☰ Menu
The HeldenFiles Online

Conan Talks to Playboy

By admin Published: November 4, 2010

The interview is in the mag's December issue, available Nov. 12; Conan's TBS show stars Monday (Nov. 8). Quotes provided by Playboy include the following (and I think with that first quote, they meant "impassioned").

On his impassionate parting Tonight Show speech, and whether he is bitter after the whole experience: “I wanted to end on an optimistic note. I thought it could end up being the most important moment of my television career. It still could be…I have had too many good things happen in my career to end on any kind of bitter note. I’m just saying this to you; we’re alone in this office, and I don’t have to say this: I am an incredibly fortunate person…And as crazy as this sounds, my career with NBC was overwhelmingly positive until this…The entertainment business has an amazing way of turning really lucky people into bitter, angry, rage-filled, jealous, resentful wretches who can’t believe they got screwed. Some things have worked out great for me, some things haven’t. You keep going…Doing those last Tonight Shows was a high. A lot of people tuned in, and I was really proud of what I was able to make in that situation. So this was good, this was bad, this was ugly, this was beautiful, this was f*cked-up, this was sublime. It was cherry, it was vanilla, it was frogurt, it was mocha chocolate chip.”

On how close his new studio is to Jay Leno’s, and whether or not they bump into each other: “We’re in Burbank, and NBC is not far away…I think if I worked out and had help with hydraulics we could hit it with a tennis ball. [Leno is] a guy you hear coming a long way off. There aren’t many three-cylinder engines in California that run on peat moss. And we hang out in different circles, so I don’t think we’ll be bumping into each other.”

On inviting Jay Leno on his new show as a guest: “He can come as the musical guest, because that I want to see. No one knows he has an operatic range [sings as Jay Leno]. No, there are certain things I will not do, regardless of the price.”

On his new show Conan on TBS: “I don’t want to get lost thinking how this show will be different from any other show I’ve done. Will I overthink it? Yes. Do I think I should? No. How’s that? At the end of the day, it’s going to be me doing whatever is in my power to entertain people for an hour. I’ll break any rule. I’ll use dangerous chemicals if I have to. I will meddle with the laws of God.”

On his longtime sidekick Andy Richter’s return to the show: “Andy will be part of it, for brute strength alone. Andy is the strongest guy on television. He’s a man-child, an incredibly powerful human being. He could take Charlie Sheen in hand-to-hand combat. It wouldn’t even be close. If Charlie Sheen were sleeping and unwarned, Andy would win. And sedated. Those are the rules. Andy does very well against an opponent who’s sleeping, heavily sedated and doesn’t know he’s being attacked.”

On having actors as guests on the new show, and making them pay the audience for plugging their projects: “No! No actors, no actresses…I want to talk to people who are good at a craft, people who work with their hands…We’re going to talk to a lot of upholsterers. Will I bar Tom Hanks from the set? No, I will not. He can come, but he’s not allowed to talk about his project. He’s gonna keep his f*ckin’ mouth shut about his project. And we may have financial penalties…If Jim Carrey or Tom Hanks accidentally mentions his project, I think the viewer should be compensated in some way. That would be a way to turn this economy around. Anytime someone starts to drift into ‘Well, the great thing about this movie is that I was reunited with my favorite director’—bzzzzt—everyone watching gets $2,500. I’m pretty much going to pay people to watch the show.”

On why he wants another show so badly, after once saying “the pace will kill you”: “The pace does kill you. You keep going back for that; there’s no other explanation. There are probably 35 variables that make up a show…How’s the audience, who are the guests, what mood am I in? Add all those things up, and you can never have back-to-back-to-back great shows. If you have a show that’s less than great, you’re desperate to have a great one. But when you have one you feel is great, you want that high again. And it’s too late for me to become a neurosurgeon or a cobbler…So why keep doing it? I think there’s this compulsion, the way a serial killer has to kill and kill again. Are these analogies helping me or hurting me? I’m just compelled to make people laugh—and then quickly move to another state where my DNA can’t be traced.”

On whether or not he thinks he has OCD: “I do not think I have OCD, and I’ve checked with my doctor 10,000 times.”

On whether he feels like a comedy veteran after 17 years in the business: “I’ve actually been around long enough that when I look at a show from 1993 it looks ancient to me. Andy looks like a 13-year-old boy and I look like a 15-year-old girl. There’s a whole generation now that has watched primarily reality television, and more and more they accept only comedy that looks like a real occurrence, whether it’s The Office or Borat. They’re suspicious of traditional comedy. Everything on YouTube is real—epic fail, guy falls down, Snooki gets punched. And so now there’s this hypersensitivity to anything that’s processed or fake.”

On his need to please and the pressure he puts on himself: “My sister Jane said to me once, ‘You have this need to go to the bottom of the pool sometimes; you touch bottom and then you shoot back up again.’ I get filled with despair. What’s interesting is when things get tough, I’m very calm. There’s a part of me that maybe just likes that and is comfortable with trouble and chaos. When everything’s fine, I’m going from office to office, asking, ‘What did you think of the show?’ ‘Yeah, the show’s really good; I think it’s gotten good.’ ‘What do you mean it’s gotten good?’ This reminds me of something my dad once told me. He said, ‘You know, it’s interesting; you’re making money off something that should be treated.’” [laughs]

On his Irish heritage: “Nobody cares if you make a disparaging comment about the Irish. It is the one ethnic group no one gives a sh*t about. ‘Oh, those wife-beating drunks.’ Irish people go, ‘Yes! Ha-ha! We got mentioned.’ They don’t care.”

On whether or not he drinks or has used drugs in the past: “I’ve tried pot, but it doesn’t do much for me. And I’m not one of those people who gets high on life; life really does not get me high. The concept of me on cocaine is absurd. Here’s a true story: I went to a doctor for a physical when I’d been on the air a couple of years, and he asked about drug use. I said, ‘No.’ He said, ‘You don’t do cocaine?’ I said, ‘No.’ And he said, ‘I’ve seen your show.’ [laughs] He assumed I was coked up…I like to have a drink now. I like to have two drinks now. Two and a half to three drinks now. Five is just the right amount. Eight is perfect. Nine is too much, but then 10 is better and I become more focused, which is weird.”

The HeldenFiles Online Archives




Heldenfels' mailbag

Prev Next