This will mark the first time in 28 years that the comedian will not host a late-night talk show, the company reported.
Not much is known about the variety show that O’Brien will be fronting, but it will be produced by his production company, Team Coco. Casy Bloys, chief content officer for HBO and HBO Max, said in the company’s press release, “Conan’s unique brand of energetic, relatable, and at times, absurdist, comedy has charmed late-night audiences for nearly three decades. We can’t wait to see what he and the rest of Team Coco will dream up for this brand new, variety format each week.”
O’Brien said in the press release, “In 1993 Johnny Carson gave me the best advice of my career: ‘As soon as possible, get to a streaming platform.’ I’m thrilled that I get to continue doing whatever the hell it is I do on HBO Max, and I look forward to a free subscription.”
Here’s what you need to know:
O’Brien Has Hosted Only 3 Shows in His Decades on Late-Night TV
O’Brien replaced 33-year late-night host David Letterman on Late Night in 1993 and held the seat until 2009, after nearly 3,000 episodes. He then briefly hosted The Tonight Show before launching Conan with TBS in 2010. According to a 2015 ET story, after Letterman, O’Brien was “the longest-tenured late-night host on television,” with 22 years in the host seat at the time.
In March 2020, Conan was forced to undergo changes in order to make programming possible amid the coronavirus pandemic. According to The Hollywood Reporter, he resumed the show toward the end of March; it was filmed on an iPhone without a live audience, and guests made their appearances through a video feed.
At the time, O’Brien stated, “The quality of my work will not go down because technically that’s not possible.”
O’Brien Worked on ‘Saturday Night Live’ & ‘The Simpsons’
O’Brien worked as a writer for Saturday Night Live on 71 episodes between 1987 and 1991 and worked on four episodes of The Simpsons in 1992 and 1993 before foraying into talk shows, according to IMDb. According to SNL Fandom, some of his famous sketches include “Mr. Short-Term Memory” and “The Girl Watchers”; the latter was performed by Tom Hanks.
In a September 2020 interview with Tech Crunch, O’Brien spoke about the ever-changing media and television landscape. He said, ” When I’m doing the traditional talk show, I’m limited. For years and years and years, when it was on network television, I had to take six- and seven-minute turns, which mean I’m having a conversation with you or I’m having a conversation with someone I’ve always dreamed of talking to, whether it’s Tom Hanks or Jim Carrey or Robin Williams. Then after six or seven minutes, there has to be a laugh and we’ll take a break and we’ll be right back.”
He continued, “That’s not a natural conversational flow. What you can do with a podcast is really incredible. I can talk to someone for an hour and 15 minutes. We try and trim them back, but for the most part, people let their guard down. The other thing I prefer: no hair and makeup. It sounds like I’m kidding. But after almost 30 years of people caking my very white face with makeup so that I look like I’m still alive.”
In addition to his new variety show, O’Brien will continue his series of travel specials, Conan Without Borders, in which the comedian “hits the road in this special that brings him and his sense of humor to far-flung destinations.”
Conan will wrap for good in June 2021, after the completion of its 10th season.