In case you missed it last night, Conan O’Brien’s first television interview since he was shitcanned took place on “60 Minutes” last night. It was the first time he was legally allowed to talk about the situation on television, but the non-disparagement contract is still in effect, so there was obviously a lot of care taken with his word choice. I think that the message that Conan wanted everyone take home was that he was fine. He’s got millions. He’s got a new TV show coming in November. And his 40-city tour is doing fantastic. In a universal sense, few have it better than Conan O’Brien.
But on a more singular level, it was clear from both his words (“”I’m laughing because crying would be sad”) and his more somber tone that he’s still hurt by the debacle and that he does blame Jay Leno. He wouldn’t call Leno a dishonorable man (because Leno, like the rest of NBC, are little weasels hiding behind a legal contract), but he wouldn’t call him honorable, either. On the question of Leno’s honor, Conan had this to say:
I don’t think I can answer that. I can just tell you maybe how I would have handled it. And I would do it differently. If I had surrendered The Tonight Show and handed it over to somebody publicly and wished them well, I would not have come back six months later. But that’s me, you know. Everyone’s got their own, you know, way of doing things.
In the end, it was a business decision. He says he’s come to terms with it. But I doubt that he has, and I doubt that anyone would. It was a blow to the ego, and $32 million can’t heal pride. There’s part of me, in fact, that thinks Conan would’ve blown off the $32 million and the non-disparagement contract if it weren’t for the fact that NBC was also paying his staff a huge severance. The livelihood of hundreds of people depends on Conan choosing his words carefully. So, until November, Conan’s got to swallow the pride. In the meantime, he just won’t shave. It’s his small victory. “OK. I lost ‘The Tonight Show’ but I’ll stop shaving.”
The good news is, from a comedian’s standpoint, he’s got enough material over this episode to last a decade. Even better: His wife — who also spoke briefly during the “60 Minutes” segment — seems like an awesome and supportive woman. She’s pleasing to the eyes, too.
Here’s the video.