Conan O'Brien: A Career Timeline

Amy Keyishian

Conan O'BrienAfter all the drama, not to mention a frenzy of promo videos, Conan O’Brien is returning to broadcast television tonight. So he’s gone from NBC to the where-is-it network of TBS, a network formerly known for the George Lopez Show, Tyler Perry’s House of Payne, and Seinfeld reruns. But it’s Conan, and he’s back.

Wait a minute. What drama? What rock have you been under? Uch, sit down, I’ll run it down for you.

  • 1991: Conan O’Brien works at The Simpsons as a writer and producer.
  • 1993: Conan takes over the Late Night slot from David Letterman. It wasn’t a hit right away, but people (people like me, anyway) liked that he was offbeat, and didn’t expect him to hit it out of the park right away.
  • 2004: By now, his show is successful -- so successful that as part of his new contract with NBC, Conan is promised the hosting slot at The Tonight Show when Jay Leno retires in 2009.
  • 2009: Jay Leno makes a brave move to prime time, but his efforts tank at first. So he sticks to it and finds his way. Oh no wait, no he doesn’t. He made a deal with NBC to have a half-hour show starting at 11:35 p.m., shoving Conan to the 12:05 slot. Conan demurs and takes a $45 million buyout ($12 million of which was earmarked for the staff he moved from New York to LA for the new show).
  • February 2010: Conan opens his Twitter account TeamCoco. This is the first fans hear from him, since that exit contract put a gag order on him, prohibiting him from appearing on TV.
  • April 2010: Conan takes a live show on a 30-city tour called “The Legally Prohibited From Being Funny on Television Tour.” He launches TeamCoco. He also announces that he’ll be taking George Lopez’s slot on TBS (after getting the thumbs-up from Lopez, whose show will start an hour later).
  • Tonight: Conan. 11 p.m. TBS.

So what kind of people like Conan? Weirdos. I mean, the guy has recurring characters like The Masturbating Bear, Robot on a Toilet, and Pimpbot5000. He and his sidekick Andy Richter have staring contests that Conan always wins because he’s the boss. He drives his desk around LA. He … listen. Either you like the lanky redhead or you don’t. If you haven’t sipped from the ginger-haired comedy before now, try it out tonight (or on TeamCoco tomorrow morning).

Are you a Conan fan?

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