Conan O’Brien Returns to ‘Tonight Show,’ Reminisces About 10 Minutes As Host

‘You’ll move on and someone else will be in this studio,’ Conan warned Fallon
Conan O’Brien Returns to ‘Tonight Show,’ Reminisces About 10 Minutes As Host

It’s been 14 bitter years since the ravenous Jay Leno snatched The Tonight Show back from Conan O’Brien, but the towering redhead finally made his return to the show’s studios last night. Jimmy Fallon led a standing ovation for O’Brien, who was in a nostalgic mood about his “10 minutes” hosting the show.

Memories flooded back for O’Brien, not only about his abbreviated run on The Tonight Show but for his many seasons hosting Late Night with Conan O’Brien, which filmed in the studio across the hall from Fallon’s current home. “The first thing that will hit you -- and it will hit you too because one day, you'll have this show as long as you want it, but when you're 98, you'll move on and someone else will be in this studio,” O’Brien told Fallon. “When someone else is in your studio, it feels weird.”

Who’s in O’Brien’s old studio these days, once home to David Letterman’s original late-night king? Turns out it’s currently occupied by Kelly Clarkson. “I love Kelly Clarkson,” O’Brien said. “Who doesn't love Kelly Clarkson? But still, I felt like, ‘IT'S NOT RIGHT! BLASPHEMY! THEY SHOULD HAVE BURNED IT TO THE GROUND!’”

“It should be a museum!” Fallon agreed.

“Then Kelly came out to say hi and I said, ‘Don't talk to me! You make me feel sick!’" O’Brien (probably) joked. 

O’Brien shared more memories about his early days as a talk show host, including a dressing room near the set of a New York news program called Live at Five. Aging celebrities would guest on the local show and then stop by Conan’s dressing room on their way out. “I'm talking 70-, 75-year-old actors who are now doing local theater,” he said. “They would bang on my dressing room door and they'd be like, ‘Come on, put me on the show!’” In particular, O’Brien remembered a visit from comic Frank Gorshin, who played the Riddler on the 1960s Batman show. Gorshin would be “doing voices outside the door. ‘You let me in, you dirty rat,’ like voices from the 1930s. ‘Now see here, kid, you're gonna let me on the show.’"

Fallon and O’Brien also waxed nostalgic about Fallon’s first ever talk-show appearance, a jittery spot on Conan’s Late Night back in 1999.

The thing Conan remembered most about Fallon’s nervous rookie turn? “I come out in the hallway, and your parents are in the hall. And they were like, ‘How did Jimmy do?’ And I said, ‘That kid's going all the way!’”

“Yeah!” shouted Fallon, clapping his hands.

“And your parents were like, ‘Conan says he's going all the way!’"

“Yes!” exclaimed Fallon.

“And then I realized,” said O’Brien, “I say that to everybody.” 


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