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Tania is currently the Founder & Editor-in-Chief of The Hudsucker, and Senior Editor at the Nashville, Tennessee based PopCulture.com. With past writing and editing credits with Womanista, Quietly, the International Women's Media Foundation (IWMF) and NBC Newsvine, she is currently a member of Indianapolis based, Society of Professional Journalists — one of the oldest organizations in the U.S. that promotes and represents journalists. She is an avid Indianapolis Colts, Elvis Presley and baseball fan as well as a lover of pancakes and fine cheeses, film, and music. Tania is a Hoosier at heart with a passionate wanderlust for always traveling and giving back to those in her community. She is currently studying at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. Follow Tania on Twitter: @westlifebunny.

Flight of the Pompadour: Celebrating 20 Years of Conan O’Brien!

Image Credit: TBS/Time Warner Inc

“My favorite comedy is where nothing is achieved and there is no point.”

– Conan O’Brien 

Interesting words coming from late night talk show host, Conan O’Brien because there is a point—at least to the countless viewers around the world. Perhaps the gag is pointless, but the meaning behind it has never been.

Conan O’Brien has had quite the colorful career over the past two decades on television, starting with receiving Late Night from David Letterman back in 1993. Through it all, he made an even stronger lasting impression on audiences with his wry self-deprecating humor. The outpouring of love and affection for this tall and lanky, orange-haired, milk white glistening skinned comedian is and always has been unbelievable. When O’Brien’s career was threatened back in 2010 while hosting The Tonight Show (remember the Leno and NBC fiasco?), fans and O’Brien himself were not sure where he would head next after he decided to walk away from the coveted title once held by the great, Johnny Carson. It was a move O’Brien admitted in interviews was the hardest thing he ever had to do.

On the last episode of The Tonight Show hosted by O’Brien, the Harvard-graduate shared with his audience one of the most remarkable statements ever to come out of late night; a poignant speech showcasing faith and grace. Staring directly at the camera, he said, “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.”

Sit back, relax, and enjoy all the Coco goodness over at TeamCoco.com celebrating 20 years of Conan O’Brien, available till November 15, 2013. Image Credit: TBS/Time Warner LLC.

Since his departure from The Tonight Show, that statement has never been proved more true for the quinquagenerian. Besides getting his own talk show called CONAN on the TBS network in 2010, he had the chance to go on tour and meet with his fans in 30 cities, chronicling his journey in a behind-the-scenes documentary; was named one of the most influential people in the world as voted by readers for Time Magazine’s Time 100 back in 2010; has 9.2 million followers on Twitter; and continues to write and produce television shows.

It has been a fun ride for him, and even more fun one for the fans that get to continue watching him every week on his late night talk show. Throughout the years, O’Brien’s comedy has created great meaning for a generation that is broad-minded and connected, as he has ultimately reshaped humor and has shown it’s okay to make fun of yourself.

Now O’Brien is by far one of the smartest men on television to date. It’s true. It’s not even an understatement; he graduated Magna Cum Laude in 1985 from Harvard with a BA in American History and Literature and edited The Harvard Lampoon for two years. It’s innate within him to convey his humor in various ways for all audiences as in the abstract and ridiculous (sketches like, In The Year 2000, Noches de Pasion con Señor O’Brien, Celebrity Surveys, etc) and the lowbrow and idiotic (The Interrupter, The Horny Manatee, etc). He’s also been one to push the late night talk show envelope over a bit (Triumph the Insult Comic Dog; one of the most popular recurring characters created by head writer, Robert Smigel,) but it’s always in good spirits and he means well. I mean, who doesn’t love the Masturbating Bear? A bear that fondles himself in a diaper. How is that not funny?!

The beauty of a Conan joke though is that if he improvises, he’s going to run with that joke and that makes it all the more fun. When he was on Late Night, he cracked a joke about a non-existent horny manatee website and then actually went out and purchased the domain. Fans all around the world found that highly entertaining and the best part of it was that they could interact with O’Brien, even if they were millions of miles away. That’s what makes being a fan of Conan is all about—you feel like you’re a part of the experience. And that’s who O’Brien is: he’s the people’s entertainer–he’s working for us, while laughing at himself.

Conan O’Brien is celebrating 20 years as a late night talk show host this year and with such a milestone, O’Brien and his ever-amazing team have acquired some of the best clips from his career on television in the last twenty years. As of Monday October 28, his talk show CONAN, takes a look back at 3,300 hours in O’Brien’s late-night hosting career, showcasing memorable clips from the past two decades. Each night, the show has been airing montages of the late night madness, with extended versions of all clips made available on Team Coco’s official website for a limited time!

As a Team Coco fan since I was 11 years old—many pompadours ago—I have loved so many sketches, characters and interviews, and reliving them is truly nostalgic. The great part about these segments is that a lot of them still make me laugh out loud and like a song, fit perfectly for every mood I’m feeling. Some days I will love one more than the other, but ultimately it boils down to my all-time favorites; ones that are etched in memory and randomly pop into my head while out in public places. It makes for awkward scenes when you’re left laughing hysterically at the thought of Conan mid-moment.

To breakdown some of my favorite Conan O’Brien segments, sketches and characters are impossible but…“What else could you do? Those bitches had to die.” (See what I mean?!)  in no particular order, here are ten of my personal favorites:

Conan Joins An Old-Timey Baseball League:

One of my all-time favorites! Originally broadcast on June 25, 2004, this short is popularly known as “1864 Baseball” and has since been a favorite among fans on the internet. As always, Conan is hilarious as he interviews and interacts with a group of individuals who dress up and play baseball as if they are from the 1860s and always stay in character. Between the accent he puts on, to the way he plays baseball, to clever lines like, “What ho! What is that demonry?” as a plane flies by; this makes for one of the cleverest shorts Conan’s ever done!

Conan Visits…

The great thing about Conan is that he really loves his fans and really enjoys taking the show on the road! He has been to more than a dozen cities and has visited US cities like Houston, Chicago, Atlanta, etc; paid a visit to his neighbors up north in Toronto, and gone overseas to countries like Finland and Ireland. A few of my favorite voyages he’s made have been to Dublin, Ireland where he meets with students, tries to track his ancestors; and Memphis, Tennessee where he records an album at Sun Studios, known famously as the studio where Elvis  Presley recorded his musical gems.

Brian Stack as The Interrupter

I adore Brian Stack and he’s not just a great writer, but a brilliant performer. He’s played a lot of recurring characters that I’ve enjoyed throughout the years, donning a beard for the likes of Gandalf, God, Socrates, and Zeus; playing an affable version of Frankenstein who often wastes a minute of our time with something he finds amazing; the Fashion Assassin known as James Sinclair St. Wallins; traveling back to the past with Hannigan, the hat-wearing traveling salesman who sells useless items, or Artie Kendall, the ghost of an old-timey lounge singer whose music is sexist and bigoted; or my absolute favorite, The Interrupter. The Interrupter is a melodramatic villain with long hair (who reminds me of Snidley Whiplash without the hat), a long handlebar mustache,and wears a black cape with a purple ruffled shirt. He constantly interrupts Conan and finishes his sentences for him. A true delight!

Conan and Andy Dub Japanese Anime:

Growing up, my sister and I would  turn the volume down on soap operas or foreign programming and make voices for the characters. It was always really funny, but add the comedic geniuses that are Andy Richter and Conan O’Brien and you get pure comedy gold. These two are quite a pair and this is one of the greatest dubs ever filmed! The hilarious duo visit one of the most popular Manga studios for dubbing anime and are up to their usual hi-jinks with their improv. As they explore the plot of the anime, after an explanation from the director, they are still unsure of what it’s all about and begin dubbing for Ghost in the Shell.

Ken Burns: Please Send Cookies:

‘Please Send Cookies’ is a great parody and look at the design and styling of a Ken Burns’ documentary. It’s sweet and funny as we explore Conan’s childhood through letters he wrote himself, photographs and mementos. Trivia regarding the short film has stated that even though the dialogue was written off a letter Conan wrote when he was 14 years old, reading it back, it really sounds like a seven year-old which makes the short even more funny and just downright adorable! It’s one of my favorites and first premiered September 30, 1994.

Conan Goes Shopping on Rodeo Road

Upon moving from New York City to Los Angeles, Conan wanted to replicate the Pretty Woman dream and go on a shopping spree over at Rodeo Drive. However, with NBC’s “budget”, Conan decides to go on the next best shopping spree over on Rodeo Road. Never heard of it? Well, you will and it’s a great sketch from The Tonight Show that originally premiered on June 2, 2009. Conan definitely turns heads with his fashionable looks with trends that never really quite caught on. Pity, really.

Triumph the Insult Dog at Star Wars Premiere

You have to give Triumph the Insult Comic Dog credit for having balls–making fandoms angry is never a good thing but you have to admit, this was one of the funniest and most memorable moments from the show. Triumph interviewed Star Wars fans waiting in line for the theatrical premiere of Attack of the Clones, personally attacking many of them, pitting them against one another in a battle to see who was a bigger “dork”; and responding to a pregnant woman that “that’s the last time he (her baby) would see female genitalia”. Eventually he grows irritated by the Star Wars cosplay and decides to summon “Angry Spock,” a character popular on Late Night.

Conan and Jordan Schlansky Share a Fine Italian Dinner

This has got to be one of the most awkward yet hilarious dinners ever. If you don’t know who Jordan Schlansky is, now is your chance to get to know him in one of the funniest segments. Originally airing in 2008 for Late Night, Schlansky is great with his deadpan humor and quite possibly one of the most refined and polished associate producers around, but he tends to irritate Conan. This is one of those nights and Conan never fails at giving him a hard time. Join these two for dinner right now. You won’t regret it!

Conan Goes On A Wine Tour in Napa Valley

Drinking is fun and can be hilarious, especially when you add Conan O’Brien to the mix! In this segment that originally aired in 2007 for Late Night, Conan visits Spring Mountain Vineyards in Napa Valley and goes on a wine tasting tour. It’s hilarious from start to finish, and Conan does a great job at sampling some of the finest wines in the region while becoming a walking cliche to the art of wine tasting, bringing his own etiquette and refinement to the social aspect of this activity. Look out for Conan’s over-sized wine glass, ascot, pipe, and rich red robe in this one. You will not be disappointed!

Conan Joins The Birders of Central Park

What’s the deal with bird-watching, right? In Central Park there is a birding hot spot where bird enthusiasts get together and watch birds. Conan decides to impose on a group of diehard birdwatchers that have been around for 20 years and becomes a member of the group, convinced he knows birds and how to interact with them. What’s funny about the segment is how he adds his wit to what seems obvious like when asked what does he hear, he answers, “buses.” Conan as always makes hilarious noises and adds any birds he’s witnessed to his “life list,” climbs trees and fools many passerbys into believing he is a bird. It’s a funny sketch that first aired on Late Night on May 2, 2005.

* * * * * *

Some of my other favorites not showcased on Team Coco’s 20th anniversary celebration but deserve to be seen are when Conan visits FAO Schwartz in NYCConan works at UPS for a dayConan interviews Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Conan as a security guard in the NBC studios, just to name a few. There are so many and revisiting them is always the best part.

From now through November 15th 2013, CONAN will be celebrating 20 years of late night madness, looking back at your favorite guests, characters, comedy sketches, and countless moments of general stupidity! Head on over to Team Coco now before it’s too late and spend hours basking in nostalgia!

CONAN airs Monday through Thursday at 11 p.m. (ET/PT), is produced for TBS by Conaco LLC, with Jeff Ross serving as executive producer. The show originates from Stage 15 at Warner Bros. Studios. Connect with CONAN at their official website where you can find other videos and goodies, get tickets to the show; and follow them on their social networks like, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. And don’t forget to follow Conan O’Brien, the man himself on Twitter too!

There are so many segments to watch and many of which I definitely know I missed out on mentioning, but let me know in the comments below what some of your favorites sketches are and why!

Connect with Tania Hussain on Twitter and Google+!

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  1. Flight of the Pompadour: Celebrating 20 Years of Conan O’Brien | westlifebunny - November 8, 2013

    […] Continue reading… […]

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