Conan O’Brien roared back into late night Monday with the debut of his new TBS show Conan, eight months after his well-publicized, nasty split from NBC and The Tonight Show.
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The red-headed funnyman, flanked by his trusty right-hand man Andy Richter, addressed the severance with the Peacock Network in both a skit and his monologue, joking he named the new show Conan “so [he’d] be harder to replace.
“It’s not easy doing a late-night show on a channel without a lot of money and that viewers have trouble finding — so that’s why I left NBC,” the 47-year-old comic said. “I’ve dreamed of being a talk-show host on basic cable ever since I was 46.”
On the program, O’Brien proved his previous “no actors as guests” edict was a hoax, as he welcomed Seth Rogen, Glee‘s Lea Michele and celebrated guitarist Jack White on as guests.
O’Brien hosted NBC’s The Tonight Show until this past January, when poor ratings and company politics led NBC to replace him with the man he’d replaced less than a year before, Jay Leno.
Conan airs on weeknights on TBS at 11/10c, with Lopez Tonight following at 12/11c.