The smart funnyman turns 50, and we celebrate five of his greatest gay-ish moments on TV.
Conan O’Brien, the Simpsons and SNL writer who managed to become late-night talk show royalty thanks to his smart silliness and silly smartness, turns 50 today. For my money, almost nobody is cooler. MAYBE Jody Watley.
In 2000, I taped the episode of Late Night with Conan O’Brien when his sidekick Andy Richter left the series to pursue other TV gigs (because I had my eighth grade class trip that day and couldn’t watch it as it aired– ugh!). It is an emotionally wrenching hour, and it was then that I realized Conan is awesome because he’s both stupefyingly clever and honest as a performer. He’s even vulnerable, and if you’ve seen the documentary Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop, you know he’s also something of a maniac — and thankfully one that won’t stop.
Today I celebrate his birthday with five of my favorite gay-ish clips from his years on the tube.
1. Conan officiates a wedding for one of his gay staffers.
It’s heartwarming, star-studded (Hey, that’s Andy Cohen!), and best of all, real. When Conan presided over his gay wardrobe stylist’s wedding, it was hard not to choke up a bit.
2. Conan stands up for gay rights to the chagrin of his gay staffers
Like all gay men, Conan’s gay staffers can telepathically communicate with one another. And they are pissed.
3. Billy Eichner hunts Madonna at the Super Bowl
Conan’s love of Billy Eichner is one of his most endearing qualities. The fact that he unleashed Billy at the Super Bowl to quiz football fans about their love of Madonna is basically proof of his godliness. We should always respond to the name “Howie Mandel” with Billy’s seismic urgency.
4. Every single appearance of announcer Joel Godard
Announcer Joel Godard’s ear-to-ear grin and extreme line-readings are spooky and hilarious. If there’s one thing we learned about the ponytailed gent, it’s that he also loves young Thai men. Sigh. Cute and bizarre.
5. The gay moments of the “Clive Clemmons Inappropriate Response” channel.
I love the old bit where Conan and Andy Richter browsed the vast (and fake) array of TV channels available to NBC staffers. (One favorite was the “Serious ’You Go, Girl'” channel, a network where people earnestly said “You go, girl” to each other in non-comedic vignettes). One such channel on NBC’s satellite was the “Clive Clemmons Inappropriate Response” channel, which showed people responding absurdly to normal statements, followed by a hard-rocker named Clive Clemmons who announced “Inappropriate!” while shredding on his guitar. So weird, and yet, so much potential for wacky gay jokes. Check out the freakish gay twist at the end of this reel!
What are your favorite gay-esque Conan moments? Happy birthday to the man himself!