Conan O’Brien Tells Ed Helms About the Real Andy Bernard
Sorry, Cornell — the real Nard Dog is a Harvard man.
Earlier this week, Conan O’Brien hosted prolific actor and comedian Ed Helms on his podcast, Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend, where he told the acclaimed Office actor about the real-life Harvard alumnus for whom Helms’ iconic character Andy Bernard is named. O’Brien, once the college roommate of The Office (U.S.) creator Greg Daniels, remembers the real Bernard as a kind, affable classmate who happened to own the very first desktop computer that O’Brien ever laid his lanky Irish eyes upon.
Maybe the real Pam Beesley also found Harvard Bernard’s computer “in the warehouse.”
“(Bernard) was very nice, a very nice person, but I think he was the first person I saw who had a computer on his desk,” O’Brien explained of his Harvard classmate with whom he shared a freshman year dorm building. The legendary late-night host made no mention of the real Bernard’s singing ability or his feelings toward sweaters — O’Brien only dated himself by recalling how Bernard’s Apple IIe desktop computer dwarfed O’Brien’s own electric typewriter.
Though O’Brien revealed scant few details about his former classmate besides mentions of Bernard’s affability and his advanced early 1980s technology, Helms remarked that the real Bernard sounds much more sufferable than the character who became Helms’ big break, saying, “Greg (Daniels) always told me that he named the character after his friend, and as the show went on, Andy Bernard was a pretty toxic fellow.” Helms did clarify, though, “I adored Andy Bernard and tried to imbue him with a lot of, like, pathos and humanity despite, you know, some toxic inclinations.”
Throughout the show’s run, Helms would remind himself that there was a real human being whose name was attached to Dunder Mifflin Scranton’s angriest a-capella-singing salesman. “I often would think, like, ‘Greg, this is kind of a dick move. Is this really your friend, this Andy Bernard? Is this your way of taking out some frustrations with him?’” Helms explained to O’Brien. The actor behind the fake Bernard went on to recall the day Daniels finally showed him an image of the real deal, saying, “I just remember seeing a picture of this very sweet looking guy in like an L.L. Bean parka on a hike, and I was just like, ‘What are you doing to this poor man?’”
O’Brien maintained that Daniels and Bernard were nothing but amicable, and that the Office character shared no qualities with O’Brien and Daniels’ old Harvard buddy besides a name. However, O’Brien joked, “Greg also had a friend named Dwight Schrute in college.”