Kumail Nanjiani drew the ire of the Conan-verse last week when the comedian and Stuber star cancelled—don’t say he bailed!—his appearance on the host’s TBS series just 30 minutes before showtime. The result ended up being a testament to off-the-cuff comedy, as Conan cleverly filled the empty space with a supremely entertaining interview with his assistant, Sona Movsesian. Conan clarified that Nanjiani got caught up on the set for the final season of Silicon Valley, but that didn’t stop Andy Richter from (good-naturedly) calling him a “troublesome diva.” Now, you can hear the interview that almost never was thanks to the Conan O’Brien Needs A Friend podcast, which found the pair addressing Nanjiani’s no-show.
Their chat starts around the 10-minute mark with O’Brien clearing the air by calling Nanjiani “a famously...very nice guy,” noting that this “was something that was out of your control.” He does, however, recall being informed of the cancellation by a producer while in the make-up chair. “He said, ‘I think it’s drugs,’ and we all nodded as that’s Kumail’s MO, he’s probably wasted.”
“I was shooting Silicon Valley, and they said they would have me out at a certain time,” Nanjiani explains. “The details are, there was a scene we were shooting—I was going to be just in the last bit of the scene. They said we’ll shoot your bit of your scene and then you’d get out. As soon as we rehearsed, they said, ‘Even though you are only in the last page, you’re not going to be able to leave because of the way it is set up.’ And, they were right. There was no way they could really get me out.”
Nanjiani even tried to find a replacement, and Silicon Valley co-star Martin Starr was willing. By that time, however, Conan had decided to embrace the unknown. “We were immediately thinking, what do we do?” Conan said. “Instead of just finding someone else, let’s just have fun with the fact that we only have one guest on the show and that guest didn’t come. I’ll talk to my trusty assistant. So we ended up doing that.”
Hear the full interview here, which finds the pair discussing their individual work ethics, shitty diets, and There Will Be Blood. No, they sadly do not discuss what role Nanjiani is playing in The Eternals.