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Conan O’Brien on Dealing with an Ever Changing Media Landscape – TechCrunch

“Like most of them The best things in my life, “explains Conan O’Brien with a wry smile.” The success of the podcast was a complete surprise. “The answer is a typically selfless answer from the comedian. Since “Conan O’Brien Needs A Friend” started almost two years ago, the show has quickly become one of the most popular in the country on the podcasting charts.

For those who have followed his 30+ year career in the entertainment industry, it’s easy to see why. The quick-witted and almost superhumanly sociable transition to podcasting seems almost natural in retrospect. After all, hosting a number of late night talk shows for decades doesn̵

7;t exactly start from scratch when it comes to starting a new entertainment business. There are also no tens of millions of Twitter followers and your own online media company, Team Coco.

Not that it was always easy. A long-promised Tonight Show slot wasn’t all he’d hoped for, which resulted in a very public late-night exit from the most coveted show after just under eight months. It was the shortest tenure in the show’s history, culminating in a televised “exit interview” with Steve Carrell in which The Office star tore up his NBC badge. But O’Brien’s nocturnal break was short-lived. He returned later that year with TBS ‘Conan, which will celebrate its 10th anniversary in November (and will be renewed through at least 2022).

With the launch of “Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend” in 2018, the comedian welcomed the newfound freedom of podcasting.

“There are a few things about podcasts that are superior or more fun than a talk show,” an O’Brien with quarantined hair said in an interview with TechCrunch Disrupt earlier this week. “When I do the traditional talk show, I’m limited. For years when it was on network television, I had to take turns for six and seven minutes, which means having a conversation with you or a conversation with someone I’ve always dreamed of talking about, whether it’s Tom Hanks or Jim Carrey or Robin Williams is. Then after six or seven minutes there has to be a laugh and we take a break and be right back.

“It’s not a natural flow of conversation,” he continues. “What you can do with a podcast is really amazing. I can talk to someone for an hour and 15 minutes. We’re trying to cut them back, but for the most part people are letting go of their guard. The other thing I prefer: no hair and makeup. It sounds like I’m kidding. But after nearly 30 years of people baking my very white face together with makeup, I look like I’m still alive. “

Team Coco has produced a total of 10 shows, including shows by longtime buddy Andy Richter and actor Rob Lowe, writers Mike Sweeney and Jessie Gaskel’s title Inside Conan, and a six-part mini-series interview with Dana Carvey, SNL alum.

“I don’t want to set a number target,” says O’Brien. “I’m amazed – in two years we’ve put out 10 different podcasts, some of which are not written and some are written. I’m not sitting around saying, “Hey, we have to have 35 podcasts by then.” Because I want them to be good. “

The talk show has also evolved, going through its own changes in the process.

In 2019, the program was converted to a half-hour format. O’Brien dropped the desk and suit and adopted a looser format, possibly inspired in part by the new freedoms his podcasting ventures allowed. When COVID-19 made face-to-face presentation impossible, he, like so many others, started working from home and switched to remote zoom interviews. Meanwhile, “Conan O’Brien Needs A Friend” continued to publish weekly interviews.

When asked if he planned to resume his late night show after the contract expired in a few years, O’Brien appeared unsure.

“I think it’s a mistake to think of it this way: are you going to stop doing the show and just doing the podcast? Or will you retire and then quietly work on your letters in a hut? I love creating things. I have a lot of energy. I love trying to make people laugh. And so I see it all converge. I think the message I would have for anyone who sees TechCrunch Disrupt right now is that people need to open their minds a little. When I do podcasts, it doesn’t forbid me to do something, maybe it doesn’t have to be for gymnasts, it could be for anyone. “

Credit: Bryce Durbin

Several decades of success seem to have put O’Brien in the relatively unique position of being somewhat platform independent. Not being tied to a single medium is a strong place to prepare for the unexpected technological changes that will continue to disrupt and turn the entertainment industry on its head.

“In five years our entertainment can be in pill form,” he says. “You could beat up the sopranos. You could just take a whole bottle of Sopranos and then just drink a lot of water and then, you know, just don’t need red meat.

“It will sound like a stretch, but I think that’s the most exciting thing I’ve seen in my career because there were so many opportunities to be creative. There are so many ways to make people laugh and I enjoy these new opportunities. I think if you are someone who has been around for as long as me, a choice is yours. You can be afraid of change or be happy about it. “

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