''Late Night'''s Conan O'Brien talks Emmys. The funnyman shares his secrets with EW
Conan O'Brien
Credit: Conan O'Brien: Chris Haston

The Emmy Awards: nut-busting fun or self-congratulatory love-in? Before you answer, read this: The brainy, zany host of ”Late Night With Conan O’Brien” has been tapped to emcee the 54th annual Emmy telecast, airing Sept. 22 on NBC. ”I have a lot of strategies,” confides O’Brien ”and one is to keep saying over and over, ‘Who will win Lady Emmy?’ to see if maybe by the end of the night, people are, without irony, saying, ‘Hey, I went home with Lady Emmy. I’m really excited!”’ As O’Brien, 39, prepares to unleash his subversive schemes on helpless celebrities, let’s give him the red-carpet treatment, EW-style.

–What’s the main difference between hosting a talk show and hosting the Emmys?
When you’re hosting the Emmys, no one gives a damn about you. The whole audience is thinking about themselves. So I have to make it as much about them as possible to keep their interest. Celebrities are like 4-year-old children. They are constantly thinking about their own needs — and they soil themselves.

–The Emmys received a lot of press this year for nominating cooler shows. How will you reflect that in your hosting style?
I’m gonna devote the first three minutes of my monologue to a minor character on ”The Shield,” and it’ll be so hip and inside that I’ll be the only one laughing…. I’m gonna make a lot of arbitrary references to Nelly and Alicia Keys. And I’m gonna keep talking about ”the chronic,” even though in my case it will be referring to a chronic lower-back pain.

–Don Knotts won five Emmys for his work on ”The Andy Griffith Show” but was never even nominated while on ”Three’s Company.” Discuss.
I believe that had he not tied a scarf around his neck, the Mr. Furley character would have won seven back-to-back Emmys. Also, as Furley, he was replacing Roper, and I think that’s just a hole you can never climb out of.

–Were you hurt that you weren’t nominated for Outstanding Hairstyling?
I am quite offended. I’ve had the people from Industrial Light & Magic contact me: ”How do you do that with your hair?” Like, the people that created the lightsaber want to know how my hair does the things it can do.