized.
|2001||Pootie Tang||Himself||Uncredited cameo|
|2002||The Rutles 2: Can't Buy Me Lunch||Himself||TV film|
|2003||End of the Century: The Story of the Ramones||Himself||Documentary|
|2006||Queer Duck: The Movie||Himself (voice)|
|2008||The Great Buck Howard||Himself||Cameo|
|2011||Conan O'Brien Can't Stop||Himself||Documentary|
|2013||Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Part 2||David Endocrine (voice)|
|Now You See Me||Himself||Cameo|
|The Secret Life of Walter Mitty||Himself||Cameo|
|2017||The Lego Batman Movie||The Riddler (voice)|
|Movie Sound Effects: How Do They Do That?||The Riddler (voice)||Short film|
|2021||The Mitchells vs. the Machines||Glaxxon 5000 (voice)|
|1983–1987||Not Necessarily the News||none||13 episodes; writer|
|1987–1988||The Wilton North Report||none|
|1988–1991||Saturday Night Live||none||72 episodes; writer|
Also appeared in 21 episodes as various characters
|1991||Lookwell||none||Pilot; creator and writer|
|1991–1994||The Simpsons||none||Writer (4 episodes) and producer (52 episodes)|
Also appeared in Episode: "Bart Gets Famous" as himself
|1993–2009||Late Night with Conan O'Brien||Himself (host)||2,277 episodes; also writer and producer|
|1995||Mr. Show with Bob and David||Himself||Episode: "The Cry of a Hungry Baby"|
|1996||The Single Guy||Cameron Duncan||Episode: "Rival"|
|Arli$$||Himself||Episode: "Colors of the Rainbow"|
|Favorite Deadly Sins||Himself||Television film|
|1997, 2002||Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist||Himself (voice)||2 episodes|
|1998||Veronica's Closet||Himself||Episode: "Veronica's Night Alone"|
|Spin City||Himself||Episode: "Dead Dog Talking"|
|1999||LateLine||Himself||Episode: "Pearce on Conan"|
|Space Ghost Coast to Coast||Himself||Episode: "Fire Ant"|
|Futurama||Himself (voice)||Episode: "Xmas Story"|
|2001||Saturday Night Live||Himself (host)||Episode: "Conan O'Brien/Don Henley"|
|2002||54th Primetime Emmy Awards||Himself (host)||Television special|
|2003||Andy Richter Controls the Universe||Freddy Pickering||Episode: "Crazy in Rio"|
|2005–2008||Robot Chicken||Various voices||4 episodes|
|2006||O'Grady||Chip (voice)||Episode: "Frenched"|
|The Office||Himself||Episode: "Valentine's Day"|
|58th Primetime Emmy Awards||Himself (host)||Television special|
|2006, 2013||30 Rock||Himself||2 episodes|
|2007||Andy Barker, P.I.||none||Creator, writer and executive producer|
|2009–2010||The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien||Himself (host)||145 episodes; also executive producer and writer|
|2009||The Backyardigans||Santa Claus (voice)||Episode: "The Action Elves Save Christmas Eve"|
|2010–2021||Conan||Himself (host)||Also creator, writer and executive producer|
Also appeared in Episode: "Honor Thy Marshal" as himself
|2012||Web Therapy||Himself||2 episodes|
|How I Met Your Mother||Bar Patron||Uncredited|
Episode: "No Pressure"
|2013||Newsreaders||Himself||Episode: "Jr. Newsreaders"|
|Deon Cole's Black Box||none||Executive producer|
Also appeared in Episode: "Deon Tries to Reach Out to White People" as himself
|Clear History||Himself||Television film|
|White House Correspondents' Dinner||Himself (host)||Television special|
|Arrested Development||Himself||Episode: "The B. Team"|
|Nashville||Himself||Episode: "Never No More"|
|It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia||Himself (voice)||Episode: "The Gang Broke Dee"|
|Real Husbands of Hollywood||Himself||Episode: "Rock, Paper, Stealers"|
|Brody Stevens: Enjoy It!||Himself||Episode: "Conan!"|
|2013–2014||Super Fun Night||none||Executive producer|
|The Pete Holmes Show||none|
|2013||Family Guy||Himself (voice)||Episode: "Into Harmony's Way"|
|2014||2014 MTV Movie Awards||Himself (host)||Television special|
|Maron||Himself||Episode: "The Joke"|
|Video Game High School||Newsanchor||Episode: "OMGWTFPS!?"|
Episode: "Valerie Gets What She Wants"
|Sharktopus vs. Pteracuda||Himself||Television film|
|2015||The Jack and Triumph Show||none||Executive producer|
|Ground Floor||Himself||Episode: "The Mansfield Who Came to Dinner"|
|Stranger's Soul (Ուրիշի հոգին)||Mob boss||2 episodes|
|Clipped||Red-Head Customer||Episode: "Dreamers"|
|The Penguins of Madagascar||Kuchikukan (voice)||Episode: "Operation: Lunacorn Apocalypse"|
|2016||One More Happy Ending (한번 더 해피엔딩)||Himself||1 episode|
|2016–2017||People of Earth||none||Executive producer|
|2016||Gute Zeiten, schlechte Zeiten||Johnny J. Smith||1 episode|
|2017||Mi adorable maldición||Joseph Robinson||Episode: "La fiesta de Apolonia"|
|2018–2021||Final Space||Clarence (voice)||Also executive producer|
|2018||Un Posto al Sole||Man on computer||1 episode|
|Kidding||Himself||Episode: "Green Means Go"|
|2019||Silicon Valley||Himself||Episode: "Exit Event"|
|Year||Video game||Voice role|
|2012||Halo 4||Soldier # 1|
|2014||Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham||Himself|
|2019||Death Stranding||The Wandering MC|
|2005||"The Denial Twist"||The White Stripes|
|2016||"Fire"||Park Jin-young (feat. Conan O'Brien, Steven Yeun & Jimin Park)|
|2019||"For Love"||Kuami Eugene (feat. Conan O'Brien)|
Awards and nominations
- Conan, a military working dog which was named after him
- "Conan O'Brien to Debut New Late-Night Show on TBS". Fox News. Associated Press. April 12, 2010. Retrieved April 12, 2010.
- Frazier Moore, Associated Press (April 12, 2010). "Conan O'Brien to Make TBS His New Late-Night Home". ABC News. Retrieved April 12, 2010.
- Hirschberg, Lynn (May 20, 2009). "Heeeere's . . . Conan!!!". The New York Times. Retrieved December 21, 2012.
- Chestang, Raphael (May 18, 2015). "Conan O'Brien 'Uncomfortable' With David Letterman Leaving 'Late Show'". Entertainment Tonight. Retrieved May 25, 2015.
- Lopez, George (April 29, 2010). "The 2010 TIME 100". Time.
- Ha, Anthony (November 17, 2020). "Conan O'Brien will launch a weekly variety show on HBO Max". TechCrunch. Retrieved March 18, 2021.
- Otterson, Joe (November 17, 2020). "Conan O'Brien to End TBS Late-Night Show in 2021, Sets Weekly HBO Max Variety Series". Variety. Retrieved March 18, 2021.
- Adalian, Josef (June 23, 2021). "Conan's Irish Good-bye". Vulture. Retrieved June 25, 2021.
- "Conan O'Brien". TVGuide.com. Archived from the original on January 5, 2016. Retrieved November 3, 2016.
- "Conan O'Brien Biography (1963–)". Film Reference. Retrieved May 9, 2008.
- "Conan Christopher O'Brien". Ancestry. Archived from the original on May 16, 2008. Retrieved May 9, 2008.
- Stated on Inside the Actors Studio, 2009
- "Ruth Reardon O'Brien 1931–" (PDF). Stanford.edu. Retrieved January 23, 2010.[permanent dead link]
- "Ruth Reardon O'Brien". geni_family_tree.
- on YouTube
- Coons, Phyllis (December 3, 1980). "Extra Credit: Starting Out with Style". Boston Globe.
- Beggy, Carol (November 6, 2003). "Monet goes to Vegas; Kerry goes out on the town". Boston Globe. Retrieved May 11, 2008.
- "Harvard College Freshman Dean's Office". Harvard College. Archived from the original on July 31, 2013. Retrieved May 11, 2008.
- Laufenberg, Norbert B. (2005). Entertainment Celebrities. Trafford. p. 482. ISBN 978-1-4120-5335-8.
- "@Google & YouTube present A Conversation with Conan O'Brien", AtGoogleTalks, May 7, 2010.
- Aucoin, Don (August 31, 2003). "Understanding Conan". The Boston Globe Magazine.
- Conan O'Brien explaining his Harvard thesis (interview at JFK Library, YouTube upload on July 11, 2012)
- O'Brien, Conan. The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien, NBC, January 15, 2010.
- Maher, Jimmy (June 20, 2014). "Comprehend". The Digital Antiquarian. Retrieved July 11, 2014.
- Longcope, Kay (October 24, 1983). "A Star Rising". Boston Globe.
- Finke, Nikki (January 14, 2010). "NO JOKE: Jeff Zucker Had Conan Arrested". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved January 24, 2010.
- Rabin, Nathan (August 30, 2006). "Conan O'Brien". The A.V. Club. Retrieved May 11, 2008.
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- Boulware, Hugh (June 24, 1988). "Laugh Lines The Bits and Pieces That Get Comics into the Act". Chicago Tribune.
- Bommer, Lawrence (July 29, 1988). "Live, From Chicago, It's...". Chicago Tribune.
- "Jeff Garlin interview". Late Night with Conan O'Brien. September 7, 2007.
- Kaplan, James (September 21, 1998). "The Late Conan O'Brien". New York. Archived from the original on April 13, 2009. Retrieved August 27, 2013.
- Ortved, John (2009). The Simpsons: An Uncensored, Unauthorized History. Greystone Books. pp. 160–161. ISBN 978-1-55365-503-9.
- Ortved, 2009. p. 163
- Volonnino, Michael R. (June 8, 2000). "O'Brien Returns to Harvard". Harvard Crimson. Archived from the original on September 15, 2006. Retrieved May 11, 2008.
- "Conan O'Brien's Commencement Speech for the Harvard Class of 2000". everything2. August 8, 2000. Retrieved May 11, 2008.
- Ortved, 2009. p. 162
- O'Brien, Conan. (2003). Commentary for "Marge vs. the Monorail", in The Simpsons: The Complete Fourth Season [DVD]. 20th Century Fox.
- The Family Dynamic Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved February 13, 2007
- Ortved, 2009. p. 164
- Pearlman, Cindy (July 8, 1994). "Muscle-Man Bound". People. Retrieved December 3, 2010.
- Interview with Kevin Nealon. Conan. December 2, 2010.
- Ortved, 2009. p. 165
- Ortved, 2009. p. 166-167
- O'Brien, Conan. (2004). Commentary for "Homer Goes to College", in The Simpsons: The Complete Fifth Season [DVD]. 20th Century Fox.
- Jean, Al. (2004). Commentary for "Cape Feare", in The Simpsons: The Complete Fifth Season [DVD]. 20th Century Fox.
- O'Brien, Conan (September 13, 1993). "O'Brien Flops!". The New York Times. Retrieved December 21, 2012.
- Shales, Tom (October 19, 1993). "Go Gently into That Good Night, Already!". The Washington Post. Retrieved April 21, 2020.
- Bianculli, David (September 26, 2005). "Conan on the Couch". New York. Retrieved December 21, 2012.
- Shales, Tom. "Late Night's Late Riser". The Washington Post. Retrieved April 19, 2020.
- Bianculli, David (June 15, 1994). "NBC's Conan O'Brien Awaits His Fate". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved December 21, 2012.
- Snierson, Dan (February 9, 1996). "A Replacement for Letterman". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved April 21, 2020.
- "Episode dated 21 February 2009". Late Night with Conan O'Brien. February 21, 2009. NBC.
- Lasswell, Mark (June 22, 1996). "Who'd Have Thought? Conan Turns Cool". TV Guide. Archived from the original on May 5, 2009. Retrieved August 27, 2013.
- Ritter, Karl (January 14, 2006). "Conan O'Brien's mock endorsement of Finnish president is no joke to her opponents". The Seattle Times. Retrieved May 14, 2021.
- Barish, Mike (January 26, 2010). "5 places Conan should go on vacation". CNN. Retrieved January 26, 2010.
- Conan Meets The President Of Finland – Conan
- "Conan, Stewart, Colbert unite in mock feud". TODAY.com. February 5, 2008. Retrieved January 25, 2018.
- Gomez, Fin (February 6, 2008). "Who Created Huckabee? Conan, Stewart, and Colbert Fight it Out". Fox News. Archived from the original on April 20, 2008. Retrieved May 11, 2008.
- Steinberg, Jacques (February 6, 2008). "The Story Behind a Late-Night Brawl". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved January 25, 2018.
- "Conan O'Brien Takes Ax To 'Late Night' Set". kirotv.com. Archived from the original on September 29, 2011. Retrieved February 25, 2010.
- Huff, Richard (February 19, 2009). "Conan O'Brien ends 16-year run in New York to take over 'Tonight Show'". Daily News. New York. Retrieved February 25, 2010.
- Wright, Megh (March 21, 2019). "Conan O'Brien Is a Damn Tease". Vulture. Retrieved December 6, 2020.
- "Conan O'Brien Reaches $45 Million Exit Deal". www.cnbc.com. AP. January 21, 2010. Retrieved December 6, 2020.
- "Will Ferrell Helps Conan Kick Things Off". Ok!. May 18, 2009. Retrieved February 26, 2011.
- "Twitter Tracker, 2 June 2009". tonightshowwithconanobrien.com. Archived from the original on July 6, 2009. Retrieved January 21, 2010.
- "Tom Hanks Interview Pt. 1, 2 June 2009". tonightshowwithconanobrien.com. Archived from the original on August 13, 2009. Retrieved January 21, 2010.
- "Tom Hanks Interview Pt. 2, 2 June 2009". tonightshowwithconanobrien.com. Archived from the original on August 13, 2009. Retrieved January 21, 2010.
- Elber, Lynn (September 26, 2009). "Conan O'Brien OK after hitting head in show stunt". The Seattle Times. Retrieved June 27, 2011.
- "O'Brien back on 'Tonight,' joking about accident". USA Today. September 28, 2009. Retrieved August 27, 2013.
- Carter, Bill (January 8, 2010). "NBC Wants Leno Back in Old Slot". The New York Times. Retrieved January 8, 2010.
- "Leno returns to late night: NBC". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. January 10, 2010. Archived from the original on January 12, 2010. Retrieved January 10, 2010.
- Graham, Adam (2010). "Classily, Conan exits the Tonight Show". DETNEWS. Retrieved January 22, 2010.
- Daly, Sean (January 11, 2010). "Just Call Him Conan O'Flyin'". New York Post. Retrieved January 11, 2010.
- Conan O'Brien Says He Won't Host "Tonight Show" After Leno, The New York Times, January 12, 2010
- Conan O'Brien: I Won't Do "The Tonight Show" at 12:05AM Archived January 15, 2010, at the Wayback Machine, Zap2It.com, January 12, 2010
- Conan O'Brien Thanks Fans in "Tonight" Farewell, The New York Times, January 23, 2010
- Exclusive: Conan, NBC Officially Splitsville, The Wrap, January 21, 2010
- NBC, Conan O'Brien Reach Deal for "Tonight Show" Exit, Broadcasting & Cable, January 21, 2010
- Conan O'Brien Signs Deal to Leave NBC, MarketWatch, January 21, 2010
- The New York Times article: "NBC's Shift in Schedule May Be Up to O'Brien".
- Business Insider article: "Why Is USA Network, NBC's Sister Station, Wooing Conan?".
- Gallagher, Brian (January 22, 2010). "Conan O'Brien Mulls Post The Tonight Show Options". MovieWeb.com. Retrieved February 26, 2011.
- "Blog > An Open Letter to Conan O'Brien". Revision3. January 18, 2010. Archived from the original on February 26, 2011. Retrieved February 26, 2011.
- HeadlinePlanet.com article "Report: FOX, TBS, FX, HBO Among Networks Interested in Conan O'Brien Archived February 17, 2010, at the Wayback Machine".
- Business Insider article: "Conan O'Brien Staying Close To Fox, Selling His New York Apartment."
- "Conan O'Brien's palatial Brentwood home". Los Angeles Times. February 27, 2008. Retrieved August 27, 2013.
- Behrens, Zach (April 27, 2010). "Conan Says He'll Stay in L.A. for Cable Show, Will Appear on '60 Minutes' Archived May 2, 2010, at the Wayback Machine". LAist.
- Lopez, George (April 29, 2010). "Conan O'Brien – The 2010 Time 100". Time. Archived from the original on April 30, 2010. Retrieved April 30, 2010.
- Carter, Bill (April 29, 2010). "Conan O'Brien Opens Up About NBC Departure". The New York Times. Retrieved April 30, 2010.
- Hibberd, James (May 2, 2010). "Conan O'Brien '60 Minutes' transcript". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on May 4, 2010. Retrieved May 2, 2010.
- Twitter page for Conan O'Brien: "Hey Internet."
- "O'Brien's's Tour Site". Teamcoco.com. Archived from the original on February 18, 2016. Retrieved February 26, 2011.
- "Conan O'Brien Announces Live Tour Across U.S., Canada". ABC News. Retrieved February 26, 2011.
- "Coco Coast to Coast: Conan O'Brien announces his national tour (UPDATED)". Variety. Archived from the original on July 29, 2012.
- "Jack White will perform in the first show" (spanish) CYAN mag #14 Archived November 13, 2010, at the Wayback Machine November'10
- Carter, Bill (April 12, 2010). "How the Conan O'Brien-TBS Deal Happened". The New York Times. Retrieved April 12, 2010.
- France, Lisa Respers (February 16, 2015). "Conan O'Brien Takes Show to Cuba". CNN. Retrieved February 17, 2015.
- Snierson, Dan (October 12, 2015). "Conan O'Brien is taking his late-night talk show to Armenia". Entertainment Weekly.
- Epstein, Adam. "Watch American diplomat Conan O'Brien host a talk show on the North Korean side of the DMZ". Quartz. Retrieved September 27, 2017.
- Carter, Bill (May 14, 2014). "TBS Signs Conan O'Brien to 4 More Years". The New York Times.
- de Moraes, Lisa (May 17, 2017). "Conan O'Brien Signs 4-Year TBS Deal; Says Show Will Become Leaner, More Agile, Less Predictable". Deadline Hollywood.
- Itzkoff, Dave (January 21, 2019). "Can Conan O'Brien Reinvent 'Conan'?". The New York Times. Retrieved January 21, 2019.
- "Conan O'Brien leaving TBS late-night show for new HBO Max variety series". NBC News. Retrieved December 6, 2020.
- Schimkowitz, Matt (May 3, 2021). "Conan O'Brien's TBS show to end this June". The A.V. Club. Retrieved May 4, 2021.
- Squires, Bethy (June 25, 2021). "Homer Simpson Did Conan O'Brien's TBS Exit Interview". Vulture. Retrieved June 25, 2021.
- "Conan O'Brien Says Goodbye to Late Night, Will Ferrell and Jack Black Join Series Finale". Hollywood Reporter. June 26, 2021. Retrieved June 26, 2021 – via Hollywood Reporter video player.
- "Creators & Guests of Conan O'Brien Needs A Friend". Podchaser. Retrieved April 16, 2020.
- Doyle, Patrick (January 21, 2019). "The Last Word: Conan O'Brien on Catholicism, 'The Simpsons' and Life As Late Night's Elder Statesman". Rolling Stone. Retrieved January 21, 2019.
- Saincome, Matt (December 28, 2018). "Best New Comedy Podcasts of 2018". Rolling Stone. Retrieved January 21, 2019.
- "2020 iHeartRadio Podcast Awards: Full List of Winners". iHeartRadio.
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- "Conan O'Brien scrubs up for medical drama". Yahoo! News. Archived from the original on September 30, 2008. Retrieved October 13, 2008.
- "Television – News – NBC orders pilot from Conan O'Brien". Digital Spy. January 27, 2010. Retrieved February 26, 2011.
- "NBC Unveils 2010–2011 Primetime Schedule Accented by Five New Comedies, Seven New Dramas, and New Alternative Program". The Futon Critic. May 16, 2010. Retrieved May 28, 2010.
- WakenPayne (December 22, 2013). ""Futurama" Xmas Story (TV Episode 1999)". IMDb. Retrieved March 17, 2015.
- "DVD: Robot Chicken: Star Wars with Hulk Hogan (voice) and Conan O'Brien (voice)". Tower.com. July 22, 2008. Archived from the original on June 4, 2011. Retrieved February 26, 2011.
- "LoDingo® – Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell – Audio Book Download". Lodingo.com. Archived from the original on October 7, 2011. Retrieved February 26, 2011.
- "Penguins of Madagascar: "Lunacorn Apocalypse" S3". Nickelodeon. Retrieved June 27, 2012.
- EvanHamilton (July 11, 2011). ""30 Rock" Tracy Does Conan (TV Episode 2006)". IMDb. Retrieved March 17, 2015.
- "The Office: Valentine's Day Episode Summary on". Tv.com. Retrieved February 26, 2011.
- "Death Stranding - Conan O'Brien Easter Egg Location (Where to find Conan)". Archived from the original on October 28, 2021. Retrieved December 28, 2019 – via YouTube.
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- "It's Official: Conan O'Brien To Host The 2014 MTV Movie Awards" MTV, March 4, 2014
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- Inside Comedy, Season 4 Episode 6
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