After the coronavirus forced a mass shutdown of the entertainment industry amid a global pandemic, thousands of stars took to their social media to keep content coming in as a way to cheer up the masses. But just days after the U.S. lockdown, comedian Conan O'Brien went back to work with the help of his staff to film his eponymous TBS late-night talk show from the comfort of his home. With the writers and crew working remotely, O'Brien revealed the show would be shot entirely from his California residence using an iPhone, while his guests used Skype.
In an exclusive interview with O'Brien's co-star and late-night announcer Andy Richter for PopCulture.com, the comedian revealed shooting Conan during the pandemic has been a very different experience. "This has all been so weird. This time is just — it's unlike anything else," Richter said in our series, PopCulture @ Home. "I've been going in because Conan was doing the show from home, and I was doing my show from home, and I felt like I was a subcontractor. Somebody would send me an email with a bit and then I would shoot it myself. If it needed props, I'd prop it myself."
Richter goes on to share how he felt like a "YouTuber" at times, getting his task done for the day of a shoot. "Because I had nothing else to do, I would get it done in 20 minutes and then I'd be done," he said. "And then it would be another day or two before somebody would say, 'Oh, and then we need another thing from you!'
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The 53-year-old comedian laughs over the thought of him feeling almost "retired" from work, even jokingly postulating whether he had a job. "I mean, yeah, I kind of have a job — but I don't know. We were off for about a month and we went back in yesterday," he said adding how he "misses" the cast and crew. "I went back in yesterday, and I think I'm going to start going to the theater where [Conan's] shooting it on a daily basis."
As one of the first talk show stars to host his series remotely, O'Brien and crew made the move from his home to a real live stage while practicing social distancing guidelines this past July. Broadcasting from Largo at the Coronet in West Hollywood, the site is a location close to O'Brien's heart as he began his improv on that very stage in 1986. But the move doesn't mean the show has gone back to normalcy. With no live audience or guests, O'Brien is continuing to interview stars via Zoom with the show including just a limited number of staff members on-site in an effort to ensure industry health and safety protocols.
Richter goes on to share with PopCulture how he got a text telling him "it's more fun" when he's around on set. "I certainly am happy to have somewhere to go and something to do, and some people to see. It is weird. I think we've touched elbows now," he laughed. "And we all wear our masks, and we all stay pretty far away. I sit out in the audience of the theater as kind of a joke, but now it's been established and it's fun to do it that way."
Conan airs weeknights from Monday to Thursday at 11 p.m. ET on TBS. For more on Conan, Andy, his latest project — like the Audible Original, Vroom Vroom now available to download — and all your favorite stars, keep it locked to PopCulture.com for the latest!