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Conan O‘Brien – The Quintessential Late Night Trailblazer

Conan O‘Brien is an American television host, comedian, writer and producer known for 28 years of groundbreaking late-night shows.

Full Name Conan Christopher O‘Brien
Age 60
Birthday April 18, 1963
Birthplace Brookline, Massachusetts, United States
Alma Mater Harvard University (1985)
Relationship Married to Liza Powel O‘Brien (2002-present)
Children 2
Height 6‘ 4" (1.94 m)
Net Worth $150 million
Social Media Facebook Twitter Instagram YouTube

As a longtime Conan fan, I‘ve been devotedly watching his witty late-night shows for over 25 years. In that time, I‘ve come to deeply appreciate Conan‘s talents as an interviewer, comedian and innovator. He‘s carved out a unique place in television history through his intelligence, absurdity and authenticity.

Early Life and Influences

Conan Christopher O‘Brien was born on April 18, 1963 in Brookline, Massachusetts. Even as a lanky, awkward teenager, the self-described "tall, pale kid" was drawn to comedy and entertaining people.

At Brookline High School, Conan served as managing editor of the school paper and wrote humorous columns anticipating his future career. According to friends, Conan would act out sketches and monologues to make people laugh.

Conan has cited various influences that shaped his comedic voice, including Johnny Carson, David Letterman, The Marx Brothers, and writer Mark Twain. But his own idiosyncratic sensibilities led him to develop an absurdist style combined with wit and slapstick physicality.

Big Break as SNL Writer

After graduating magna cum laude from Harvard in 1985, Conan moved to LA where he wrote for comedy shows including HBO‘s Not Necessarily the News.

But his big break came in 1988 when, at just 25 years old, Conan was hired by Saturday Night Live (SNL). He started out writing sketches and soon became supervising producer of the iconic show.

During his SNL tenure, Conan created memorable characters like The Girl Watchers and wrote quirky segments like Mr. Short-Term Memory. Working with funny professionals like Robert Smigel shaped Conan‘s approach to comedy writing.

Revolutionizing Late Night TV

When David Letterman moved to CBS in 1993, Conan took over NBC‘s Late Night talk show at just 30 years old. This made him the youngest host in late night television history.

As both host and head writer, Conan brought an off-beat, experimental style to Late Night for which the show became known. Recurring bits like "In the Year 2000…" and "Triumph the Insult Comic Dog" pushed boundaries and influenced many future talk shows.

I still vividly remember watching Late Night‘s premiere on September 13, 1993. Seeing this lanky unknown host deliver such a fresh style of comedy felt like the start of a new era.

Conan‘s goofy physicality, boyish charm, and self-deprecating humor made the show feel more intimate than the typical late night fare. His quick wit and rapport with guests helped attract A-list celebrities and followers.

Short Stint as Tonight Show Host

In 2009, Conan reached the pinnacle of late night TV when he took over hosting NBC‘s The Tonight Show. Though his stint only lasted 7 months, it fulfilled his lifelong dream of hosting the iconic franchise.

Walking onto that Tonight Show stage during the premiere must have been an incredible moment for Conan after 15 years hosting Late Night. But soon his ratings declined, leading NBC to controversially reinstate Jay Leno as host.

I‘ll never forget watching Conan‘s last Tonight Show episode on January 22, 2010, which featured guests Tom Hanks and Neil Young. Saying goodbye while at the peak of this career was emotional, but I admired how Conan handled the situation with class.

Triumphant Return with TBS Show

After leaving NBC, Conan launched his own talk show simply titled Conan on TBS cable network in November 2010. I eagerly tuned in to the premiere, excited for Conan‘s return after 9 long months off the air.

Seeing him burst out with energy doing his signature string dance and interacting with fans during the opening confirmed that this comeback felt right. Conan brought many Late Night segments to Conan like "Fan Corrections" along with new bits like "Crowd-Sourced Character."

Over a decade later, I still watch Conan every night; it‘s part of my late night ritual. Conan has continued evolving, recently trying out unorthodox segments like "Storytime with Conan" and "Conan Without Borders."

Appreciating Conan‘s Influence

Having followed Conan‘s late night career from the start, I‘ve gained deep appreciation for his influence on TV comedy. His oddball style and personable demeanor set him apart and shaped countless comedians and showrunners that followed.

Watching Conan over the years, I‘m amazed by his versatility in comedy, from slapstick physical stunts to intellectual discussions to witty interviews. He can somehow be silly and smart at the same time.

Another thing I admire is how Conan keeps trying new things and taking creative risks, rather than resting on his laurels. He finds ways to keep his show fresh even after nearly 30 years on the air.

Seeing fellow hosts like Seth Meyers, Jimmy Fallon and Stephen Colbert bring their own flavor to late night while acknowledging Conan‘s influence is gratifying. Though networks and personalities have changed, Conan remains the quintessential late night pioneer.

Why Conan Is So Beloved

Looking back on Conan‘s long career, it‘s clear why he maintains such devoted fans like myself:

  • His quick wit and one-liners never fail to make me laugh out loud. He‘s a master at delivering absurd jokes with perfect comedic timing.
  • Conan is able to have hilarious, often ridiculous conversations with any guest, from big celebrities to eccentric civilians. His curiosity and improv skills make him an excellent interviewer.
  • Beneath the comedy, Conan seems very humble and down-to-earth. He doesn‘t put on airs – what you see is what you get. His authenticity is refreshing.
  • While very funny, Conan is clearly quite smart and well-read too. He sprinkles historical and literary references into his monologues and interviews.
  • Conan is a nonconformist who follows his own instincts rather than trends. He‘s always been willing to take creative risks, which pays off comedically.

I suspect Conan himself would balk at being called a legend. But for me and so many others, his tremendous impact on late night comedy over 28 years makes him worthy of that title.

Looking Ahead

At 60 years old, Conan O‘Brien shows no signs of slowing down creatively. He continues headlining sold-out comedy tour dates across the country between filming Conan episodes.

He also launched his own podcast, Conan O‘Brien Needs a Friend, in 2018 which offers a more long-form, personal side of Conan. And TBS just renewed Conan through 2022, ensuring at least two more years of his late night antics.

I can‘t wait to keep watching Conan weeknights on TBS for more hilarity and witty conversations. He makes the ideals of intelligence and silliness complement each other – a rare talent.

For me, Conan will always be the comedian who shaped my sense of humor and view of late night TV. As a lifelong fan, I‘m grateful that his unique comedic voice continues entertaining the world.