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“Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend” is an irresistible mixture of philosophical discussions about art and life and pure zaniness. It’s a program from the late-night host turned podcasting ringmaster that defies easy characterization, and a show that manages to move seamlessly from moments of hilarity to unexpected instances of confession. In one episode, Jeff Goldblum makes purring noises and discusses pinkie rings. In another, Stephen Colbert movingly talks about the deaths of his father and brothers in a plane crash. O’Brien, the host of TBS’ “Conan,” spoke with Variety about why he enjoys exploring the world of audio after nearly a quarter century on television, and the big names he’d like to befriend in future seasons of the show.
Did you have trouble booking guests?
Event - Will - Ferrell - Greek - Theatre
I was doing an event with Will Ferrell at the Greek Theatre, and I knew our booker had reached out to him about doing the podcast. I showed up, and he came out of his dressing room and grabbed me by both shoulders and said, ‘I’m not doing your f—ing podcast.’ I didn’t realize at that moment that he was kidding. He had intended all along to do the podcast — but there was a second there where I thought this is going to be everybody’s reaction.
Very quickly people started hearing the podcast, and we started having people book themselves. As a lifelong believer in achievement through pain and some amount of suffering — it all goes back to a Catholic childhood — this season has been infuriating because it has undone everything I’ve ever believed.
Celebrities - Show
What do celebrities like about doing the show?
It’s a chance for them to come in and have this intimate conversation. I remember Lisa Kudrow said to me, “Wait, no hair. No makeup. I’m there.” People can roll in on the way...
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