“When you’re a show that’s based on just interviewing one guest, and that guest doesn’t show up, you’re really screwed,” Conan O’Brien joked last night on his TBS talk show Conan after Kumail Nanjiani bailed less than an hour before he was supposed to appear.
At the beginning of Thursday night’s show, O’Brien explained why Nanjiani was unable to make it. “He’s shooting Silicon Valley and there was some kind of SNAFU in their shooting schedule and he has work to do.” The worst part, though? “We found that out half an hour ago, while I was having my nap!”
In the 25 years O’Brien has been doing a late-night show, he explained, this is only the second time he can recall that someone bailed on their appearance last minute. “Liza Minnelli canceled and she’s known — she’s a great artist — but she’s known for sometimes flaking out,” the host confided. “So Liza Minnelli and, in that same category of troublesome diva, Kumail Nanjiani.”
Before getting into the show, O’Brien had one more joke to make at Nanjiani’s expense. “Kumail was supposed to be here and wanted to be here,” he told the audience. “He was gonna come out and he was going to talk about Stuber and then show a clip from his movie.” It seemed like O’Brien was going to play the clip (after all he does somehow need to fill his guest-less show ), until he turns to sidekick Andy Richter and said, “Hey, if the guy doesn’t show up, we’re not going to show the clip promoting his movie. That’s not how this works.”
“You gotta show up to get the cookie,” Richter agreed.
“We’re going to show a clip from the movie that opens against Stuber this weekend,” O’Brien announced. “This is a clip for a struggling little movie that I think needs our help…We’re going to try to give it a boost. And we just think that’s fair, that’s karma.” The movie? None other than Disney’s live-action The Lion King.
Nanjiani did still manage to make the show. Kind of. Later, O’Brien played a video that Nanjiani sent from the Silicon Valley set, which also included his costar Thomas Middleditch. “Hey, Conan. Sorry Kumail couldn’t make it tonight. It’s my fault, I don’t know my lines,” Middleditch admitted. “He doesn’t know his lines!” Nanjiani agreed.
In all seriousness, though, Nanjiani clearly felt bad about canceling last minute. He tweeted: “@ConanOBrien is my comedy hero. Him and @AndyRichter are the reason I started comedy. So this clip is something I would love if it was about anybody other than me. But it’s about me, so I’m truly mortified.”
O’Brien did end up getting a guest to replace Nanjiani, by the way: his assistant, Sona Movsesian. Watch her hilarious appearance below.
Conan airs Monday-Thursday at 11 p.m. ET on TBS.