Conan: Everything to know about Conan’s new late night format

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 14: Conan O'Brien (L) and Andy Richter attend the TBS / TNT Upfront 2014 at The Theater at Madison Square Garden on May 14, 2014 in New York City. 24674_002_0446.JPG (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Turner)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 14: Conan O'Brien (L) and Andy Richter attend the TBS / TNT Upfront 2014 at The Theater at Madison Square Garden on May 14, 2014 in New York City. 24674_002_0446.JPG (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Turner) /

Conan O’Brien is changing things up on his late night show so here’s what you need to know before you tune in.

If it isn’t broken then don’t fix it. You can’t teach an old dog new tricks. There are plenty of sayings you could apply to suggest that what Conan O’Brien is doing is a bad idea. Tonight will debut a revamped Conan that will be unlike anything he’s done in late night so naturally there are questions. But then again, giving O’Brien a late night show 25 years ago sounded like a bad idea yet he’s still here.

Conan O’Brien has one of the most impressive comedy resumes of anyone from his era. Individual accomplishments would be considered lifetime achievements for others. He has served as president of The Harvard Lampoon. He has written for Saturday Night Live and The Simpsons. He followed David Letterman as host of Late Night and was the fifth host of The Tonight Show. His TBS show Conan has been running since 2010.

Some people thought that perhaps O’Brien’s run of success was coming to an end when he announced in 2018 the changes coming to Conan. Instead, that date has marked a sort of rejuvenation of O’Brien that saw him give fans more content than any of his peers.

During his hiatus from Conan, O’Brien embarked on a national sold-out comedy tour and launched a weekly podcast. Stars like Adam Sandler, Kristen Bell, and Will Ferrell have helped make the podcast a huge hit and added another impressive feat to Conan’s list of accomplishments.

But the late night show will always be his primary concern and his ultimate legacy. So with Conan returning from its break tonight, here is everything you need to know.

Same time, same channel

Conan isn’t going anywhere new. The show will be back in it’s normal time slot on TBS. Look for Conan to air Mondays through Thursdays at 11:00 PM ET. The first episode will be tonight, Jan. 22.

The show will be preceded by Full Frontal with Samantha Bee on Wednesday night, making for the most unique late night duo on television. Shows like The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Kimmel Live!, and The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon air at 11:35 PM. This gives Conan a head start on the late night audience.

Less is more

Most attention regarding the new format focused on the fact that Conan is moving from an hour long to a half-hour long. Plenty peopled jumped to the conclusion that this marked the end of O’Brien in late night and was TBS’s way of slowly moving the host toward the exit.

That simply isn’t the case. TBS has a strong relationship with O’Brien and his contract extends into 2022.

And the shorter format of the show is designed to streamline O’Brien’s comedy. It trims the fat of late night that can become much more about promoting projects and advertising than actual comedy. On his podcast Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend, O’Brien explained it like this:

"The whole theory is, give myself less time and I might get better."

While this statement includes O’Brien’s trademark self-deprecating humor, it does show there is a level of uneasiness that comes with changing things up after 25 years. But that uncertainty is also part of the appeal and will only help retain Conan’s enthusiasm for doing the show.

New year, new look

Things will look a little different when you tune into TBS tonight to watch Conan. Since taking time off, the show has undergone some cosmetic changes.

According to The New York Times, the show will have a more intimate, theater-like feel. O’Brien will be only steps away from the audience. Interviews alongside Andy Richter will be conducted from a small table rather than a couch. And say goodbye to “Bessie Lou,” the name O’Brien has used for his desk since the Late Night days.

Conan O’Brien himself will look different. He mentioned during his podcast with Adam Sandler that he will no longer be wearing a suit every single night. It’s a small change, sure, but it is indicative of the change in tone and atmosphere O’Brien hopes to achieve.

Goodbye, Basic Cable Band

Part of remaking the show involved changes to the budget. Producer Jeff Ross has indicated that Conan will be made for significantly less money than before. And that meant some hard decisions had to be made.

The hardest decision was likely the one to say goodbye to Jimmy Vivino and the Basic Cable Band. The band has been with O’Brien in some form or another since his start in late night.

O’Brien made sure to take time to thank Vivino and the rest of the band during his last week of hour-long shows. Music has always been a big part of what O’Brien does in comedy so we know it was especially difficult to no longer work with the Basic Cable Band.

Speaking of music, there will also be no more musical guests closing out Conan. With time now at a premium, the show will instead focus on the monologue, taped bits, and interviews.

Related Story. The best of Conan 2018. light

That should get you caught up for tonight’s episode of Conan. It will be very interesting to see how things play out but fans should be sure to give Conan O’Brien and company a little time to figure it all out. It’s worth noting that Conan is now one part of the Team Coco channel so expect to see more content online, in podcasts, and via comedy tours. Be sure to check back with Last Night On for continuing coverage on all things Conan O’Brien.