With most of the late-night hosts taking a few weeks off, Conan O’Brien looked to steal all the ratings on Monday, not just by airing a new Conan, but by being the first host to bust out of quarantine. Broadcasting live from legendary (and pandemic-shuttered) L.A. comedy club Largo At The Coronet, Conan came onstage to no applause whatsoever, since the theater was essentially empty. Sure, there was what O’Brien described as a “bare-bones crew” (which appeared to consist of one camera and one sound guy), plus an audience of one, in the form of Conan’s trusty, long-suffering assistant and podcasting sidekick Sona Movsesian. Conan joked about feeding off of Sona’s energy to fuel this first foray outside of his home in three months, throwing to a shot of the masked and deadpan-silent Movsesian in about row 30. So things weren’t all that different from how they’ve been, really, with the exception that Conan’s residency will be helping pay some of Largo’s bills. (Conan joked about getting his first onstage laugh at Largo in 1985, reminiscing that his last came when he stopped doing improv there in 1991.)
And when you’ve got a sort-of new talk show, you grab the highest-profile celebrity pal you’ve got, so this live Conan consisted of one long, typically amusing interview with Will Ferrell. And, sure, the chat was conducted over Zoom as is the new normal in late-night—honestly, Conan’s Largo stint will consist mainly of O’Brien doing his monologue from a different chair—but O’Brien and Ferrell goofing around is reliably entertaining, even with the daytime reverse-beeping of a delivery truck throughout, plus the various bloops and bleeps of someone’s computer alerts in the background. (Looking at you, Ferrell.) The pair talked up Ferrell’s amiably silly new movie, Eurovision Song Contest: The Story Of Fire Saga (with Ferrell showing off his quarantine belly in contrast to the trimmer but still deeply unflattering clip of his gangly torso in a skin-tight leotard), with Ferrell unfolding to Conan the unenviable task of trying to out-weird the world’s most enduringly bananas international musical competition. Ferrell—mocked by Conan for seemingly video-calling in from what O’Brien swore was a trailer at an abandoned construction site—explained that, at one point, he just threw up his hands and outright stole the film’s hamster wheel setpiece from an actual 2014 Ukrainian Eurovision competitor. You just can’t out-Eurovision the Eurovision Song Contest.