Conan O'Brien: "I'm Terrible With Jokes"

Conan O'Brien at a Museum of Television & Radio seminar in New York on the absurdity and silliness of late night comedy.
"Late Night" talk show host Conan O'Brien confessed to a packed theater, "I'm terrible with jokes," last night in New York at a Museum Of Television & Radio seminar highlighting the silliness and absurdity of late night comedy.

It's the response O'Brien usually gives when asked to say something funny. Conan reminded the 200 or so in attendance that he started out as an improvisational actor and not a stand-up comedian.

The talk show host, along with select members of his writing staff, discussed the wacky characters "Late Night" has showcased since its debut in 1993, some of which include masturbating bear, horny manatee, man with bulletproof legs, and Triumph the Insult Comic Dog.

O'Brien said humor on his show isn't meant to be a satire of current events. A lot of the funny things on "Late Night" are the result of "arbitrary choices … (and) exist for no good reason," he said.

In 2004 it was announced that O'Brien would succeed Jay Leno as host of NBC's "Tonight Show." O'Brien said he views that responsibility as a sacred trust.

As a result of the timeslot switch, for the first time, O'Brien will go head to head with the iconic David Letterman, whose "Late Show" airs on CBS.

When asked about it, O'Brien, who replaced Letterman as host of "Late Night" in 1993, said, "It's a weird thought ... The only way to address it is to not think about it."

O'Brien said he would continue to try and do the funniest show each and every night. "I think that's what (Dave) would have wanted."

When asked by an audience member about the biggest challenge facing his own successor, Conan replied, "To quote Mr. T, 'I pity the fool.' "
By Muni S. Jaitly