Next month, Conan O’Brien — somehow now the longest-running host of late night — will dramatically shake up the traditional late-night format by moving to a half-hour show. His band (Jimmy Vivino and the Basic Cable Band) will be scuttled from the show, and Conan will focus more on the things that he loves doing: Traveling, longer-form interviews with celebrities, etc.
Recently, on Dax Shepard’s Armchair Expert podcast, Conan also shared with Dax who the worst guest of his career has been. Given how long he’s been on late night (25 years), and how many guests he’s interviewed (around 12,000 while doing more than 4,000 episodes) the worst obviously has to be very bad to qualify for the honor. However, while O’Brien couldn’t immediately remember his name — Abel Ferrara, the eccentric director of Bad Lieutenant — he had no problem recalling the experience.
Abel Ferrara got booked on our show and he’s a wild eccentric … and he fled, during the show, before his segment. He ran away, got into the elevator, and was out on the street when [my segment producer] gave chase. He caught him, led him back, made him — pushing him — got him backstage. He came on camera against his will. And then, he came out and I think started yelling at me.
Conan went on to say that he was probably drunk, and if not, he should have been. “It was entertaining, in the way that if you ate 15 cloves of garlic, you wouldn’t say it was a great experience. But you would remember it. It was what we call ‘compellevision.'”
You can watch that interview here, and it is indeed a trainwreck, but it can be accurately described as an interview that’s hard to look away from.
That episode was from 1996, during Conan’s fourth season of Late Night, so Ferrara has been his worst guest for a long time.
During the podcast, O’Brien also spoke about what a nightmare it is to have drunk guests on in general. “They think they’re funny, but all they do is laugh at the things that they say and the pauses they take are way too long. But in their mind, they killed it.”
He also hinted as to one guest who came out very drunk, saying only that he was a cast member “on a certain show where everyone’s trapped on an island” and that he had “way too much to drink and comes out and I [could] smell it.”
(Via Armchair Expert)