Conan O'Brien talks hosting his show from Comic-Con
Conan O’Brien is going to goof around with the geeks—as well as the casts of Game of Thrones, The Hunger Games, and The Walking Dead—when he hosts his TBS late-night talk show, Conan, from Comic-Con (July 8-11, 11 p.m.). He briefly popped up on a panel at the gigantic pop culture festival in 2011, but this will be the first time he goes full-on Con. What can you expect to see when Coco invades San Diego? Gaze into your future-forecasting quantum orb or simply scroll down for a Q&A with O’Brien.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How are you feeling as we approach Comic-Con? Nervous? Excited? Or is it a cocktail of emotion?
CONAN O’BRIEN: It is a cocktail of emotion. I would say it’s two parts excitement, one part trepidation, three parts exhilaration, four ounces of Cointreau, and just an incredible amount of tequila.
How did the idea to host Comic-Con come about?
The good idea is the minute someone says it, you just go, “Oh. Right!” Someone had the idea a year ago. We approached Comic-Con and they couldn’t have been nicer about it. They said, “We want to do it with you,” and they’ve been incredible. It was one of those ideas that was almost suspiciously obvious and easy. Stuff started falling together immediately. There’s such a wealth of not just talent there, which is one reason to go. But it’s also such an incredible—I don’t even want to say subculture anymore because it’s become huge and there’s so much there comedically. And I don’t even mean to make fun of it because it’s just rich if you do it properly and you go to this environment and give yourself over to it… I am one of these people in some ways. I want to go and lose myself in the Comic-Con experience and have the show altered by it, so some of the things that we’re shooting are really fun and you’ll see it’s an opporuntity for me to stretch. There are some great comedic tropes we can try.
How are you preparing to the enter the nexus of nerdom?
I’m channeling my adolescence. I think I’m a good match for Comic-Con San Diego. I really believe that of all the hosts that could possibly go there, I might be the best fit, because a lot of these people are cool compared to me. I’m one of the hosts where this is actually a step up, right? Me going to Comic-Con is like another host getting to go to the ESPYs. This is aspirational.
What kind of training regimens are you putting yourself through?
I’m practicing putting a lot of things in my pants to get that superhero bulge. I’ve been walking around with a clock radio in my underwear the last four days. So that’s good. Doing a lot of core work. I’m having abs tattooed onto my body. I have a seven-pack because I was drunk when I did it, so there’s an ab off to the side that’s sort of a stray ab. One of the things we really have to train for is learning to go up to women dressed as Wonder Woman and just look them up straight in the eye and not be distracted. I’m really working hard on that because truthfully, I really lose it around Wonder Women. I just think they’re the bee’s knees.
Are you Rosetta Stone-ing Klingon?
I’m learning Klingon, I’m learning Elvish. There’s an app for everything. And I have a tutor teaching me Norse mythology so that I can be ready to speak to Thor, should I bump into him. When I was growing up, my brother Luke had a massive comic book collection, and I’ve been flipping through those, so I’m all caught up on Marvel comics, up until 1978. I think I’m in good shape.
What are you binge-ing in preparation?
I was already done with Game of Thrones. To get ready for Hunger Games, instead of just watching the movies again, I thought I should hunt my children in the woods. So I’ve been chasing them through various woods on my property. They don’t know it’s a game and they’re very frightened. They’re crying a lot. I’m preparing for The Walking Dead by not moisturizing my skin, so that it will be rotting off my face by the time I get to Comic-Con.
What is on your Comic-Con bucket list?
I’d like to take nine slave Leias out for coffee. Just sitting around with them, drinking coffee and talking—that would be an amazing experience. I’d like to be part of CNN’s 24-hour coverage of Wonder Woman’s missing invisible plane. With constant updates like, “We don’t think we found it, but then again, how would we know because it’s invisible?” Anderson Cooper has agreed to help me with that.
Can you tease some of the bits that you’re prepping?
There will be a pre-taped piece or two, which will pay homage to some of the tropes of comic lore, and people should look forward to those. It will be a set unlike any other set we’ve ever had. Whenever we travel our show—if we take the show to Chicago or Toronto or Texas—we like the DNA of our show to have been changed. And I think our show is going to be completely different [in San Diego]. Imagine the Conan show bombarded by gamma rays and transmuted into a green muscular version of the Conan show that speaks in broken sentences and smashes thing in a rage and yet his pants never mysteriously rip, exposing his green genitalia. That is the Conan show people are going to see.
Let’s talk about the guests.
We really want to start the week with a primer—people who could guide us into the world of Comic-Con—so on July 8, the first show, it’s Elijah Wood and Chris Hardwick. Those are people who are going to give me pointers and guide me through the week. July 9, it’s The Hunger Games: Mockingjay—Part 2, which is really going to be intense. Between Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth and myself, that’s a lot of raw sexuality in one room. And, of course, Andy as well. The addition of Larry King will counterbalance all that raw, powerful sexuality. July 10 is the stars of Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead. That’s going to be craziness. I’m imagining a fight and we’re going to be getting Game of Thrones people hacking away at The Walking Dead cast. And it’s just going to be insane. July 11 is a surprise, which we are not allowed to announce. I’ve been sworn to secrecy. People will not be disappointed.
How about just a hint?
It’s not Plastic Man. I’m not even sure who has the rights to Plastic Man. I don’t think anybody wants Plastic Man. He’s just a guy with very poor muscle tone.
In one of Triumph’s legendary bits, he insulted a galaxy of Star Wars fans at the Attack of the Clones premiere. How will he attempt to top himself in San Diego?
The city of San Diego banned Triumph in 2008, he cannot return until the dachshund drops the charges.
What is one thing that you will not do at Comic-Con?
It’s what I really want to do, but I have vowed not to make the Spock “Live long and prosper” sign while saying “May the force be with you.” I’m told that’s like wearing a Yankees cap in the North End of Boston. That will get you killed. There’s part of me that always wants to do the worst thing possible, and I really want to dive into a giant crowd of hardcore Comic-Con people, make the Spock “Live long and prosper” sign while shouting, “May the force be with you!” and then just watch various Mutant Ninja Turtles, overweight Spider-Men, various Wonder Women, and Yodas attack me with furniture.
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