Conan O’Brien had the perfect joke about NBC’s town hall controversy

Conan O'Brien appears on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
Conan O'Brien appears on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images) /

Conan O’Brien weighed in on the backlash facing NBC for tonight’s town hall with President Donald Trump

NBC has found itself at the center of a media firestorm. The network is facing severe criticism for deciding to air a town hall event with President Donald Trump at the same time former Vice President Joe Biden is hosting his own event on ABC. The questionable decision by NBC was the perfect setup for a Conan O’Brien zinger.

Calls to boycott NBC and its affiliate networks have rung out over social media. Many more are asking people not to tune in and give President Trump the satisfaction of a ratings victory over Vice President Biden.

Both events when about how you would expect. President Trump touted his accomplishments and refused to get into the specifics on his health or his plans. Former Vice President Biden called for a return to normalcy while dodging questions about packing the courts.

But before either candidate took their respective stage, the spotlight was still on NBC. Everyone from political pundits to comedians had something to say about the network’s decision. But nobody had a better response than former NBC employee Conan O’Brien:

O’Brien is of course referencing his infamous Tonight Show debacle with NBC in 2010. The network originally promised O’Brien the iconic late-night show following Jay Leno’s retirement. When Leno decided he wasn’t done, NBC tried to get the best of both worlds by giving Leno a new show as a lead-in to The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien.

When that combination failed to attract the audiences that NBC wanted, things became even more complicated. NBC tried to move The Jay Leno Show back to the 11:35 p.m. timeslot and move The Tonight Show to 12:05 a.m. O’Brien balked at the idea and walked away. The rest is history as we now have Conan on TBS and The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon on NBC.

O’Brien has been able to make fun of the conflict a number of times over the years. It is the comedian’s healthy way of dealing with what at the time was a painful situation. His joke is a reminder of the overwhelming support he had from the public despite NBC’s best efforts to squander what it had in O’Brien.

Is Jay Leno Donald Trump in Conan O’Brien’s comparison?

All indications are that it was Jay Leno who threw a wrench into NBC’s late-night succession plans. The comedian decided he wasn’t ready to walk away and the network gave in and tried to make the situation align with Leno’s needs.

With his tweet, Conan O’Brien may have pointed out a similar set of circumstances on Thursday night. President Donald Trump said he didn’t want to participate in the debate but then decided he still wanted to be on television. So NBC accommodated him even if it went against what a majority of people said was the right thing to do.

We can take O’Brien’s Leno-Trump comparison even further. Both have signature physical features that make them unmistakeable. Both appeal to very specific demographic that have made them wildly popular. And both have refused to hand over power peacefully. O’Brien may be on to something here…

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What did you think of Conan O’Brien’s joke? Share your thoughts in the comment section and keep checking Last Night On for more highlights from Conan and the rest of late-night television.