Nepo Nephew Jason Sudeikis Made His Late-Night Debut When His Uncle George Wendt Hosted Christmas Dinner on ‘Conan’
As Ted Lasso begins its final season, let’s not forget where star and co-creator Jason Sudeikis got his TV comedy start — at Christmas dinner, on Late Night with Conan O’Brien with Uncle Norm.
During a late-night appearance in late December, 1998, Cheers star and comedy veteran George Wendt solved his personal problem of working during the holidays by bringing his entire extended family with him to celebrate the season on a soundstage with O’Brien. The segment featured Wendt’s actual nephew Sudeikis razzing his hot-shot uncle over an electric carving knife and unveiling an unseemly clip of the beloved barfly dressed up as Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz — if that drag bit doesn’t upset our friends in the Tennessee State Senate enough, the episode even showed Andy Richter coming out of the closet.
Sudeikis was already a seasoned improviser and sketch comedian at such Chicago comedy institutions as ImprovOlympic and The Second City, but his guest-starring role at Christmas dinner was only the second screen credit of his young career. Interestingly, Sudeikis’ first TV role came a year prior in a TV movie called Alien Avengers II, starring — you guessed it — George Wendt. Here’s another fun fact: Did you know the word nepotism comes from the Latin word for nephew?
In case it needs clarifying, I’m not actually accrediting Sudeikis’ accomplishments on Saturday Night Live, 30 Rock or Ted Lasso to his brief time playing himself at Christmas dinner on Late Night. Sudeikis’ big break wouldn’t come until five years after the Conan appearance when Lorne Michaels hired him as a writer on SNL. But with Ted Lasso set to premiere its third, final and undoubtedly critically adored season, it’s worth remembering Sudeikis’ roots.
Every star has to start somewhere — Sudeikis began his career on a soundstage where everybody knew his name.