Comedian Conan O’Brien has been a late-night television staple for almost 26 years. He began hosting NBC’s Late Night in 1993 and then moved on to the network’s Tonight Show in 2009. However, his new gig didn’t go as smoothly as planned and he was forced to quit the show in January of 2010 after just seven months on air. Several months later O’Brien was back on top, though, hosting Conan on TBS. His beloved eponymous show is about to kick off its ninth season — and there will be some radical new changes.
The revamped Conan will make its debut on Tuesday, January 22. It will air in the same time slot as before — at 11 p.m. four nights per week, Monday through Thursday — but the length of the show is being cut in half from one hour to 30 minutes, according to a TBS press release posted on the Futon Critic website.
Longtime fans of Conan can expect to see O’Brien’s signature brand of comedy and celebrity guests, but the new version of the series will not feature a house band and is designed to “evolve the genre by challenging conventions, taking creative risks, and discovering and fostering new comedic talent.”
“My three-month absence can only mean one thing — radical cosmetic surgery. Tune in January 22nd for a true freak show,” the 55-year-old joked about the revitalized show.
A new video uploaded to YouTube on Tuesday, December 18, teases the show’s big return and explains what O’Brien has been doing since Conan went off the air on October 4, which is rebuilding his Team Coco brand into a multi-platform experience.
In addition to the television series, fans can access unique content online at TeamCoco.com and listen to his brand-new and highly rated podcast, Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend. The funnyman also just wrapped up the 18-city “Conan & Friends: An Evening of Stand-Up and Investment Tips” nationwide tour, which sold out venues in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and other towns between November 2 and December 15.
The clip also states that there will be a brand-new set for the TV series, but only a blurry photo of it is shown because, as the announcer says, “Conan wants to keep it a secret until January.” O’Brien then says that he wants to “tantalize” his viewers. Watch the video below.
By airing from 11 to 11:30 p.m., Conan will not be competing with any of the big late-night shows on the other channels such as ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live, CBS’ The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, and NBC’s The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. However, it will be up against Comedy Central’s The Daily Show with Trevor Noah and Bravo’s Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen.
During a Q&A at the New York Comedy Festival in November, Vulture reported that O’Brien said he plans to shoot more footage than necessary for each episode of Conan in order for it to “be very loose and playful.” The best scenes will air on the TBS show and extra footage will be released online “so they work off of each other.”
“Part of what we’re trying to do with this new shift is, you should be able to see what I’m up to pretty much 24 hours a day. And if we have something funny that we can comment on in the moment, that should be put out there at 3 in the afternoon. I don’t want to be killing time — especially in a world where there’s 175 late-night shows and people are experiencing them in a different way. I want the linear show to match what we experience digitally.”
Season 9 of Conan premieres on TBS on Tuesday, January 22, at 11 p.m.