Late Night with Conan O'Brien is an NBC talk show hosted by Conan O'Brien that aired on NBC from 1993 to 2009. The second incarnation of NBC's Late Night franchise, O'Brien's debuted in 1993 after previous host David Letterman moved to CBS to host the Late Show. The show featured varied comedic material, celebrity interviews, and musical and stand-up comedy performances.
From 1993 until 2000, Andy Richter served as O'Brien's sidekick. The show's house musical act was The Max Weinberg 7, led by E Street Band drummer Max Weinberg. In 1997 the show launched the career of Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog, a popular recurring character of Late Night performed by then-head writer Robert Smigel.
During O'Brien's tenure with Late Night, the dressing room featuring the closet with the Muppet Pipes belonged to Max Weinberg. When Jimmy Fallon took over the show, the dressing room was demolished and the pipes were put behind glass and added to the NBC studio tour.
- Kermit the Frog made a guest appearance on the show in its second season, appearing on September 24, 1994 to promote the releases of Muppet Classic Theater and Kermit Unpigged. Other guests that night included Kevin Nealon and Leonard Maltin. The appearance was coincidentally the same day as the birthdays of both of Kermit's performers, Jim Henson and Steve Whitmire.
- O'Brien appeared on Sesame Street in a sketch entitled Late Night On Sesame Street. A spoof of his late night talk show, the sketch featured O'Brien interviewing monsters (including Herry Monster and Telly Monster) from a talk show set in the arbor.
- In Elmopalooza, Big Bird passes through the set of Late Night with Conan O'Brien where O'Brien, along with Richter, are shown interviewing the Martians.
Like many late night talk shows, Late Night has done its share of Muppet related jokes and gags. One well-known recurring gag on the program, originating as a potential college mascot, was "Vomiting Kermit" (a Kermit doll that spewed fake vomit from its mouth).
On the September 14, 2004 show, Conan previewed some fake upcoming postage stamps including a series called "Muppet Mug Shots".
Muppets have been cast in fictional made-for-TV movies, of which Conan shows the cast lists. Here are a few of the choices that were made:
- Sam the Eagle as Michael Chertoff, Secretary of Homeland Security (September 2005); the same casting was used again in a separate episode (May 14, 2008)
- Guy Smiley as Brian Williams (March 6, 2006)
- Beaker as Cris Collinsworth (September 18, 2006)
- Statler as Sen. Patrick Leahy (March 19, 2007) and Robert Novak (August 2, 2007)
- Count von Count as Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak (June 6, 2007)
- Scooter as Jerry Springer (November 2, 2007)
- Dr. Bunsen Honeydew as Harry Smith (April 8, 2008)
- Gonzo as former Senator Sam Nunn (June 9, 2008)
- The Swedish Chef as gymnastics commentator Bela Karolyi (August 25, 2008)
O'Brien jested in the monologue of his March 11, 2006 show stating, "The producers of Sesame Street say they have decided not to ask Russell Crowe to appear on the show because they don't think he's a good role model. Crowe is upset because he really wanted to host the episode sponsored by the letters 'F' and 'U.'"
Another Muppet related joke was made in O'Brien's regular "In the Year 2000" segement, where he and a guest give cryptic news from the future, here are a few Muppet related gags:
- "After 23 years, Miss Piggy will finally end her relationship with Kermit the Frog after he converts to Judaism and can no longer eat pork."
- "The serenity of 'Sesame Street' will be shattered when Silent 'E' finally snaps and guns down the other letters."
- "'Sesame Street's' Bert and Ernie will continue to deny that they have a romantic relationship; but will admit that one night after one too many beers they did bump felt a little."
On September 14, 2006, upon the show's 13th anniversary (and bar mitzvah) Conan vowed that there would be no more low-brow jokes, such as "Vomiting Kermit", instead he introduced the new character "Morally Outraged Kermit".
In an "Actual Items" segment from a November 2007 episode, Conan shows an advertisement for Sesame Place, with photos of Oscar the Grouch, the Cookie Monster walkaround, and an illustration of Ernie choking Bert to death.
The show made a parody of the Faces of Death videos with a "Muppets Faces of Death" spoof.
Quentin Tarantino made an appearance on the show just prior to the initial airing of The Muppets' Wizard of Oz to promote various projects -- a majority of the interview was spent talking about his experience with the Muppets and his love for the characters.