Conan bring Late Night to Toronto
The guests will range from J.D. Salinger to Saddam Hussein to Ed the Sock, at least according to a tongue-in-cheek Conan O’Brien who confirmed Monday that he will bring his show to Toronto for four nights in February.
And the late-night personality quipped that if it all works out, they’ll move Late Night permanently from New York City to Winnipeg. But a disappointed-sounding O’Brien promised that any igloo jokes are out.
“The minute I heard Toronto I thought that makes perfect sense,” O’Brien added, turning serious at a news conference, maintaining that he’s found the best, hippest members of studio audiences in New York always turned out to be from T.O.
“They appreciated some of the things that we were doing, like Clutch Cargo with the lips, some of the weird animated segments. They appreciated those things before some people in America did.”
The news conference brought out politicians who expressed glee that O’Brien’s show would help boost city tourism in the wake of the disastrous SARS summer.
Mayor David Miller joked that the popular TV comic was most gracious, even offering him a bathrobe during a visit to this hotel suite. Ontario Tourism Minister Jim Bradley noted that the four tapings would occur in the middle of TV’s critical February sweeps period.
“Canada’s biggest city will have this chance to polish its reputation even further.”
But O’Brien made it clear that the main idea is to do something funny and to exploit the city’s comedy potential, not to simply plug the city and the country for tourists.
“The first 15 minutes of each show will be a film strip, to talk about Gross National Product, rainfall, you know, ethnic diversity,” he said with tongue planted firmly back in his cheek, adding that some of the show’s writers had already been enrolled in the University of Toronto to study agriculture.
The idea for the road show was born last summer, apparently, in a meeting between Toronto native and executive producer of both Saturday Night Live and Late Night, Lorne Michaels, and Peter Soumalias, founder of Canada’s Walk of Fame.
“Mike Myers had recently appeared on NBC’s Tonight Show and we thought it might be cool to bring the coolest late-night talk show to the coolest city, in the coolest country, in a cool month,” Soumalias explained.
Some other O’Brien bons mots at the press conference:
“Alex Trebek is going to put me in touch with everybody … it’s the Trebek system.” ó on how he will select Canadian celebrities to be guests.
“Saddam Hussein, just yesterday, first thing out of the hole was `I’m going on Conan, I hope, in Toronto.'” ó on who his first guests will be during Canadian tapings.
“I never even had that idea until you mentioned it. Now it’s gonna be `Igloo, igloo, igloo, igloo! Igloo all the time!” ó when a local hotelier pleaded that he not indulge in stereotypical Canadian humour involving beavers, Mounties and igloos.
Details on tickets and guests for the Feb. 10-13 tapings, at the historic downtown Elgin Theatre, will be released in January.
O’Brien’s late-night show recently celebrated its 10th anniversary. When Late Night was launched, Michaels said at the time that the red-headed comic writer was selected for his unique mix of “vitality, wit and intelligence.”
O’Brien, now 40, was once a writer for both SNL and The Simpsons. Born in Brookline, Mass., he recently became a father, with Neve O’Brien born in New York City on Dec. 1.
Conan bring Late Night to Toronto