And lo, earlier this week, the comedy gods did smile upon the nerds and spake: “Go forth, gentle nerds. Be most unproductive at work. For I have given unto you all of Conan O’Brien’s remote pieces from the last 25 years.”
In what is being called “phase one” of the Conan25 project, this week more than 350 remote segments have been digitally mastered and shared with the world for free. In speaking with many of O’Brien’s writers past and present in September, many of them specifically cited these remotes as favorite things to work on, and they are the perfect encapsulation of Conan the interviewer and Conan the performer. Though we can only present a drop in the bucket, here are the Conan remotes that you cannot miss:
Conan Plays Old-Timey Baseball
Obviously we must begin in Old Bethpage Village, as Conan plays old-timey baseball. It is a perfect capsule of comedy that Conan himself has stated that he wants played at his funeral. If you’ve never seen it before, you, sir, are a horse’s ass! Prepare yourself for a comedic thrashing! And if you’ve already watched it, you know you want to see Conan tell Nell about seeing her cowardly husband at war once again.
Triumph Attends the Premiere of Star Wars: Attack of the Clones
Arguably the definitive Triumph the Insult Comic Dog appearance, this one’s got it all: the first appearance of Blackwolf the Dragonmaster, a guest cameo from Spock, and some of the greatest nerd put-downs ever committed to film. After viewing, you’ll never look at Darth Vader’s chest the same way.
Conan’s Dinner With Jordan Part 1
Team Coco staffer and general weirdo Jordan Schlansky has become a beloved part of the Conan universe ever since his first appearances during the 2008 WGA Strike. This is the first time he and Conan ventured beyond their offices and into the real world. Watch in real time as Conan realizes that the best way to irritate Jordan is to act like a complete doofus in front of strangers and thrill as Jordan almost expresses an emotion!
Conan Forms the Boy Band Dudez A-Plenti
Tapping into the zeitgiest of the turn of the century, Conan recruits a few young gentlemen to be shaped into the boy band of his maniacal dreams. Through tough love, demotions, and choreography, O’Brien molds the men into boys in the form of Dudez A-Plenti: the only boy band that promises “not to sex you.”
Conan’s Trip to Ireland
Before there was Conan Without Borders, Conan only occasionally visited foreign lands. Finland was a major event for the show and created the mold for the Conan Foreign Spectacle, but before that, for St. Patrick’s Day 1999, there was Conan’s trip to Ireland. Even if you saw this clip 20 years ago when it first aired, I guarantee you still think about Conan’s extra-Irish pronunciation of Shaquille O’Neal’s name to a group of Irish schoolchildren.
Andy Richter Goes to Woodstock
In the early, early days of the show, Andy Richter seemed to be the main jetsetter of the program, traveling to Super Bowl XXVII, Mardi Gras, the Grammys, the Tonys, and the NBA Finals within the first 200 episodes alone. But perhaps the most seminal Andy remote was his journey to Woodstock ‘94. He pushed the limits of a few bits, asking everyone he saw if he could take a bite of their food, including the bands he interviewed backstage. He kept things topical by asking everyone about the then-new film Forrest Gump. But he’s forced to just go with the flow once he encounters the poison-ivy–filled mud. So much mud.
The Slipnutz Open for Slipknot
Are the Slipnutz the stupidest Conan bit? No. That would be Fed-Ex Pope. Are the Slipnutz the stupidest Conan bit to eventually open an actual concert at the Continental Airlines Arena in New Jersey to thousands of angry metal fans? Yes. This is that story.
Famous Helping People
Before Conan was a talk-show host, he was a writer for The Simpsons and Saturday Night Live. The beauty of “Famous Helping People” is that even though it fits into the “remote” category, it is effectively one long, ten-minute sketch with an improvisational element. A parody of “We Are the World,” Conan, Andy, and Max Weinberg enlist Sting, the only famous person they could get, to sing as part of their charity. Now they just need to figure out who it’s going to benefit.
Conan Meets His Censor
When Conan moved to TBS, many wondered what life after The Tonight Show would be like. Would being on cable change things? One early remote on the new network gave a small indicator as to how things would be moving forward: Conan could swear a little bit. Happily it also showed audiences one other thing: No matter what network he was on, Conan was still going to be an idiot to people he was meeting for the first time on-camera.
Conan Goes Apartment Hunting With Andy Blitz
One of Conan’s writers needs an apartment, and Conan is all too happy to help. This entire segment is a joyful experience, but it’s worth watching to slowly watch the light go out of the real-estate agent’s eyes as she realizes just what she’s signed up for in agreeing to hang out with Blitz and O’Brien all afternoon.
Andy at the 1995 MTV Video Music Awards
In this remote, Andy talks to a number of mid-’90s music stars and one future president, but who cares? That’s not what this segment is about. This is about the fact that Andy Richter created a number of fake music-videos in which he lip-syncs to Des’ree’s “You Gotta Be,” Eddie Murphy’s “Party All the Time,” and Boyz II Men’s “I’ll Make Love to You,” and forced various music stars and one future president to watch as many of these as he could before they walked away from him.
Conan Goes Bird-watching in Central Park
Nobody torments experts like Conan O’Brien. Here, a perfectly nice group of old folks are trying to engage in a perfectly boring hobby like bird-watching and Conan just won’t let them be. Whether he’s forcing them to answer some truly inane bird questions or forcing them to pretend his pained squawks are a real bird, their pain is the audience’s gain.
Conan Goes Apple Picking With Mr. T
There are some clips, such as this one, that are classics because they allow the audience to learn something new. There is so much fun in putting a person like Mr. T in such an unlikely environment, but ultimately this clip comes down to one thing: You’ll get to hear what Mr. T’s genuine laugh sounds like, and no matter how ready you think you are, you’re not.
Conan Visits the Set of “Martha Stewart Living”
Other times, Conan would travel to visit a celebrity and rather than spending the day bonding with them, as he did with Mr. T, he would instead elect to torture them, which is what happened when he traveled to Connecticut to see Martha Stewart. Here Conan learns that there is more than one kind of salt and finds imported French grey sea-salt to taste “salty.”
Conan Visits Hunter S. Thompson
And then there are meetings such as this one. Conan had tried for some time to get Thompson on his show. Finally, he agreed, under one condition: Conan had to meet him on a remote farm upstate where they would drink hard liquor and shoot guns. So, Conan does what it takes to get Hunter S. Thompson on his show.
Triumph at the 2002 MTV Video Music Awards
It was a bit of a media flare-up at the time, but in 2002, Triumph the Insult Comic Dog appeared on the MTV Video Music Awards, made fun of Moby for a bit, and then attempted to shift over to Eminem, where he was immediately stopped by some very imposing bodyguards. Here you’ll get the red-carpet roasting from before, you’ll see the incident itself, and the harrowing press conference Triumph gave to the press afterwards.
What Conan’s Been Up to During the Writer’s Strike
How do you do an hour-long show when you aren’t allowed to write for it? Some hosts handled this issue better than others, but Conan seemed to excel without a net. Whether it was seeing how long he could spin his wedding ring or a fake fight with Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, Conan was able to entertain his viewers simply by being himself. What’s more, this tour of his office and disruption of a game of Rock Band also serves as the perfect beta test of the less structured Conan podcasts listeners get each week.
Conan Busts Jordan Schlansky and His Elitist Espresso Machine
There’s nothing better than watching a villain being hoisted by their own petard. When Jordan Schlansky purchased a $500 espresso machine on the company dime, it was only a matter of time before Conan learned this and swooped in to exact his own unique form of justice.
Conan Auditions for TV Commercials
With Conan in Los Angeles now, it only makes sense that he explore all that the West Coast has to offer. In this case, Conan takes a class on how to audition for television commercials. The moral of this piece seems to be, “Never give Conan a note or he will amplify the thing that you want him to stop doing to an unbearable level.”
Conan Goes to Houston to Find Viewers
In the early days of his show, Conan discovered that Late Night aired at 2:40 a.m. in Houston, Texas. The only logical step was to go there, drive around late at night, and find out who was watching the show at that time. He finds a few TVs with his face on it, but more importantly, he makes a lot of friends along the way. We’ll never forget you, Buffalo.
Ice Cube, Kevin Hart, & Conan Share a Lyft Car
Is it product placement? Quite possibly. Is it a lot of fun to watch these three drive around downtown Los Angeles, buy gas-station snacks, and argue about what fast-food meal is the best? Very much so.
Conan Records a Song in Memphis
Elvis and rockabilly music loom large for Conan. They inspired his distinctive haircut, his music, and much of his first live tour. So, when the opportunity presented itself for Conan, why not travel to Sun Studio, where Elvis recorded his first few songs, and follow in his footsteps?
Conan Trains as a Luchador
Conan the globetrotter has provided a number of memorable moments for his various shows, but how many of them have inspired their own Funko Pops? Conan and Andy both suit up while in Mexico and take to the ring. They both get very into character.
Conan & Jeff Garlin Visit Their Old Apartment in Chicago
In 2006, when Conan took Late Night to Chicago, it brought out a lot of early Conan history. This clip features a very small amount of footage from the Happy Happy Good Show, the sketch show that Conan mounted in 1988 with Robert Smigel and Bob Odenkirk. It also features a tour of the apartment that he and Jeff Garlin once shared when they were roommates. Thankfully, the sweltering Chicago summer only made them stronger.
Jordan Schlansky Lectures Conan About Coffee in Naples
If a person is taking Conan on a trip to any foreign country, especially if that person is someone that Conan loves to irritate, my advice to you would be to not take Conan to a place that serves only potent little cups of caffeine. Jordan learns this lesson the hard way.
Conan Tries to Sell His Ford Taurus
Conan is a bit of a gear-head. You can tell, of course, by his choice in car: a 1992 Ford Taurus. He takes his car to some classic-car experts in Manhattan to attempt to sell it off. Instead he finds a bunch of stuck-up jerks who only want to lowball him and make fun of his really cool, green, not-piece-of-junk car.
Andy Becomes a Meteorologist
A young Andy Richter visits The Weather Channel to follow his dreams. Here he makes a variety of internet jokes, speaks with a lot of meteorologists who very clearly don’t want to talk to him, and sets up the ultimate Weather Channel joke that will be ripped off for years to come.
Triumph at the 1999 Westminster Dog Show
We were not going to get through this list without seeing Triumph at Westminster. But how do you pick one? Above, Triumph’s first appearance at Westminster, ending with his dramatic removal. Perhaps you’d prefer the time he got kicked out in 2000. Or the time he showed up in 2001, somehow, as part of USA’s broadcasting team.
Conan Goes to a Pawn Shop
Some remotes are perfect little examples of pure economy. In this one, for example, the show has a prop room filled with very strange objects that were used for one ten-second joke. Take them to a pawn shop and each object gets a new life as a stranger is forced to react to it. Brilliant.
Conan Goes to Trucking School
A perfect Conan remote, in my opinion, features an expert who demands things to be done in a particular way — the more mundane the activity, the better — and an obstinate Conan who will not allow it to happen. When Conan goes to trucking school and decides that there’s gotta be a cooler way to exit a big rig than the way he’s being taught, you’ve got a perfect Conan moment.