Conan Is Coming Back to ‘The Tonight Show’ for the First Time Since Jay Leno Kicked Him Out

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Conan Is Coming Back to ‘The Tonight Show’ for the First Time Since Jay Leno Kicked Him Out

For the first time since he was forcibly removed from the host’s chair 14 years ago, Conan O’Brien will reportedly appear on The Tonight Show on April 9th to promote his upcoming travel show Conan O’Brien Must Go, which is decidedly fitting — if Jay Leno had his way, Conan would always be on vacation.

The events of the 2010 Tonight Show conflict are so central to the history of late-night comedy that they even have their own exhaustive Wikipedia page explaining the timeline. As the legend goes, NBC first announced the passing of the torch from Leno to O’Brien in 2004, and, at the time, Leno promised a peaceful transition of power. However, when the time came for Leno to step down in 2009, he simultaneously handed the reins to his successor and hopped on the horse behind him to start competing for the timeslot with The Jay Leno Show. After an incredibly public and wittily worded war of the comedians that ended up roping in most of the late-night world to one side or the other (with most of the support behind Conan, of course), Conan left NBC for good and eventually resurrected his career trajectory with his self-titled talk show Conan on TBS. 

Throughout the entirety of the late-night drama, one figure stayed conspicuously neutral, and, like Switzerland in World War II, walked out of the conflict with his pockets full. Once Leno finally left The Tonight Show for good in 2014, Jimmy Fallon, who stayed put on the fence throughout the schism, stepped into the role that he’s held for the last decade. According to LateNighter, Fallon will host the late-night giant who couldn’t hold the Tonight Show job down for much more than six months on this upcoming Tuesday night. 

As LateNighter pointed out, this isnt technically the first time Conan lent his likeness to The Tonight Show since 2010, as he performed in a pre-recorded sketch that appeared on both The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and The Late Show with Stephen Colbert from the privacy of his bathroom back in 2018. However, this will be the first time Conan will physically visit Studio 6B at Rockefeller Center in New York since he ended his time at The Tonight Show and NBC in a special show on January 23, 2010, exactly five years after the death of Johnny Carson.

In his closing statement, Conan graciously thanked NBC for being his home for 20 years through Saturday Night, Late Night and his sinfully brief time at The Tonight Show, urging his fans to accept the reality of the shitty situation with as much dignity as he had. Conan ended his Tonight Show run by telling his audience, “Please do not be cynical. I hate cynicism. For the record, its my least favorite quality, it doesnt lead anywhere. Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get. But if you work really hard and youre kind, amazing things will happen. Im telling you, amazing things will happen. Im telling you, its just true!”

Now, Conan gets to travel the world and get paid at the same time, just like every other comedian who wants to be Anthony Bourdain. Clearly, amazing things happened to Conan after he was unceremoniously booted off of The Tonight Show, and his return on Tuesday will be a triumphant one. Leno, on the other hand, cant say that hes had nearly as much post-Tonight Show luck as his old rival. It seems like everything Lenos done recently has blown up in his face

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