Late-Night Nerd


by Madeline Stokell

The battle for late-night has been dominating the air waves for years. As it stands, there are no less than a half a dozen late-night variety shows kicking and giggling to win your laughs every night. But it’s not all fun with this industry.

None know this bitter side of late-night better than Conan O’Brien.  In 2009, O’Brien took over The Tonight Show from Jay Leno. A year later, O’Brien was removed from the network.

But something happened then, revealing what separates Conan from the other late night hosts (Ya know…besides his 6’4” stature and flaming red hair). Thousands of fans rallied across the country.  Conan launched a nationwide live tour. Before they knew it, Team Coco was born and Conan was signed on for a new show on TBS.

Conan O’Brien’s show won’t die.

Television is the most cutthroat business out there. When a network says you’re done, they mean it. You’re done. So why won’t Conan’s show die? Because something has changed in recent years.

Nerds have found their voice in television. It is the most loyal and outspoken demographic. We have entered the era of the Nerd Empowerment.

When nerds find something they love, they hold on to it, strong and loyal (as so clearly evidenced with Firefly and Community).  When Conan’s show was put to rest, his fans would not stay quiet.

So, why did Conan receive so much nerd support?

The answer is simple: Conan is a fellow nerd. Yep, he’s as dorky as they come. And as you will find with most nerds out there, he is unfailingly kind and cares for his show just as much as any fan out there.

If you watch about three minutes of Conan, you will realize that he is different than the other hosts in the best way possible. He navigates the ins and outs of late-night comedy (usually with an invisible canoe that he paddles across stage) as easily as he breathes. He’s silly. And a little crazy.

It’s not aired, but after each taping of his show, Conan comes out and performs a song for the studio audience. It gives them a special side to the show that only a select few have seen. The formula for TV resurrection is in large part due to the fans, but sometimes the real secret to  success is when the people behind the shows love and  fight for it just as much. He is the embodiment of taking a devastating situation (like getting fired without getting a chance) and making something great out of it.

If you haven’t checked Conan out on TBS, do. It’s hilarious and relevant, even two years after his Tonight Show debacle made history. Each show is refreshing, funny and deserving of the love it gets.

Conan O’Brien is the king of late-night nerds. All hail.

Conan airs Monday – Thursday on TBS, 8pm and 11pm.
image credit Kevin Fillie


  1. Tommy Jr (Beefyamazeballs)July 28th, 2012 at 11:28 am

    I’ve been a Conan fan since he debuted in the 90’s. I always thought of him as a nerdy guy. I was lucky enough to have went his tour out here in San Diego a few years ago, and also to one of his shows (when Chuck closed production). What I love about this show is the chemistry between him and Andy. They are both a great hosts to their guests and never treats them badly. Long live TeamCoCo

  2. PatJuly 28th, 2012 at 4:42 pm

    I love Conan! You are so right, nerds make the best fans. I want a Nerd Empowerment bumpersticker. And T-shirt. And night light! Thanks for your insights, look forward to more.

  3. WillJuly 28th, 2012 at 5:20 pm

    Great article! My inner nerd was pouring out all over my keyboard.

  4. Andy R.July 28th, 2012 at 11:27 pm

    I think that Conan gets a little too much credit. That Richter guy seems to me be a driving force a really handsome for a man that is not getting payed as much as he should be.

  5. Emily GrossJuly 29th, 2012 at 7:06 am

    Love Conan! Also love the caricature, that would be a good bumper sticker/t-shirt! Going to check out this guys site.

  6. TheBenson108July 29th, 2012 at 10:31 am

    Im a huge fan of Conan; got a ticket to see him on the Tonight Show the week it got cancelled, so i couldnt go… Since, Ive been to two of the CONAN tapings, got to sit in the front the first time i went. After the show he went to sing his song and came right up to me and shook my hand, in a very genuine real way. Love this guy!!

  7. Tommy Jr (Beefyamazeballs)July 30th, 2012 at 10:39 am

    LOL at what Andy R said. hmmm could that really be the real Andy Richter that replied.. and yes, he should get more pay!!

  8. Mary T BowersAugust 3rd, 2012 at 12:01 am

    I love Conan’s off-beat wackiness and now I understand the source… he has learned to embrace his inner nerd!!

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