When Conan O’Brien unceremoniously departed NBC in 2010, the network made the legally understandable, but still unfortunate decision to bar Conan from using the beloved characters and bits he’d developed during his Late Night run. While Conan has developed plenty of strong material on TBS, it’s hard not to feel nostalgic for these classic segments that defined Conan’s Late Night era.
Note: Before you ask why Triumph isn’t on the list, NBC actually relented on that one.
If They Mated
It’s not a particularly complicated idea: Take two celebrities who are rumored to be dating, mash up their photos, and broadcast the hideous result. Usually, there would be a twist at the end where two celebrities would mashup into another one (in one segment, Barry Bonds and Martha Stewart were smushed together to create Omarosa from The Apprentice). This bit worked for years, and it was a flagship segment of Conan’s original Late Night show.
The Masturbating Bear
Proof that “Sabre Dance” can make anything funnier. As we see in the above clip, the bear did make one appearance on TBS (maybe they worked out a deal with NBC to let it slide one time), but we haven’t seen him since, and I, for one, miss him every day.
What In The World
It was a simple, yet brilliant premise. Start out with a heavily magnified image, and gradually reveal a bit more. The final image is something hilarious, disturbing, or both. But what really made this bit so great was the jingle, where a “boing”-type noise was followed by what in the world??!!. Conan would frequently play the jingle multiple times throughout the segment, and it would only get funnier each time.
The Walker, Texas Ranger Lever
It wasn’t until 2004, when NBC Universal purchased the rights to Walker, Texas Ranger (among other things), that we collectively learned how ridiculously fun it is to play clips from the show out of context. The bit quickly became extremely popular. Before Conan even announced that he was going to do it, the mere presence of the lever behind the stage let us know that greatness was coming. Of course, I’m reasonably certain that the increased exposure Chuck Norris got from this bit lead to all those tiresome Chuck Norris jokes back in 2006, but this segment was so fantastic that I’m willing to ignore that.
In The Year 2000
Somehow, even though it was 15 years ago, the year 2000 still sounds kinda futuristic. That’s why this classic segment went on well after the beginning of the 21st century. When Conan went to The Tonight Show, he decided to update it by renaming it “In The Year 3000,” but whatever you call it, this was a classic bit, mostly for La Bamba’s glorious falsetto.