The following is a list of sketches
performed on the late night program Late Night with Conan O'Brien
A parody of Jay Leno's Headlines segment on The Tonight Show in which Leno finds humorous mistakes in various newspapers. Conan's bit takes regular newspaper ads and stories and adds blatantly fake text; for example, an ad depicting a leather living room couch was modified to include a cartoon cow exclaiming, "How's my ass feel, you son of a bitch?", or an ad for a new home, labeling one of the rooms as "The Room You Will Die In." Adding to the humor, Conan repeatedly insists that his ads are real, commenting "you can't make this stuff up, why would you, that would waste everybody's time." This sketch appeared on the show's very first episode in September of 1993.
Conan and Max converse about a current event or person, with Conan asking leading questions to which Max replies incorrectly, but in great detail in an attempt to appear knowledgeable. Usually, this is initiated when Conan introduces a person who is famous for some accomplishment but not necessarily widely recognizable. Max will claim to recognize the person and perhaps claim to be a long-time friend or acquaintance of the individual. Conan then catches Max in the lie, stating "I made it up just to make a fool out of you!". Max replies "Well, I guess I know what's coming...", Conan says "You sure do," and a large red stamp (like a typical rubber stamp imprint) of the word "ASS" appears on the screen over a dejected Max, along with a dramatic voiceover of the word. Occasionally, the roles will be reversed, and Conan will be "stamped".
Other stamps are often used to abruptly punctuate various one-off sketches, including words such as "Alone," "Liar," and "Sad," but these sketches bear no particular resemblance to the standard recurring "Ass Stamp" sketch.
The Audiencey Awards
Conan awards members of the studio audience for various talents. Typically this will always include "best celebrity impression" to highlight lookalikes (as in movie casting), and then a variety of other awards which are achieved with props and superimposed images. For example, the winner of "Best Foreign Language Audience Member" was shown with a large superimposed moustache and sombrero, and the "Audience Member Who Smells the Most Like Fresh Salmon" was attacked by a man in a bear costume. Awards show intermission segments (red carpet, how the award is built, etc.) are also parodied.
Brian McCann on the Spot
During the monologue or opening segment, Conan mentions a big news item and says Brian McCann is on the scene and cuts to him via a remote feed, similar to the Daily Show in that McCann is standing in front of an obvious greenscreen backdrop. McCann then gives an increasingly absurd report that involves a variety of gags, such as the backdrop turning into a slideshow of various landmarks as McCann attempts to convince Conan he's taking a tour, or McCann wearing a pants suit and blond wig in a report about Hillary Clinton. McCann becomes increasingly annoying as the report continues, frustrating Conan, who wanders off his part of the screen and quickly shows up in McCann's screen and knocks him out with a breakaway chair. The camera angle shifts to show the green screen was right next to where Conan was, and McCann pretending to be passed out. Conan then begins to make fun of his acting and wonder if he will lie there for the rest of the bit. Although he usually remains motionless, sometimes this prompts McCann to either smile or, in some cases, sheepishly stand up and leave as Conan continues to make fun of him.
Brian has also done a remote feed of sporting events, such as NBA Finals and US Open, where he had Kevin Garnett, Doc Rivers, and Tiger Woods to interview, though they didn't appear on screen. But at the end, the interviewees come out, partially hiding themselves, but only to reveal that it is actually Pierre Bernard. Then Conan would knock Brian McCann with an object.
Features celebrities in a jail cell, smoking a cigarette and downing hard liquor, usually telling some humorous "secret" previously unknown about them. For example, one featured Michael Caine saying "I was convinced that the 'MC' in MC Hammer's name stood for Michael Caine. When I found out it didn't, I destroyed his career." Another featured Alex Trebek taking a drink, and admitting he had a "potent potables" problem. When Gwyneth Paltrow appeared on the sketch she admitted that anytime before she starts a new film she kills a hobo with a hammer, as well as admitting an affinity for porn. When John McCain ran for president in 2008, Conan began replaying his secrets segments, which included McCain plugging "The McCain-Feingold Singles Guide to Portland."
This is where Conan supposedly sent out surveys to celebrities and he reads off their replies. Usually the first two read off are normal and expected. Then the third is intended to be a gag answer and often relates to something unseemly which the celebrity is known for. For example, to the question: "I like to think of my viewers as people who..." Brian Williams wrote "want to be informed." Meredith Vieira wrote "want to be my friend." Tony Danza wrote "have broken both arms and can't change the channel;" Some involve a question which is answered by O.J. Simpson somehow with the word murder. To the question: "My favorite time of day is..." Evangeline Lilly wrote: "Dawn." Matt Lauer wrote "Twilight". O.J. Simpson wrote: "Murder O'Clock." One reply where Paris Hilton is the final respondent to a question has been used in every segment for at least the last four years, usually about her promiscuious dating habits.
Conan O'Brien Hates My Homeland
The premise of the skit began when Late Night received many angry letters from viewers in Ukraine after mocking that nation in another recurring skit, New Euros, where the joke was an image on a Ukrainian Euro Coin depicting a man in Eastern European dress with four arms, waving, with the caption on the coin saying "Over 17 years since the Chernobyl Accident". Unaware that his show was even airing in Ukraine, O'Brien reads fast-paced insults of each of the nations of the world in alphabetical order to determine where else the show is being aired without his knowledge. O'Brien insults 5 countries (with a bell ringing between each one) each time the bit airs. A sample insult: Georgia: Where Europe meets Asia and says "Hey, why don't we both dump our crap here?" Announcer Joel Godard then tells insulted viewers around the world a real address to send their angry letters.
An announcer on the Finnish entertainment channel SubTV, which airs the show a couple of days after it is aired in the USA, asked people to defend Finland before Conan got to insult it, and the viewers in Finland began sending mail before the bit had even gotten to the letter F. Conan responded by assuming the Finnish "just couldn't wait" to be insulted and officially insulted Finland in the segment. An overwhelming number of postcards were sent in that apparently "forced" Conan to give Finland a formal apology. Conan then went as far as to have the flag of Finland shown in the background during a speech and slandering the Finns' "hated" neighbor Sweden with a sign saying "Sweden Sucks!" printed over the flag of Sweden. It would seem that this chain of events led to elevated ratings in Finland and subsequently also sparked a special relationship with the viewers in Finland. This later led to Conan realizing that he bears a resemblance to two-term president Tarja Halonen, which eventually led to a short visit to Finland in mid-February 2006.
On August 9 2007, Zimbabwe was the last country to be featured, thus ending the sketch after three years.
Originally done with sidekick Andy, Conan now invites an audience member to ride his desk outside with him. He actually is in front of a green screen and he holds a steering wheel. The greenscreen displays scenes of the road and the outdoors. Usually they get into humorous situations on the road. For example, as they went through a rural area, animals "humped" or attempted to mate with him. Green-colored objects are also used to incorporate violence into the bit, such as by putting green circles onto their bodies to show that they've been shot. A recurring incident since the use of audience members involves driving down the stairs outside the 30 Rockefeller Plaza building (which would be a bumpy ride on a wheeled conveyance), then Conan pausing the bit to criticize his passenger's insufficient bouncing and rewinding the footage to the top of the stairs to re-try.
Fake celebrity interviews
This sketch relies heavily on the low-budget filming method Syncro-Vox. A TV screen is lowered down to the seat where the interviewed would actually sit. On the screen is a still image of a celebrity, with live video of the mouth of the back stage impersonator superimposed—because of this method, the fake interviews are also called the "Clutch Cargo routine," after the 1959 cartoon, that is the most widely remembered user of Syncro-Vox. Commonly impersonated celebrities are Arnold Schwarzenegger (who almost always mentions his 'smash hit holiday classic', Jingle All the Way, and makes lame comebacks such as "You're not even a movie!"), George W. Bush, Barbara Bush (who is given the gruff voice of a man from New Jersey), Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton and Martha Stewart (either of whom if, nagged by Conan about a point she wishes to dismiss, will begin talking in a demonically deeper voice as her eyes glow red), Michael Jackson, Sammy Sosa, Barry Bonds, Rafael Palmeiro, Donald Trump, Saddam Hussein, Tom Cruise (who often shouts triumphantly and raises his fists or feet, in reference to his infamous "Couch Jumping Incident" on Oprah), Mike Tyson, and Keith Richards. Most of the impressions are done by either Robert Smigel or Brian Stack.
This bit was parodied, along with the entire show, on Robot Chicken's Star Wars Special. Conan provided his own voice.
This sketch sometimes occurs when Conan announces future guests. After announcing the first guest, a member of the audience (played by writer Brian Stack) is seen saying that the guest is "Fantastic!" right to the camera with a thumbs up. After Conan announces the next guest, the member does almost the same thing, but ends by making up a word by combining a guest's name or work with the word "fantastic". For example: "Wow, Omar Epps? That charismatic scene-stealer is Epps-tastic!" or "Tell that group, "don't stop the 'tastic!") Then, Conan reminds viewers he'll also be doing his usual "hilarious monologue", the camera shows that the man prepares to do his bit, but changes his mind. Conan also mentions the show's "zany, off-the-wall comedy bits", and the man either already stopped paying attention and/or begun torturing himself. (examples: reading a disturbing or uninteresting book or newspaper article, drinking bleach or drilling his teeth). Conan then questions the man, asking if he just likes the guests but "thinks everything else we do is crap?" or some other negative word. The man will then finish with "not crap, craptastic!"
During the airing of the usual "New College Mascots" sketch, a character called the "FSU Webcam Manatee" was featured - a manatee in front of a computer, dancing to the Divinyls' "I Touch Myself", being watched remotely by trumpeter Mark Pender. Conan, in an ad-libbed statement, mentioned a then fictitious "HornyManatee.com". The next night, Conan told viewers that if he mentions a web site which doesn't exist, NBC may be held liable for the site's content and NBC is to then purchase the domain name. Conan said Late Night then made the web site, giving it the appearance of a fake porn site. With http://www.HornyManatee.com now operational, Conan asked viewers to submit pictures to the page. Since that night, Conan has periodically given viewers an "update" on the website's status, mentioning its hit count and several fan submitted images, poems, and other media pouring in. Conan also used the updates as lead ins for special, on-stage Horny Manatee segments. For example, Conan called on James Lipton to dramatically recite the fan-made poetry, then dance with the Manatee on air at his own request, and flew the Pittsburgh, PA-based pop-punk duo Rocket Me Nowhere to New York to perform their tribute song "My Hopeless Manatee".
The last time Conan stated site's hit count (Jan. 18, 2007), it was "20 million hits" and counting. In an interview with New York Times, O'Brien has also said that he was overwhelmed at the viewer response.
As of December 16, 2006, the site has achieved an Alexa website ranking of about 31,000,000,
over thirty times the rank for SaveTheManatee.org (about 937,000),
to which Late Night is donating some proceeds of its "Horny Manatee" T-shirts offered on the site.
If They Mated
Pictures of two famous celebrities, usually believed to be dating at the time, are shown. The pictures are then combined into a grotesque new picture of what their offspring would look like if they mated. The segment became so successful that it later spawned a book. The last item in the sketch often makes a joke using an unaltered photograph of a celebrity as the offspring: for example, if Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden ("two of the most hated people in the world") were to have a child, it would be Steve Bartman. Another notable example; the shape-shifting Optimus Prime and the faceless Lord Voldemort would create Michael Jackson.
In the Year 2000
The sketch is typically performed after a celebrity guest has been introduced, as the guest participates in the sketch, although during Andy Richter's tenure as Conan's sidekick, he would participate. Each guest version would usually be titled "The [Guest's surname] Edition" with "2.0" added for guests who've done the sketch more than once. In 2006, the naming format was changed to simply " The [guest's name] Edition". Its introduction is as follows:
Conan: "... It's time, once again, to look into the future."
Andy/Guest: "The future, Conan?"
Conan: "That's right, Andy/[Guest's name]. Let's look to the future, all the way to the year 2000!"
During an "In the Year 2000" sketch, O'Brien, Andy/Guest, as well as band member Richie "LaBamba" Rosenberg, each wears a black robe, futuristic-looking collar and hold a lit flashlight to their face. Between La Bamba's high falsetto wails of "In the year 2000...", O'Brien and Andy/Guest alternate delivering jokes, often based on current events, in the form of humorous predictions of what will happen in the year 2000. The sketch was invented prior to the actual year 2000, but the show's writers decided to keep the named year the same, in a sort of ironic twist. It is now intended to imply "in the near future". Quite commonly, the second-to-last prediction involves Conan mocking his guest, while the last prediction involves the guest mocking Conan in return. This sketch is very similar to one Conan performed with the Happy Happy Good Show in 1988.
A man in an off-beat magician's costume with a silly voice (played by Brian Stack) appears in the short hallway to the right of the set, and 'interrupts' Conan. Conan and The Interrupter have a conversation, where every line is started by Conan and finished by The Interrupter (until the very end, where the roles are reversed). The entire conversation focusses upon the Interrupter's seedy and highly unusual private life, involving such details as The Interrupter's parents trying to disown him or something of a sexual nature, such as sneaking into Home Depot after hours to smell bags of 'sexually arousing' peat moss.
Conan begins by talking about needing to relax and unwind by going to his favorite bar - Joe's. Theme music plays with an exterior shot of the bar. He walks inside and the bartender (Brian Stack
) and a patron (Brian McCann
) begin to berate, attack, and insult Conan in humorous ways, while Conan drinks hard liquor. The sketch always ends with the bartender, Joe, demanding Conan pay the money he owes. Conan stands up, screams, "I'll pay when I'm good and ready!", and hurls a bottle against the wall.
A fictitious new made-for-TV movie is announced, based on a real-life event Conan has mentioned. Conan then says he has the inside scoop on the movie's casting. Viewers are shown two photos side-by-side of a person or thing who will be portrayed in the movie and the person that will be playing the role. The casting first starts off with people who strikingly resemble the person they are playing but then goes off to extremes with, usually, objects or fictitious characters bearing some resemblance to the person they are playing. The humor is in how similar the two photos are despite how vastly different the two people/things pictured are or vice versa, with Conan often commenting on how great the casting is. Running gags include President George W. Bush being played by Ralph Wiggum or Patrick Star, Hillary Clinton being played by Chucky, Condoleezza Rice, being played by Snoop Dogg, Donald Rumsfeld being played by Skeletor, and Dick Cheney being played by The Penguin.
Conan tells the audience that it is time for new additions to be added to Late Night's current characters, such as "The Masturbating Bear" or the FedEx Pope (Brian McCann). New additions are often more ridiculous than ones before, such as the Nudist Who Has No Skeleton or the Screeching Raccoon with a Jet Pack. Some are popular enough to warrant a second appearance, though few are actually made into recurring characters. A related gag also exists where Conan promises that he will not waste the audience's time with zany, random jokes, only to introduce a completely zany, random character. Notable characters from this bit include Fidel Castro Rabbit DJ, Nation of Twain, Man protected from three-inch bees, Hippie fire hydrant on a skateboard, Cactus Chef Playing "We Didn't Start the Fire" on the Flute and the Oscillating Air Purifier that Looks Like Slash. Another version is "New College Mascots", which feature fake mascots which often make fun of a real college or its surrounding area. One such skit featured an "FSU Webcam Manatee" which spawned the "Horny Manatee" sketch of December, 2006.
Conan says he has "connections" which allow him to show "New" (fake) state quarters, Euros or commemorative stamps. The stamps are usually states based on people or current events. The state quarters insult the state they are based on, and the Euros insult the country they are based on. One such Euros skit led to the creation of another sketch, Conan O'Brien Hates My Homeland.
Pierre Bernard's Recliner of Rage
A comedy bit in which Late Night staffer Pierre Bernard, Jr. sits in a recliner and relates a story that has recently angered him personally. This tale is always a long, drawn-out personal tale delivered in a soft-spoken tone that usually involves some sort of comic-book, sci-fi-related, or similarly esoteric medium. At the end of his complaint he states "Bottom line, America..." as he grabs the handle of the recliner and shifts it back into an upright position to lean forward and point furiously at another camera centered on him to give his final geeky demands on the matter. This is inevitably the point at which the audience and Conan break into laughter because Pierre either has difficulty shifting the recliner or has trouble reading the final cue card when he looks at the other camera. Much of the humor of the sketch comes from the dry, emotionless manner in which Bernard delivers his "rage." A complaint about the TV show Stargate SG-1 led to him getting small cameos on the show.
Late Night has made extensive use of puppets since the show's inception. For example, in one sketch, a puppet scientist prepares to drink something from a cup and says "I sure do love my morning cup of coffee." The cup actually contains an acidic substance which melts the puppet's face. In another outrageous sketch, a puppet exclaims to another puppet that she was born with both sets of genitalia. One well-known gag features "Vomiting Kermit
," showcasing the Muppet retching streams of liquid from its mouth. Perhaps the most famous puppet, both on and off the show, is Triumph the Insult Comic Dog
Conan helps students with their standardized exams by providing satirized SAT analogies based on current events. Although the newest SAT format has dropped analogies, the segment continues to be used in new episodes. A typical example: person who sees a pregnant woman : "you're glowing" :: person who sees a pregnant Nicole Ritchie : "who stuffed an avocado in that cocktail straw?" The sketch often ends with an analogy involving Paris Hilton that falsely seems to be making a joke about her sexual history, for example: Final episode of "The Sopranos": lots of guys getting whacked resulting in messy loss of bodily fluids:: Paris Hilton: popular hotel heiress
This bit involves a white domesticated duck
that is put onto the studio floor. Usually once the audience and Conan have admired how cute the duck is, it is allowed to roam around and usually can be heard quacking while Conan is trying to present other comedy bits, even sounding like Quackers is speaking to Conan. Quackers first appeared on the Aug. 6 2007 show during a sketch in which Conan nervously reacted to various band members shouting at him, only to learn they were being literal. For example, one band member shouted, "Conan, Duck!" and Conan dove for cover behind his desk, only to learn the band member was pointing out a duck was in the studio. For the rest of the sketch, Conan became increasingly distracted by the duck, to which the camera kept cutting, and at the end of the sketch, Conan dubbed it Quackers. Two nights later, as a result of Quackers' unexpected popular debut and Conan's fondness of the duck's company, Quackers made a return appearance, during which the duck relieved himself on the studio floor and rubbed its own beak in it, prompting an exaggerated response from Conan. The Aug. 10 and Sept. 4 shows included a "special announcement" about a new show coming to NBC, the family sitcom "Quackers the Shit-Eating Duck." Quackers also displays an ability to mug to the audience for applause. On the September 19
episode, Conan notes Quackers' popularity amongst viewers again and also mentions Quackers' popularity on YouTube. The episode also contains a clip of Quackers as an action star.
The Walker Texas Ranger Lever
This sketch sprung from NBC's purchase of entertainment company Universal in early 2004, creating NBC Universal. Conan introduced the Walker, Texas Ranger Lever, which allowed him to play a video clip from the television show Walker, Texas Ranger at any time he wanted to, without paying any royalties, although the clips probably could have been used under the "fair use" doctrine regardless. The clips from the Chuck Norris series were sometimes taken out of context, other times not. A clip example could be something such as Norris karate-kicking through the windshield of a moving car, and Conan would comment on each clip's absurdity after it aired. In late summer 2004, the bit seemed to have been retired as Chuck Norris walked in and fired a prop gun at Conan. Norris also revealed his own lever and pulled it, playing a clip showing him "beating" Conan up with martial arts in the back of the studio. The lever did return on occasion in 2005. Notably, the premise of the bit was technically incorrect, since Walker was owned by CBS, Sony Pictures Television, and a few other companies; Walker just ran on NBC Universal-owned USA Network at the time. One of the last and most popular clips to be shown was one where a young Haley Joel Osment uttered the sentence (in apparent contentness), "Walker told me I have AIDS."
The merger also led to the creation of two other short-lived triggers, a Knight Rider pull chain, and a Beverly Hills Cop Theme button. Sometimes these were combined, such as playing the Beverly Hills Cop theme behind a Walker, Texas Ranger scene.
In 2007, the lever returned, playing clips from B-grade 1970s/1980s Norris movies (a different movie each episode). This began with the Slaughter in San Francisco Lever (which was used during the April/May run of shows in San Francisco); Breaker! Breaker!, A Force of One and The Octagon have also been used.
The lever also sparked its share of the Colbert/O'Brien/Stewart feud, once Norris started appearing with 2008 presidential candidate Mike Huckabee and Conan took credit for the outcomes.
Nerding It Up For Pierre
In this sketch, Conan tries to explain a popular news story to graphic designer Pierre Bernard (See "Pierre Bernard's Recliner of Rage" above) by relating current events to obscure events in various anime or science fiction shows that Pierre understands and enjoys, such as Battlestar Galactica.
Sketches on hiatus
- Assassination - Conan invites a guest who supposedly is privy to an upcoming, well-kept secret, who suffers a simulated death before he can reveal what he knows. For example, shortly before the final episode of Seinfeld, an actor appearing on the show began talking about what the final episode would be about; a few words in, an assassin shoots him in the chest. On another occasion, Conan introduced a man who claimed to be a high-ranking executive with Coca-Cola, who was going to discuss the soda's secret ingredients. As the interview started, the "executive" fell dead after getting hit by shuriken, and a group of ninjas with the Coca-Cola logo on their backs were shown running away from the stage. These sketches have not appeared on the show for several years.
- Awful Sports Chanter - In response to an upcoming sporting or other spectator event, Conan advises that you should keep chants short and easy to follow. As an example of what not to do, Andy Blitz is then shown in the show's audience, and begins a standard chant for that event while clapping each syllable (such as "Let's Go Mets!"). However, instead of repeating the line, he expands it into a very long chant that begins supportive and usually ends up as a narrative of some sort, occasionally asking the audience to chant along as if it's easy to follow. Conan interrupts the chant to go to commercial as Blitz continues to chant up to the break.
- Car Chases - Conan explains that television shows' ratings go up when they cut to a car chase in action. He tells the audience that Late Night will begin doing this, however there are no car chases in Manhattan due to traffic congestion. So Late Night stages their own "car chases". While played as if they are real car chases, they are executed using Matchbox style vehicles, and model buildings in the hallways of the show's backstage area. The toy cars are pulled by fishing line as a camera gets a shot appearing to be from a helicopter. More recently, car chases have been shot when celebrities have encountered legal difficulties, including Michael Jackson, Paris Hilton and O.J. Simpson.
- Conan O’Brien College Band Search - For a few years, Late Night held an annual college band search.
- Conan's Legs - Conan explains how the show is trying to reach out and collect more viewers by taking a page out of the Today Show handbook. He explains that many Americans tune in to the Today Show just to see Katie Couric's legs. The front of his desk is removed, revealing feminine legs. He continues by doing a few camera tricks such as, moving his legs, bouncing a ball, and even shaving them. In actuality, the front of the desk is covered by a greenscreen substituted by a shot of a woman's legs recorded live offstage. The audience is presumed to understand the special effect, leading O'Brien to attempt to sync more complex actions with those of the offstage actress, or sometimes to intentionally fool her. The sketch stopped some time before Couric eventually left Today.
- Frankenstein Wastes A Minute of Our Time - Frankenstein's monster (played by writer Brian Stack) appears by one of the doors leading from the main set, acting excited about something, and inviting the cameraman (and the audience, vicariously) to come with him to take a look. He makes a long trek around the backstage area, stopping along the way to wave the cameraman to keep following. Invariably, what he finds is extremely mundane like a spatula, although it is usually near something that is considerably more interesting, and Conan assumes that is the item Frankenstein led the camera to. Frankenstein once found Tom Hanks (who was not a guest on that night's episode) during the sketch, and pushed him out of the way to show off a light switch. (Hanks then immediately reentered the frame to join in pointing out the light switch with great enthusiasm.) The joke format is extremely similar to a shaggy dog story. Since NBC owns Universal, the Frankenstein monster looking like the one from the movies and sharing the same logo in the sketch title as Universal's monster is no coincidence; neither is the sketch also appearing shortly after the buy-out. While this sketch has seemingly been retired, Frankenstein continues to be a regular character.
- The Hole In The Floor - There is a hole in the floor in front of Conan's desk. Conan throws objects through it and generally hassles an office worker below. The hole is created using bluescreen technology.
- Inappropriate! - Although not seen in recent years, this sketch would usually have a straight man saying or doing something, only to have something inappropriate be said by another character, followed by Brian Stack dressed as a heavy metal singer playing a guitar riff and screaming "INAPPROPRIATE!". For example, a young boy telling his father he hit a home run at a little league game and his father showing him Playgirl magazine and saying, "Check this out!"
- Jerry Butters - Jerry Butters (played by Brian McCann) is a talentless talk show host with his own early-morning show down the hall. His set is bland and reminiscent of a 1970s talk show with fake palms and dull brown colors. Jerry will interrupt Conan's show in the style of a suburban neighbor who initially wants to just have a friendly chat, but eventually needs a favor or some advice for a particular problem he is facing in his current show. Such problems in the past have included Abe Vigoda dying midway through an interview (after Jerry had asked him which was a better experience, his part in The Godfather or the children's comedy Good Burger). He also invariably promotes his own show by addressing Conan's audience with the line "It's on at four in the morning... so check it out!".
- Krunk - During the first two seasons of the show, beginning in early 1994, O'Brien encouraged guests to insert the word krunk, a fictional expletive with multiple uses invented by the show's writers that "the censors don't quite know what to do with yet," into their conversations. On April 30, 2004, American Idol judge Randy Jackson used "krunked" during the show, but by then O'Brien had no idea what Jackson was talking about. Krunk is not the same as crunk, a slang term used by Lil' Jon and various other hip hop artists as a synonym for the condition one experiences when under the influence of both marijuana and alcohol.
- Mick Ferguson, The Guy Who's Awfully Proud of his Bullet Proof Legs - long-time staff writer Brian McCann, in a mock-Vaudeville dance, sings "Oh I got bulletproof legs, I got bullet proof legs, oh ya can't hurt me cuz I have bullet proof legs! Oh they cost me a fortune but ya don't...." Invariably, a shadowy figure pulls out a gun and shoots him in the chest, which apparently isn't bulletproof. In the second incarnation of it the same man is standing on the screen and Mick implores Conan to get rid of him because he shot him before. Conan has a security guy come out and check the figure over stating that he doesn't have a weapon. Relieved Mick begins his song and dance again, only to have the Security guy pull out a gun and shoot him in the chest. Another incident has the security guard and a search dog guarding Mick. After Conan calms Mick's fears of the security guard by vouching for him, the search dog pulls a gun and shoots Mick in the chest. The camera then switches to Conan, who looks into it and says, "We're gonna get to the bottom of this."
- The More You Know - These are spoofs of the famous NBC public service announcements. They were used frequently in earlier years, especially when Andy Richter was still Conan's sidekick. These sketches would begin seemingly innocently, but would quickly devolve into parody, usually involving dark themes. For example, in one such sketch, Max Weinberg commands: "Sometimes condoms break; deal with it, missy!"
- Staring Contest - A famous skit held while Andy Richter still served as O'Brien's sidekick. An homage to the game show Make Me Laugh, Richter (unlike O'Brien) would be subjected to a series of purely physical-comedy skits taking place behind O'Brien, usually insulting and disgusting, which would eventually force Richter to look away. On the last episode Richter served as sidekick, the show subjected O'Brien to the skits instead; this was the only time Richter ever won the staring contest. The two tied after one competition in which, as a distraction, Albert Einstein was inspired by a large-breasted woman in a bikini to add the "squared" to his theory of special relativity, and Andy and Conan joined them in a celebratory dance.
- Tomorry the Ostrich - During the break between the first and second guest, Tomorry the ostrich would come out to deliver the blue card with a list of tomorrow night's guests. Tomorry would lay an egg containing the card. Tomorry was a large ostrich with a long, solid neck that members of the audience often pulled on as Tomorry passed by.
- 60 - "60" had been a parody of the Fox series 24. "60" takes the premise of 24 to the extreme: each one second episode takes place in the same minute. The story revolved around Canadian Special Agent Chuck Aloo (Andy Blitz) attempting to protect the Prime Minister from a diabolical plot involving a sandwich with mustard in it.
- Andy's Sister - This sketch involved Amy Poehler appearing as Andy Richter's little sister Stacy, she usually wore a head brace device and made fun of Andy from the audience while expressing her crush on Conan.
- Audience interview - In this bit introduced in mid-2005, Conan says that because he's always interviewing famous celebrities, who endorse their latest movie/album/etc., he rarely gets an opportunity to talk to the audience, which he says he'd like to do. So, for a change of pace, he says he's going to go into the audience, pick out a random member, and ask them some basic question. However, the gag is that the audience member he "randomly" picks is always a celebrity, who faithfully reveals him/herself when Conan asks what their name is and who always sits on the first seat immediately right of the aisle of the back row in the far righthand section. They also happen to still endorse some product, or even a standard "latest work" as well. Some examples of guests include Ted Danson, Jerry Stiller, Alan Alda, Bob Saget, Jerry Springer, Donald Trump, Mr. T, Fabio, and Larry King.
- Audience talent - Conan goes into the audience and selects pre-picked audience members to show their unique talents, but the person's "talent" is obviously faked. Conan doesn't know who the people are going to be, and the audience doesn't know what their talent is until Conan reveals it. This was a very similar precursor to the the Audiencey Awards.
- Cloppy - A depressed and suicidal horse whose name is a reference to the "clop-clop" sound he makes as he slowly walks offstage to shoot himself. In one interview, actor Nicolas Cage expresses his fondness of Cloppy. Subsequent editions of "Cloppy" have included mentions to Cage's endorsement of the sketch.
- Conan and Max hang out - Conan introduces a moment of camaraderie between him and Max, then cuts to a scene of Conan in his dressing room. Max comes in and enthusiastically invites Conan to go somewhere, such as to lunch, to grab a beer, or to shop at the NBC store because it has great stuff. Conan happily agrees, but as soon as the two begin walking together they awkwardly don't speak to each other and look bored. The camera follows them like this down hallways and elevators until they reach their destination, at which point they quickly grab the food or drink and part ways. The destination may involve other sight gags; when Conan and Max visited the NBC store, Conan is seen shoplifting several items.
- Conan on the Aisle - Originally Conan and Andy: On The Aisle in the show's early days. In the skit Conan reviews movies released in cinemas around the time of the sketch's original airing. He usually comments on a negative quality which is either fictitious or exaggerated by an edited scene he then shows as proof. For example, when Conan was reviewing Jurassic Park III, he mentioned that the movie had scenes that were disgusting and weird. A scene then appeared where a couple ran and were surprised by a dinosaur which opened its mouth to roar. Late Night edited the couple's lost child into the dinosaur's mouth, and the child says "hello" to the parents. The sketch occasionally reviewed TV shows. For example, Conan poked fun at the then recently released Viva Laughlin claiming the producers missed some key signals of the show's poor quality. A clip of the show featuring one of its musical numbers appeared interspersed with footage of a "crew member" who, horrified at how terrible the show is, suddenly activates a TNT detonator and the scene switches to stock footage of an imploding building.
- Conan's Diary - After interviewing an attractive female celebrity, Conan occasionally opens his "Hello Kitty" diary and writes about the interview while the celebrity remains in the interview chair. The audience and celebrity can hear a voice over of what Conan is writing. Conan admires his own interviewing skills, then notes that he thinks the celebrity has a crush on him. The celebrity, feeling awkward, asks him to stop writing. Conan audibly notes that the celebrity is an "insane bitch," and finishes writing.
- Conan sings a lullaby - Conan explains that many viewers are new parents trying to get their baby to sleep and he will help them, so he begins to sing a nice lullaby with the aid of his acoustic guitar "Bessie Lou" (also the name of his desk, guest chair, and couch) and then takes advantage of a baby's lack of understanding of language and mentions things adults would find horrible in a soothing way. After a while, Conan figures that his main audience is getting bored, so after telling the parents to turn the baby away from the TV, he starts showing humorous and sometimes violent pieces of footage. With the baby now asleep, Conan tells the parents to go have sex.
- Crooner Ghost - Brian Stack portrays the ghost of an old singer "Artie Kendall", who sang when the Late Night studio was used for radio in the 30s. Conan is talking and hears a disembodied voice singing, and a ghost appears next to his desk. The ghost doubts that people from the present would want to hear his "silly old songs", but Conan and the audience convince him. He always sings 3 songs, set to the same tune, that have outrageous lyrics. The first song is about unpopular 1930s sentiment, (where he attacks Franklin Roosevelt, advocates surrender to Adolf Hitler, or expresses contempt for the poor), the second song is always about women ("Oh...Women shouldn't be allowed to talk; we should seal their lips with strong adhesive caulk") and after Conan's reaction to it, the ghost notes his "hot, Irish temper" and sings a derogatory song about the Irish. ("Irish people's brains are made of corn, and they all get drunk before they're even born.") He usually ends the songs with a relevant scat such as "boppity-drown" or "Hitlery-hoo."
- European Guy - Conan begins to discuss some political issue negatively affecting America, and is interrupted by Gustavo, a European who smugly and arrogantly points out Europe's superiority over America. He appears in strange clothing (particularly shoes) and frequently eats strange lollipops, all of which have stereotypically silly European-sounding names (Stolflucht, Flexenfüsser, etc.), which he defends as superior to their American equivalents, in spite of their peculiar appearances.
- The "Fun Hole" Guy - Conan gets interrupted by a man in the audience (played by Brian McCann) who wears a blue t-shirt with a sweater around his shoulders. He complains about lack of decency, takes the sweater off and storms off, revealing him wearing fishnet stockings, and a shirt that says "Fun Hole" on the back with an arrow pointing down to his speedo-clad buttocks.
- Good Priest, Bad Priest - Conan's Catholic church pastors, Father DeCarlo and Father Kelly, would come on the show and subject Conan to an interrogation related to some sort of upcoming religious celebration (Such as why he doesn't have a manger for Christmas). Most of the time, they start to abuse Conan by bringing up his "touching himself" nightly. Father DeCarlo acts as the "Good Priest," asking questions calmly, while Father Kelly, would act as the "Bad Priest," trying to intimidate Conan. Towards the end of the sketch, Jesus enters, resulting in Conan exclaiming "Jesus Christ!", and tells the priests to leave Conan alone, and recruiting them on a more important mission, usually abusing figures such as Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. The sketch ends with Jesus telling Conan and the crowd "You owe me one... you all owe me one!" In recent episodes Jesus has been joined by Mary (resulting in Conan yelling "Holy Mother of God") and Joseph (resulting in Conan yelling "Jesus, Mary, and Joesph"), then the skit ends with Jesus, Mary, and Joesph going to the Olive Garden and running into God then awkwardly having a conversation about God being Jesus' real father.
- Guest Autographs - Conan shows the audience some autographs supposedly from guests on his show. In reality, the fictitious autographs are often from celebrities who have appeared in news or tabloids rather than on the program. The messages left by the celebrity often mock something unseemly the celebrity is currently known for or may even mock O'Brien in some way.
- Holiday Pictures - Conan, Max, and announcer Joel Godard have recently had a party and Conan displays the ridiculous and fictional events of this party. Invariably, these events typically include heavy drinking and rather gory violence/homicide on the part of one or the entire cast. Towards the end of the skit they are always joined by a celebrity, played by an actor with a superimposed picture of the celebrity at hand. The celebrity usually ends up getting into a fight with Conan, Joel, or Max, or is seen in compromising positions and/or situations, always looking back at the camera with the exact same look, seeing as the superimposed picture never changes. Before his death, Carl "Oldie" Olsen, played by William Preston, was usually in the party instead of Joel Godard.
- Instant Audience Member Upgrade - a joke on the Airlines instant upgrade, Conan chooses two audience members and bumps them up to first class audience where he gives them more comfortable chairs, a drink, a celebrity feature, a curtain to separate them from the economy class section, etc.
- Late Night Sex Creep etc. - In response to a recent news story, usually about sexual misconduct, Conan speaks at length about his moral outrage, and his feeling of responsibility to remove this type of behavior from society; meanwhile, the camera occasionally makes brief cuts from Conan to Max. Finally, Conan urges the public to expose such people using the show's address which, together with the heading "Late Night Sex Creep" or the like, is superimposed over Max.
- Mike Merritt's Inner Thoughts - As Conan speaks on a recent news story dealing with race, the camera cuts to bassist Mike Merritt, as the audience hears his inner thoughts involving Conan's lack of knowledge on racial issues and his attempt on trying to be black. As well, he mentions the lack of black people in the studio, usually him and an audience member or crew member who is either hired for the show or has a fake tan. He would sign off by calling him "you pasty-faced pumpkin head," before Conan finishes his speech by saying, "...because we're all part of this beautiful mosaic that is mankind," while believing that the audience are applauding for him.
- Moral Dilemma - Not seen since Andy Richter's departure (although he was barely involved), the bit involved Conan looking through the show's Lost and Found box, and finding something he wished he could keep. At that point, a devil would appear on Conan's shoulder to help him rationalize keeping the item. While he would acknowledge the logic behind the devil's reasoning, he would muse, "I can't help but wonder if there's another side to the argument." At this point, instead of the expectant angel, a bear (an actor in a bear costume) would appear on Conan's other shoulder, announcing himself: "Hi, Conan, I'm your bear! Grrr!" Conan would ask the bear for his advice regarding the lost item, but the bear would only have bear-related advice to offer ("I don't know, but I can tell you that you should always check before sticking your nose into a beehive, for bears' noses are awfully sensitive to bee stings."). Usually the bit would end with the devil getting one-upped in some way or another (in one such sketch the bear turned out to be Conan's angel in disguise).
- No Reason to Live Guy - Conan begins to talk about a mundane news piece or the guest line-up at his desk when he is interrupted by a man in the audience (played by Brian McCann). The man seems to have been misinformed and reacts to Conan's calm correctness in disbelief and yells, "There's no reason to live!" He then proceeds to run to the top of the audience area where a blue kayak is waiting, while yelling, "Where's my kayak?" He gets in the kayak and "paddles" it off-screen, at which point the scene cuts to a shot of a man in a kayak falling down an icy mountain. After this, another "audience member" usually rides off in a kayak in a similar way, or the first man comes back through the studio doors (sometimes in poor disguises), gets upset again (usually when Conan mentions how stupid the sketch is) and rides to his demise using another means of transportation, accompanied with related stock footage, again whilst yelling "Where's my [vehicle]?" The sketch usually involves three different "deaths." In addition to the kayak, other means of transportation have included a train, a bike, a skateboard, balloons, a three bedroom house, and a car.
- This sketch evolved from a bit done a week or two before NBC broadcast the Torino Olympics where Brian McCann appeared on video as if he was reporting from the Bobsled run in Italy. He starts sliding down the course and Conan tries to tell him the course wasn't finished, based on news reports of the time that said Olympic officials were crunched for time to finish some of the venues. McCann says he can't hear because of the noise of the bobsled then he says, "What's that?" and there is a quick cut to stock footage of a kayak falling down a snow covered mountain. Then the show cuts back to Conan who has his head in his hands as if embarrassed and the audience is howling in laughter at the absurd scene, especially after McCann's line: "Someone put me in a kayak!". When the next guest comments about the kayak, Conan says, "You try to find footage of a bobsled crashing that matches. It was the best we could do." For the record, the Olympic officials were putting finishing touches on the venues with only the nightly ceremonies park unfinished.
- Noches de Pasion con Señor O'Brien (Nights of Passion with Mr. O'Brien) - a Spanglish soap-opera/action piece, which Conan announces that they have made specifically for the NBC-owned Telemundo Spanish network. Conan (or Conando) is the hero of the piece, fighting mild villains to save the damsel in distress in most episodes. Each episode features a dramatic entrance, to which the villains wildly exclaim "¡Conando!", and to which Conan even more wildly replies "¡Si! ¡Conando!". Makes extensive use of stock footage (usually a villain flying out of a window).
- Patterns - Conan shows a series of images and viewers have to figure out the progressive pattern that links them. For instance, "Squirrel, handy man, poorly guarded insane asylum, Tom Green: That's right, these are more and more likely to be missing a nut."
- Pender Sings - trumpeter Mark Pender is invited by Conan to sing a song about a current event. Pender begins normally, but upon reaching the refrain, he loses control, climbing over the railing into the audience, eventually writhing around on the floor wailing "baby" over and over again until Conan finally stops him. The rhythm of the song is typically the same, with different lyrics each time.
- Pimpbot 5000 - A robot that combines the technology of a futuristic android with the street-wise attitude of a 1970's pimp. He always talks in rhymes that simultaneously reference his robotic and pimp nature: "I got a diamond studded watch/new transistors in my crotch."
- Pleasing the Affiliates - Conan attempts to please local affiliates by responding to their fictional requests for positive mention.
- Preparation H Raymond - In this sketch Brian McCann plays a large-eared man named Raymond with a Prince Charles-like appearance, who parades down the aisles passing out Preparation H to Conan's audience. While he possesses a common theme song, chorused by the phrase "Raymond's here to help....oooooooohhh...", Raymond's dialogue content is often related to current events such as the "roid" usage by pro baseball athletes or Thanksgiving, 2006. Often though, the sketch can be seen as a random assortment of ideas, all beginning and culminating with the distribution of Preparation H.
- Queen Elizabeth Telephone Call - Conan receives a phone call from Queen Elizabeth II to discuss a current issue. Her Majesty quickly gets off topic, and ends every comment by referring to Conan using random bisyllabic words, such as Coughdrop O'Branflakes.
- Rude Audience Member - While Conan is attempting to introduce the second guest, the camera repeatedly cuts to one audience member, with each successive cut introducing attention-grabbing sound and visual effects. Conan becomes increasingly agitated, chastising the person as if he/she is purposely making it happen. After he threatens to call security, the camera stays on him and it seems like the distraction is over. Finally, the audience member is shown in a much more exaggerated way (for example, on a giant screen behind Conan, or on the Times Square jumbotron) that completely disrupts the show.
- Satellite TV - Conan shares the extra channels that the large satellite dish on the roof of 30 Rockefeller Center fictionally picks up. Some channels are named things like "Clive Clemmons Inappropriate Response Channel" (this particular channel displayed clips of people making inappropriate and/or completely off-topic statements in everyday conversation, after which fictional British heavy metal guitarist Clive Clemmons plays a riff and says "Inappropriate!". One example had a woman mention the quality of the office coffee to which her co-worker responded "Thank God for Saddam Hussein!" ). Others include a pornography channel featuring "Max on Max" action, in which Max Weinberg made love to a duplicate Max Weinberg; the "Sexual Harassment Skeleton Channel", where a skeleton gropes women in the workplace, but always escapes getting fired with the argument that he is "only a skeleton" and "doesn't even have muscles to move his arms"; "Jar Barf", a program where food jars with the middle of their tops cut out and featuring added googly eyes are shown vomiting out their contents; the "Potato Judge TV", about a ruthless judge on the judicial bench; and the "Men Without Hats Channel" that featured people in everyday situations singing about it to the Men Without Hats tune "Safety Dance" (One involved a man in an office singing "You can file if you want to/You can leave your friends behind/Because your friends don't file/And if they don't file then they're no friends of mine.")
- Small Talk Moment - Conan and Max make small talk about something, for instance reality television or college basketball. The result is usually that both Max and Conan end up talking a lot about a single event speaking in rapid succession, going into extreme detail or citing obscure people and events. Once they are done, Max stops and says. "Wow Conan, talking about (this subject) sure is interesting," to which Conan enthusiastically responds, "It sure is, Max!". They then stare at one another in dull fashion as the camera cuts back and forth between them.
- Spoiler Alert - Conan and Max would talk about a recent film, TV, or book-related story, such as the series finale of The Sopranos or the seventh Harry Potter book, but would find a way to prevent from spoiling the ending, in case the show is Tivoed or haven't read the book. So, Conan would turn on a spoiler alert system on him and Max, which are two people staring in front of the camera, covering their ears and yelling many things such as "la la la la la! I'm not listening!", while being unable to listen to what they are saying.
- Traveling Salesman - A traveling salesman who stops by to sell Conan a variety of useless items. He talks in a fast-paced 1920s New York accent, and frequently makes self-deprecating cracks as he describes his wares. He always tries to sell Conan lame jokes from "Joke Co." and immediately expects payment.
- Unknown Colleges Team Mascots - Conan presents about three or four fictional college's athletic teams mascots. These mascots often have nothing to do with anything about the school's location or name. One mascot that always finds its way on the segment is S&M Lincoln, a very creepy and disturbing version of Abraham Lincoln wearing a top hat and having an apple stuffed in his mouth, while being dressed in little more than leather S&M gear and being weighed down by heavy chains, while whipping himself with a cat o' nine tails.
- What in the World? - Conan is shown an extremely magnified portion of a picture. He throws out a wild guess as to what he is looking at, at which point the picture zooms out. Then Conan tries again, although it's not yet evident what the picture is of. It zooms out again, and the picture is now recognizable and seemingly mundane, for instance a celebrity or other normal situation. The final time it zooms out, something unexpected or outrageous that had previously been out of frame is revealed. The opening audio cue for this bit is an annoying sounding man saying, "What in the world?" which Conan often asks not to have repeated, to no avail.
- The State of the Show Address - An elaborate parody of the President of the United States' annual State of the Union Address delivered in place of the show's opening credits and monologue on the same night the President gives his speech. When Conan mentions that there will be no monologue that night, the audience will stand and burst into hearty applause, after which Conan replies, "You bastards." In reality, the audience is likely instructed to stand and give the hearty applause.
- Central Time Zone New Year's Countdown - Aired each New Year's Eve, Late Night is the only show to do a countdown to midnight for the Central Time Zone of the USA, since the show's regular time slot begins before and ends after midnight, Central time. After the monologue, Conan does a fictional list of people who have died that year, starting with a celebrity who has faded into obscurity who many believe has died and continuing with many outlandish and random celebrities who are obviously alive. Each year the Late Night staff creates a skit when the New Year starts. In 2003, the skit was announcer Joel Godard lying down on a table while an Asian man wearing a Speedo lands on top of him at the stroke of midnight. In 2005, giant papier-mâché busts of Chicagoans Jim Belushi and Oprah Winfrey inched slowly towards each other and "French Kissed" at the stroke of midnight. Earlier remotes had Conan go out to various remote locations in the central time zone to celebrate the new year there. One sketch already had the remote person celebrating the new year in South Bend, Indiana, but had to move to Gary, Indiana in a race against time in order to "correctly" celebrate the new year. The 2004 and 2005 celebrations also had O'Brien joined by a group of costumed revellers representing various Midwestern locales including:
- * Abraham Lincoln (Springfield, Illinois)
- * A Green Bay Packers "cheesehead" fan
- * Dorothy from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (Kansas)
- * Prince (Minneapolis)
- * A gaucho from Belize!
The Countdown has not been done since 2005 because both 2006 and 2007 were on a weekend, and 2008 due to a writer's strike.
- Sweeps Ahoy - Airing during or just after each "sweeps month", this sketch airs skits and doctored footage of previous Late Night publicity stunts the show did to increase their ratings.
- World's Fastest Menorah and Other Holiday Icons - Usually shown for a period of 3-4 days after the annual lighting of the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree, Conan always mentions that so many people come to New York just to see the tree, usually adding things like, "It's just a tree! Big deal!" He then says something like, "Rockefeller Center might have their Christmas Tree, but we here at Late Night have the World's Fastest Menorah!" This summons the menorah, which sits on a platform pulled by a string by a stagehand, flying by the camera lever. Of course, the platform is not visible in the camera's field of vision. The menorah is accompanied by a quick excerpt of "Hava Nagila". As the week progresses, Conan introduces other holiday icons, which include a bungee-jumping Baby Jesus (with "Hallelujah"), a rocket-powered fruitcake (accompanied by ZZ Top's "La Grange"), and a Kwanzaa kinara in a pimped out ride.
- A Look Back - Sometime around New Year's, a look back at the past year on the show. Conan and Max sit at a mini-bar up on stage with party decorations and their ties hanging loose, and recall all of their adventures.
- An alternate version is presented in the form of a newsreel, with Joel Godard narrating events of the year over real footage, intercut with relevant Fake celebrity interviews from the year.
- Awkward Throws to Max Weinberg - Conan usually begins his monologue by saying "We've got a good show tonight, isn't that right Max?" to which Max replies in an intentionally nonchalant tone, "Yeah," then usually shrugs. One such awkward throw started with Max saying, "Mmm-hmmmm" in a satisfied matter, prompting Conan to blurt out, "I didn't ask, 'How's the rice, Uncle Ben?'!"
- "Donald Trump Impression" - Conan's impression of Donald Trump has him tugging on his hair, sucking his cheeks in, using Trump's catchphrase, "You're fired!" and performing Trump's python hand move as the Max Weinberg Seven plays the intro to "For the Love of Money" by the O'Jays. This bit is usually performed any time that Trump is mentioned, whether in the monologue or in interviews or comedy sketches. Conan has performed this bit with Donald Trump himself present in the studio on more than one occasion.
- Eating a Tear - Conan sometimes will say something that will cause him to shed, and then eat, a tear. This is pantomimed by running a finger from his eye down his cheek to his mouth.
- "I'm-a Gonna Go to Hell When I Die" - a rousing gospel-styled song, started on November 12, 2004, that has no lyrics other than its title and is always accompanied by a rhythmic clapping beat. The audience will usually start clapping along, causing Conan to exclaim, "Don't clap along to that, that's terrible!" Occasionally, Conan has recycled the tune with a new title/lyric, notably "I Had an Unhappy Childhood and You Have to Pay." This is often sung by Conan after the audience finds one of his jokes distasteful, mostly referring to Star Jones. Another variation, sung in a different tune, is "I'll Be Beaten to Death When I Leave Tonight."
- Inappropriate Closeups of Conan's Hair - Conan leaves the screen, crouches down just enough and walks past the camera so that only his red pompadour is visible.
- International Signal for Larry King - Conan pretends to pull suspenders away from his body, then makes spectacles with his thumbs and forefingers. He then explains that this is the international signal for Larry King, comparing it to the equivalent for choking.
- "Keep cool, my babies!" - Often spoken immediately before his monologue as a response to thunderous applause, Conan will utter this phrase in order to calm his excited audience. "Keep cool, my babies!" is usually accompanied by "The String Dance."
- "The Late Night Cat" - Conan jumps out of the frame and disappears (with a whooshing sound, as in Miscellaneous Pantomiming below) for a few seconds before reappearing extremely close to the camera, out of focus, and hissing at it in a feline manner (complete with "claws" extended). This usually occurs when the studio audience dislikes a joke told in the monologue.
- Licking his Fingers and Smoothing his Eyebrows - Conan quickly licks both fingers and smooths his eyebrows.
- Making Fun of Awkward Screams by Audience - If an audience member (male or female) screams something at Conan, he makes a joke such as, "I love you too, sir" or "It's nice of my dad for coming."
- Making fun of La Bamba - Conan refers to band member Richie "La Bamba" Rosenberg when there is a homosexual or otherwise unsavory reference in the monologue. La Bamba usually reacts by staring back at Conan with a bemused look on his face and/or shaking his head.
- Miscellaneous Pantomiming - Conan will duck in and out of frame, while making a whooshing sound.
- "Making Fun of Products" - Conan will mock a certain product or brand. He then asks the producer if said brand is a sponsor. The producer answers "yes" before Conan lets off an uncomfortable laugh.
- "Nerd Impression" - Whenever nerds are mentioned in Conan's monologue (such in the context of "Star Wars/The Lord of the Rings nerds"), he alters his voice to sound like a "nerd" criticizing Conan for that joke. This usually involves pushing his "glasses" to his face, wagging his finger, having his teeth hang out of his mouth, waving an invisible lightsaber, or using sci-fi related quotes, or saying something like, "How dare you," or, "I'll get you Conan O'Brien!", and pushing the buttons on an invisible calculator.
- "The String Dance" - Conan mimes attaching strings to his hips and pulls them, shaking his hips back and forth until he "cuts" one of the strings, dropping the attached hip. The string dance is customarily performed before or during the monologue, but Conan has also performed the dance at the request of guests. Jim Carrey also chose to perform his own version of the string dance on his appearance in December 2005. Ice-T, The Rock, Paula Abdul, Usher, Matt Bluhm, John Tesh, and Christina Applegate have also performed the dance.
- Unusual Audience Reactions - Conan is always amused by, and makes fun of, the unusual reactions of his audience to some of his monologue jokes. The most common reaction is a horrified/angry "booing" melding into "polite laughter and applause," in Conan's words. Another audience reaction is a delayed laughter to the punchline, sometimes sparking Conan's "Delayed reaction always creeps me out" song, in the style of "I'm-a Gonna Go To Hell When I Die."
- Anna Nicole Smith Impression - Conan imitates her nonsensical mutterings, drug-influenced wandering, and outbursts. He will wander back and forth in front of the camera, muttering and finally jumps out with the "cat hiss", also seen in the Late Night Cat digression. Not seen since her death.
- Geraldo Rivera Impression - Whenever there's a news story or any reference to news personality Geraldo Rivera, Conan places his index finger across his upper lip where a mustache would grow.
- Tom Selleck Impression - Similar to the Geraldo Rivera impression except Conan places two fingers across his upper lip to convey a thicker mustache.
- Arnold Schwarzenegger Impression - When a topic comes up referring to the actor, Conan will put on an Arnold Schwarzenegger accent, speak in a pseudo-Germanic language, pretend to eat a giant sausage (Conan claims he "likes his Arnold to be eating a sausage at the end") while flexing his muscles and giving a "death-stare" to the audience.
- George W. Bush Impression - Whenever there's a news story or any reference to President George W. Bush, Conan will look away from the camera, as if distracted by a bird, then look straight back at the camera with a confused look on his face, exclaiming "Huh?".
- Congress/Parliament applause - If one of his jokes gets lukewarm applause, Conan will liken it to members of Congress or Parliament clapping along. He'll also say "Yes, very good, O'Brien" (or something to that effect) while using a somewhat aristocratic tone.
- U.S.A. Chant - Most usually done when he has redeemed an obviously bad joke with a good one, Conan celebrates by beginning a chant of "U.S.A! U.S.A!" As soon as the audience joins in, Conan immediately stops and stares at them.
- Rhetorical Set-Up Questions - Conan frequently introduces a monologue joke by asking a rhetorical question about whether or not the audience has heard of a certain event; he then gives them no time to respond, and criticises them for being uninformed.
- Producer Impression - Often, when Conan says something especially odd or stupid, he will say that the producer is looking at him and then imitates the producer with a serious tone and expression, then poking fun at his impression's similarity to Jackie Mason.
- The microphone - Conan will sometimes knock the microphone on his desk over for a cheap laugh. Once in a while, he'll knock it over and then jokingly threaten the audience, such as "I'll clear this studio if I have to," and "...fill it with a minty foam." He also states on occasion that the microphone is made of chocolate and its name is "Bessie Lou." Occasionally he will take his clip-on microphone and stick it up his nose "just because the producer hates it".
- The Conan/Max staredown - Similar to the Small Talk moment, but without any dialogue, Conan and Max will stare at each other blankly for a long time with the cameras switching between Conan and Max. Eventually, Conan seems to get creeped out and looks away. He then says that someone should discover a way to "bottle that chemistry".
- Conan Cost Cutting - This is apparently an unintentional sketch; after a sketch involving Tim Harrod in a "Grub Man" costume, the show began to re-use the costume as a "surrendering croissant", a "victorious cannoli", a "liposuctioned Jabba the Hutt, a "pissed off kreplach" and a "beach rock". At the end of any sketch involving the costume, Conan mentions how many different ways the costume has been used and a "per costume total", which is the cost of the original costume divided by the number of uses. He'll then invite viewers to mail in their suggestions for a further use for the costume and, in return, will receive an "I'm a Conan Cost Cutter" button.
- * The address to send in your own suggestion for use of the Grub-Man costume is:
- Grub-Man Costume Ideas c/o Late Night
- 30 Rockefeller Plaza
- New York, N.Y. 10112
- A variation of this was originally used when the show acquired an expensive whale costume for a single sketch, and then devoted an entire "Whale Week" to Whale-related sketches, apparently to get their money's worth on the costume. The whale costume in question has been used with decreasing frequency since then.
- Mike Koman - Koman, as one of the writers for Late Night, often plays a sketch character. Whenever he does, Conan is guaranteed to bother with him in some way, such as when he was the "M.I.T. Nerd" or "Donald Trump's Brother. In a recent sketch, Koman was also ousted for calling in sick when he wasn't on-air.
- The Evil Puppy - This sketch shows a small dog, often a golden retriever sitting on a throne of skulls, flanked by black-robed druids, under a red light while O Fortuna plays in the background. Often, as the camera shows close-ups of the puppy squirming around on the chair, the audience will "awwww" in its cuteness, as Conan warns that the puppy is going to "conquer the world" or "suck your liver through your eye sockets." Usually appears on Friday the 13th. Sometimes, the Evil Puppy's powers are displayed causing pain and humiliation through supernatural means.
- Jeff Won't Talk - Conan pokes fun at the show producer, Jeff, who is only ever seen shaking his head on camera and gesturing for Conan to move it along.
- Faulty GE In-house Voice Directory System - Conan reveals the company's Voice-operated Directory's Voice recognition system, powered by General Electric, "doesn't work". Here, Conan would request a name of a person he wants to be directed to, however the system brings up only a similar sounding name or a totally different unsimilar sounding name, right after a long pause. He also used song verses and random sentences for hilarious results.
- The Gentler Side of Grand Theft Auto IV - Since the release of the highly anticipated video game Grand Theft Auto IV, Conan presented in-game footage of the game without any acts of violence and sexuality. Typically, the player-controlled protagonist Niko Bellic would say random things about himself and the society in a friendly, humorous way as opposed to the game's actual graphic nature.
- Late Night Sausage Party - On nights when all of the guests are male, Conan complains about the new movie The Women and how there are no men in the movie (not even background actors). He counters this by having all male guests and a gravelly voiced announcer begins the "sausage party" by announcing the guests and making crass and inappropriate mentions towards their sausage
During the writers' strike
While WGA was on strike, the show was unable to use any of its regular sketches or characters. As such, a small series of new sketches was devised to keep viewers entertained, or to just kill time.
- Ring Spin - As he has done for years during rehearsals, Conan began spinning his wedding ring on his desk, attempting to break his record of 41 seconds. The closest he came to was 40 seconds until the February 8, 2008 broadcast when, with the help of MIT professor Dr. Peter Fisher, he spun the ring for 51 seconds on a piece of teflon. On June 8, 2008, the sketch appeared again, this time with Conan accepting a challenge from guest Ted Koppel. Koppel won the challenge by a mere 3 seconds, with a total of 30 seconds against Conan's 27.
- German Disco Light Show - By pressing a button Conan starts a light show similar to one seen at a "bad German disco." This has been done several times using various music.
- Guest Maze Entrance- to increase the length of time taken for celebrities to reach the desk, a short maze is erected between the entry point and the desk. An overhead camera shows the celebrities' progression through the maze.
- Who Made Huckabee? - Conan had a recurring mock feud with Comedy Central hosts Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart regarding who was responsible for the success of presidential candidate Mike Huckabee. Conan noted that the popularity of Huckabee's high-profile supporter Chuck Norris was the result of his own Walker Texas Ranger Lever sketch, therefore "Conan made Huckabee." Colbert, on his show, then claimed that "Colbert made Huckabee" after giving him the "Colbert Bump." Following a series of cross-show statements, Conan, Colbert and Stewart each put forward increasingly farcical reasons why he was responsible for Huckabee's success, insulting their rivals in the process. Eventually, a large (and silly) fight scene amongst the three was staged on Late Night. Huckabee himself appeared afterwards to state that none of "these three idiots" created him, but in fact the "great nation of the United States had created him".
- Zipline - On January 14 2008, Conan lived out one of his "dreams" by riding a zipline over his audience while wearing a helmet which shoots smoke out the back. Conan then asked viewers to send in suggestions on how to improve this stunt via http://www.latenightunderground.com. Two days later Conan repeated the zipline this time with rockets strapped to his feet and crashing into large bowling pins. Another variation of this sketch is when he went down the zip line and knocked down John Wilkes Booth as he was about to assassinate Abraham Lincoln.
- Crew Interview - He also filled in some of his episodes by interviewing the behind-the-scenes crew members, such as the propmaster or the special effects man, in which he would play around with the items in their workspaces, such as the breakable props. One notable interview was with associate producer Jordan Schlansky, who Conan found to be unfazed by his wild antics. Conan explored on his personal life, such as his talent for the bullwhip, his appreciation for Rush, and his knowledge and passion for finer culture, cuisine, and wine. This led to an episode where Jordan and Conan had dinner at an Italian restaurant, with Conan purposefully, but trying to annoy and embarrass Jordan the whole time. Jordan did not react one way or another to Conan's behavior.