Happy birthday Conan O'Brien!
photo credit: Justin Stephens. Image via Twitter
Conan O'Brien (born April 18, 1963) is an American television personality. He is a comedy writer, host, producer, and performer. He is best known as the former host of Late Night with Conan O'Brien, on NBC. He has worked on Saturday Night Live (SNL), The Simpsons, The Tonight Show, and many other sketch comedy projects. O'Brien currently hosts the late night talk show Conan on TBS.
O'Brien was born in Brookline, Massachusetts to Thomas Francis O'Brien and Thomas Francis O'Brien. His father is a professor of medicine at Harvard University and his mother is an attorney at the Boston firm Ropes & Gray. He was raised in an Irish Catholic family, and was the third of six children. He attended Harvard University, writing his senior thesis on William Faulkner's and Flannery O'Connor's use of children as symbols. He was a writer for the school's humor magazine, The Harvard Lampoon, and served as its president during his last two years. Incidentally, Jeff Zucker, who would later serve as O'Brien's boss at NBC, served as the president of The Harvard Crimson at the same time.
Conan as himself on '30 Rock'. Image via Fanpop
After O'Brien left Harvard, he landed his first television writing gig with Not Necessarily the News on HBO. Meanwhile, he performed regularly with improvisational comedy troupes, including The Groundlings. He also wrote briefly for The Wilton North Report. In 1988, he was hired by SNL executive producer Lorne Michaels. Some of his contributions include the sketches "Mr. Short-Term Memory," "The Girl Watchers," and "Nude Beach." He quit SNL in 1991, feeling lost after two events: a broken engagement and the failure of his pilot Lookwell in getting picked up.
He soon received a call from the heads of The Simpsons offering him a job in Los Angeles. He took it, and contributed some of the shows most popular episodes including "Marge vs. the Monorail" and "Homer Goes to College."
Conan O'Brien during his years as a staff writer for 'The Simpsons'. Image source
In 1993, when David Letterman was getting ready to leave Late Night, Lorne Michaels was planning to hire O'Brien as a producer. When, instead, O'Brien said that he wanted to perform, he had to audition for an audience of Simpsons writers, sent by satellite for Michaels to see in New York. He was hired, and after a few years of low ratings, eventually the show hit its stride and O'Brien continued to work on it until 2009.
In June 2009, he began a contract negotiated five years prior to begin as the host of The Tonight Show. After only seven months, NBC attempted to reshuffle their programming in order to get Jay Leno out of primetime. This resulted in The Tonight Show being moved to 12:05am, which O'Brien wouldn't have. He quit shortly after, and is quoted as saying, "Every comedian, every comedian dreams of hosting The Tonight Show and—for seven months—I got to do it. I did it my way, with people I love, and I do not regret a second [of it].... All I ask is one thing, and I'm asking this particularly of young people that watch: Please do not be cynical. I hate cynicism; for the record it's my least favorite quality. It doesn't lead anywhere. Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get. But if you work really hard and you're kind, amazing things will happen."
In 2010, O'Brien completed a comedy tour called "The Legally Prohibited from Being Funny on Television Tour." In November 2010, TBS debuted its late night show Conan, which O'Brien has been hosting ever since.
O'Brien has received many awards and recognitions including Emmys, People's Choice Awards, and Writers Guild Awards. In 2010, he was named one of TIME's 100 most influential people.
- Birthday Date: Friday, 18 April 2014