Conan O’Brien traveled to Japan to get the family of his dreams

Conan O'Brien (Photo by Rob Kim/Getty Images)
Conan O'Brien (Photo by Rob Kim/Getty Images) /

It may have been a rental, but Conan O’Brien’s Japanese family provided him with some priceless support.

The end of 2018 can’t get here fast enough. No, not because the year was some doom and gloom parade marked by anxiety-inducing geopolitics that will somehow magically resolve themselves in 2019. Instead it will mean that Conan O’Brien will return to his role as the most unique voice in late night television.

By now, you’re probably well aware of the hiatus that Conan has been on that will last until January. The revamped version of the show will trim the fat of the now dated and formulaic approach to late night talk shows.

O’Brien hasn’t been completely out of the spotlight since taking a break from TBS. His comedy tour is coming to an end but his podcast has got off to a strong start. Guests Will Ferrell and Kristen Bell have each brought out sides of Conan not often seen.

Bell’s time on Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend was especially insightful . The Frozen and The Good Place actress helped Conan get a little more introspective, turning the podcast into a mini therapy session. Conan may have worked out a few more issues when he went to Japan and rented a family. Yes, that is a thing.

Conan O’Brien’s signature brand of self-deprecating humor has always involved some family elements. His parents were distant. His wife and children are sick of him. It’s the motivation behind O’Brien playing the fool every night in front of an audience, if you were to believe the bit.

There is no better way for O’Brien to get back into the spotlight of television ahead of the Conan relaunch than with a travel special. They have quickly become some of his best work and set him apart from his other late night hosts.

When in a foreign land, O’Brien usually accomplishes two things: bridging cultural divides by showcasing the location and locals in a positive light and leaning into the awkwardness that comes with being a fish out of water.

Future clips from Conan in Japan may fit the first category but this clip of the rental family sits firmly in that second category. At face value, having to rent a family to combat loneliness can be a depressing thought. But Conan dives in head first and make himself the punchline as he tries to mend his relationship with his father and get the only laughs that matter from his wife and child.

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Remotes are always some of Conan’s best work and it’s clear how much he enjoys doing them. The travel specials take this to another level. He could forget all about the late night show and focus exclusively on a travel show and it would be a hit. But O’Brien has always been a dedicated comedy nerd. 2019 will be a big year for Conan and it’s clear he’s ready to take it on full steam ahead.