Conan O'Brien's Tonight Show Comeback After Departure

Conan O'Brien explores new ventures and reflects on past.

by Nouman Rasool
Conan O'Brien's Tonight Show Comeback After Departure
© Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

In a notable TV moment, Conan O'Brien made his nostalgic return to "The Tonight Show" on Thursday, stepping back into a studio that some four years ago marked a key chapter in his career. This special appearance went down during Tuesday's episode airing on April 9, as O'Brien joined the show's host, Jimmy Fallon, in discussing his latest project: the Max series "Conan O’Brien Must Go." That made the appearance on the show special—more special because it was O'Brien’s first appearance on the show since he left back in 2010 after that really rocky yet really funny two-year stint as a host.

Now 60, O'Brien got candid with Fallon as he looked back on his short but impactful time helming "The Tonight Show." He hilariously shared how hard it had been to have an interview with a guest where you try not to concentrate on the height difference between the two of them, and Fallon burst out laughing, saying how much of a fan he was of O'Brien and how starstruck he had been with the big character from O'Brien when they met.

Conan's Surreal Return

The comedian said going back to the show was surreal, a flood of memories from his time at the helm. O'Brien also broached his recent foray into the podcasting space with "Conan O'Brien Needs a Friend." Lajson launched in 2018, featuring O'Brien in extended conversation with the celebrity guests who typically visit his television program for five-minute interview segments.

The podcast consists of O'Brien interviewing a mix of notable personages and demonstrates his capability to connect and be charmingly relevant—be it speaking to former President Barack Obama, Paul McCartney, Prince, or Carol Burnett.

The episode featuring Nicole Richie and musical guest Benson Boone will be O'Brien's first on the soundstage since he has come back. O'Brien's tour of duty as host of "The Tonight Show" came to a jarring, undesired end in 2010 when Jay Leno reclaimed his old job in a move that forced the departure of O'Brien.

This change has struck up a heated discussion with regard to the fate of the show and the sincere devotion on the part of O'Brien for its tradition. Despite the setbacks, O'Brien launched his TBS talk show, "Conan," which enjoyed an 11-season run from 2010 to 2021.

His current project, however, is "Conan O'Brien Must Go," a travel series reminiscent of his old travel specials for "Conan." The show purports to bring the audience O'Brien's comedic brilliance coupled with his adventurousness.

For his part, while appearing on the "Club Random" podcast of Bill Maher, Jay Leno minimized the rumors of sabotage against O'Brien's stint in "The Tonight Show," emphasizing that television is a very unpredictable place and said that he had absolutely nothing to do with the problems that predated the show.