Conan O'Brien

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About Conan O'Brien

Writer, comedian, and talk show host Conan O'Brien was born in Brookline, Massachusetts on April 4, 1963, the third of six children. A valedictorian at Brookline High School, O'Brien began his career as a writer for his school's newspaper, and after enrolling at Harvard University in 1981, where he studied history and literature, he became a staff writer for the college's celebrated humor magazine, The Harvard Lampoon. O'Brien wrote for the magazine for four consecutive years, and was elected president of the Lampoon twice. After graduating Magna Cum Laude, he landed his first job in television on the writing staff of the HBO comedy series Not Necessarily the News. In 1987, he was hired as a writer for Saturday Night Live, and in 1991, he left that post to become a writer and producer for The Simpsons. When David Letterman resigned as host of his late-night talk show on NBC in 1993 to move to another network, O'Brien was recruited to take his place, despite his paucity of performing experience, and Late Night with Conan O'Brien debuted on September 13, 1993. While the show was not an immediate hit, in time Late Night developed a devoted following thanks to O'Brien's offbeat comic style. In 2004, Jay Leno announced he was leaving NBC's flagship talk show The Tonight Show in 2009, and O'Brien was chosen to be his replacement. However, in 2009, Leno became reluctant about his decision, and NBC responded by giving him a talk show at 10:00 pm, with O'Brien's new edition of The Tonight Show following at its traditional time of 11:35 P.M. The experiment was a notorious failure in the ratings, and in early 2010, NBC chose to cancel Leno's show and give him back his hosting duties on The Tonight Show after releasing O'Brien from his contract, a decision that proved wildly controversial in the entertainment press. O'Brien's fans, who came to be known as "Team Coco," were vocal in their support of him, and O'Brien responded by staging a personal appearance tour called The Legally Prohibited from Being Funny on Television Tour (the name referring to the window of time in O'Brien's settlement with NBC which prevented him from launching a new show). While O'Brien long had an interest in music (while at Harvard, he played with a rock combo called the Bad Clams) and he occasionally sat in on guitar with guests on his television show (including Bruce Springsteen and Lou Reed), the Legally Prohibited tour gave O'Brien a fresh opportunity to show off his capable skills as a guitarist, fronting a group comprised of members of his show's studio band. During the tour, O'Brien and his band made an appearance at Jack White's Third Man Records shop in Nashville, Tennessee, and the White Stripes frontman joined O'Brien on-stage for several numbers, including on a cover of Eddie Cochran's "Twenty Flight Rock." The show was recorded and was released as a vinyl LP through White's Third Man label; the label also released a spoken word single featuring O'Brien improvising a horror story and being interviewed by White. White also stepped up to show his support for O'Brien when his new chat show, simply called Conan and broadcast on the TBS cable network, debuted on October 11, 2010; White was the show's first musical guest, and shared the stage with O'Brien performing "Twenty Flight Rock." ~ Mark Deming

Brookline, MA, United States of America
April 18, 1963

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