This headline is not misleading as it actually did happen! We also show you something you never thought you could do with salad! In the video that follows this story you’ll see these demonstration along with some unusual products I demonstrated on Late Night With Conan O’Brien in the mid-1990’s.
While I had chalked up a few hundred TV appearances, for a number of reasons, being a guest on this show was so different than any other show I worked during my Gadget Guru days.
While my Today show segments, with very few exceptions, aired live, Conan was taped at 4pm and the show aired the same day in its 11:30pm Eastern time slot. Since I had to be in the Today Show studio at 4pm to unbox and setup the products for the following morning’s show, when I worked Conan, and since both shows were housed in the massive 30 Rockefeller Plaza complex, concessions were made so that I could simply take the elevator and go from one studio to another. While this show was taped, there were no re-dos and unless there was a technical glitch or if the producers later decided an edit or two was required, it aired in a format that is known as “Live on Tape.”
Like my Today Show appearances, there were no rehearsals with the Host. In fact, I would only see Conan on the set just moments before the countdown where we should shake hands and say hello. While I’m sure he read the notes on the segment, we never discussed the segment in advance.
And, as you can see the height difference between Conan and myself maybe added to the unusual segments we would present. Yes, I’m short…but he’s really tall!
As a comparison, when appearing on Today I would need to arrive a couple of hours prior to the show for what was called a rehearsal, but it was without the host and was a technical rehearsal for the Director so that lighting and camera moves can be checked while I performed a basic walk through. This also gave us the chance to record a few “bumpers” that would be used to tease the segment earlier in the show. Then I would sit in the green room, have breakfast and wait until a just few minutes prior to the “hit” time to make my way to the studio. On Conan, the setup process was less formal and I can only guess that most of the action took place when Conan was performing his monologue, sitting behind his desk or interviewing his guests who were seated on the sofa.
Another big difference in working Conan was the role I would need to play as compared to Today or a number of other syndicated talk shows. On the other shows, there would be an introduction and basically, I would setup the theme and lead the segment with the host interjecting questions while I went through my lineup of products. On Conan though, and it took some time for me to learn this, my job would be to setup the situation and then give him free reign in deciding how far to go with his take on what I was presenting. In essence, I became the straight man and it was a foreign concept to me. It took a few appearances but I learned that Conan is a master of thinking on his feet and I truly enjoyed working his show. As you will see in this video, I would never know what was going to happen next. I think the Director was at times surprised as well!
Because this show had a studio audience, it was a surreal experience for me. I wasn’t used to the applause, laughter or the drum rolls that burst out when we did our jobs effectively.
In this Late Night With Conan O’Brien segment, I featured products that you wouldn’t see on Today and through the use of additional props we provided some entertainment that was much different that what I was used to on the morning or daytime TV shows.