To celebrate the 20th anniversary of his first hosting a talk show, the seemingly ageless Conan O’Brien invited old friend and original Late Night writer Louis CK for some reminiscing about the bumpy, terrifying, and now retro-glorious early days.
With Emmys on their shelves and big, safe contracts on which they could count, the duo were able to laugh about the heady times on NBC, the network that both gave them a chance and then constantly threatened them with cancellation. On the set of TBS’ Conan, which is the third show hosted by the towering goofball, O’Brien and CK enjoyed discussing failed jokes and audience hostility, bringing up bombs like a fake ad for coins so old “you could buy slaves with them,” which Louis bullied Conan into including in one of those early, Tonight Show-spoofing segments.
O’Brien presented a photo of his original Late Night writing staff, which now looks like a legendary bench of future talent. Along with Conan and Louis, it included Breaking Bad and Mr. Show’s Bob Odenkirk, trusty sidekick and sitcom veteran Andy Richter, SNL genius Robert Smigel, ubiquitous writer Dino Stamatopoulos (you may best know him as Starburns from Community), and several other heavy hitters.
CK was the only guest on the show Thursday, which led to several other segments, including stories about failing with Gwyneth Paltrow and his acting tips (“I know how to do it now”).