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With “a comic identity as distinctive as his name,” according to The New York Times, Conan O’Brien has firmly established himself in the late-night universe. Hailed by The Washington Post as “modest, wry, self-effacing and demonstrably the most intelligent of the late-night comics,” O’Brien’s unique brand of comedy has earned him the title “Late Night’s King of Cool” from Entertainment Weekly.
Since 1993, O’Brien has been combining his talents as writer, performer and interviewer as host of Late Night with Conan O’Brien, which The Boston Globe dubbed, “the most consistently funny and original show on late night.” On June 1, 2009, he took over the reins of the venerable The Tonight Show.
In 2002, O’Brien brought his signature wit and style to his hosting duties on the 54th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards, garnering big laughs and critical acclaim, delivering “one of the funniest opening monologues in Emmy history,” according to The Los Angeles Times. He returned to host the 58th Annual Emmys in 2006, captivating the crowd with filmed pieces and a full-tilt song-and-dance number that prompted many critics to call for O’Brien to be named “Emmy Host for Life.”
Late Night with Conan O’Brien was consistently honored with Emmy nominations for Outstanding Comedy-Variety Series since 2003 and, in 2007, the Late Night writing team won their first Emmy for Outstanding Writing in a Comedy or Variety Series after 10 years of nominations. O’Brien and the Late Night writing staff have won six Writers Guild Awards for Best Writing in a Comedy/Variety Series, including two consecutive wins in 2002 and 2003 and 12 nominations overall.
A two-time president of the venerable and notorious Harvard Lampoon, O’Brien moved to Los Angeles upon graduation and joined the writing staff of HBO’s Not Necessarily the News. During his two years with the show, he performed regularly with several improvisational groups, including the Groundlings.
By 1988, O’Brien’s talents had come to the attention of Lorne Michaels, executive producer of aturday Night Live, who hired O’Brien as a writer in January of that year. His three-and-one-half years on the show produced such recurring sketches as “Mr. Short-Term Memory” and “The Girl Watchers” (first performed by Tom Hanks and Jon Lovitz). In 1989, his work on SNL was recognized with an Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing in a Comedy or Variety Series.
In the spring 1991, O’Brien left SNL and wrote and produced a TV pilot, Lookwell, starring Adam West. It was telecast on NBC in July of that year but was not picked up as a series. That fall, O’Brien signed on as a writer/producer for the series The Simpsons, where he later became the show’s supervising producer. From all the episodes he wrote, his favorite is “Springfield Gets a Monorail.”
On April 26, 1993, O’Brien was selected from among the many talented potential hosts of Late Night for his particular and unique mix of “vitality, wit and intelligence,” according to Michaels.
Born in Brookline, Massachusetts, O’Brien is married with two children and resides in Los Angeles.