Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Conan wants you—to join his studio cutout army

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Conrad Bain, James Comey, Kevin Hart, Kevin Hart, Kavin Hart, Kevin Hart, Andy Richter
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Conrad Bain, James Comey, Kevin Hart, Kevin Hart, Kavin Hart, Kevin Hart, Andy Richter
Screenshot: Conan

Conan O’Brien has been broadcasting from legendary Los Angeles comedy club Largo for a while now. Oh, he’s still just interviewing celebrities over Zoom (see every Newswire photo since the pandemic began to really sink its virus-dripping spikes in), but at least he’s behind a desk again. Finally joined in the same room this week by comedy life partner since ’93 Andy Richter, Conan welcomed his sidekick back with a shout, since Andy is now posted some dozen or so rows up in the cavernously empty theater. (Conan assured everyone that Andy’s socially distanced second banana work was because he and his crew are keeping safe, but Andy somberly spilled the beans that Conan had a 30-foot buffer zone written right into their original NBC contract, but the pandemic is the first time the host was legally allowed to enforce it.)

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Still, the pair fell back into their wonted rhythms, even at yelling distance, agreeing that doing comedy to the decidedly unpacked rafters of a once appreciative comedy club is sort of a tough room, honestly. That’s why, as prop-happy and inventively silly as Conan’s various talk shows have ever been, he sent some of his minions to the no doubt cavernous and haunted Warner Brothers warehouses to bring back “every random cardboard cutout they can find” to provide some welcome—if two-dimensional—ambience. And boy did those minions deliver.

Look, do we need to know why there was a life-sized cardboard cutout of towering former FBI head and guy literally nobody is happy with, James Comey? Conan was just glad to have a soberly standing Comey towering over Supreme Court Justice (and person almost single handedly holding American democracy together) Ruth Bader Ginsburg and a cutout of the late former Diff’rent Strokes star Conrad Bain. Sure, Bain didn’t exactly look happy to be there, but, if you’re an attention-starved late-night host, you take all the seat-fillers you can get. Rounding out the row were four-count ’em four—more agreeable-looking Kevin Harts, because the Warner vaults are a strange and wondrous place. (And because Kevin Hart is everywhere.)

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Still, that’s only four audience members (comprising seven bodies), leaving Largo still largely echoey and not grinning in eerie, frozen stares at Conan’s latest monologue innovations. (This week—sexy Conan, complete with wind machine, shades, and a copyright-distinct, joke-explanatory rendition of John Parr’s “St. Elmo’s Fire [Man In Motion]”). And that’s where you come in.

O’Brien and Richter announced a new way for viewers stuck at home to while a way a few minutes farting around on their overtaxed computers, directing at-home audience members to TeamCoco.com/Cutouts. That’s where you can submit a full-torso picture of yourself (clothed, please) with the possibility of Conan presumably spending some of its unused green room snack money to transform you into an MLB-style pandemic cardboard audience member. O’Brien said it’d be nice if you were laughing uproariously in your photo, but he wants verisimilitude, so a pic of you “frowning or just checking out a little bit” is also acceptable. And, just to reiterate, please be wearing clothes—for now. “We’ll see how long this quarantine goes on,” promised Conan, so stay tuned.

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Contributor, The A.V. Club. Danny Peary's Cult Movies books are mostly to blame.

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