Conan O’Brien debuted his new TBS late night talker Monday to good reviews and great ratings. The basic cable slot — which O’Brien references in his monologue below — did not deter viewers, with 4.1 million tuning in at 11 p.m. for his first show. The median age of the audience was just 30, with 2.4 million in the coveted 18-34 demographic. O’Brien’s first guests were Seth Rogen and “Glee” star Lea Michele.
O’Brien’s competition includes Comedy Central’s highly-rated block of “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart” and “The Colbert Report.” Both of those satirical shows have bested O’Brien at the Emmys. “The Daily Show” has had a lock on Best Variety Comedy Music Series since 2003. That was the first year “Late Night with Conan O’Brien” contended in that category after a decade on the air. “Late Night” lost five bids in a row and was then snubbed for the last two years of its run with the resurgent “Saturday Night Live” getting nominated instead. O’Brien did return to that race at the most recent Emmys for his abbreviated turn at the helm of “The Tonight Show.”
And he and his writers also contended, though they were bested by those wags who pen “The Colbert Report.” During his tenure at “Late Night,” O’Brien and his jokemeisters were also-rans every year from 1996 to 2004 and then again in 2006. They finally prevailed in 2007. That marked the only Emmy win for “Late Night” out of 29 nominations, including two more bids for writing in 2008 and 2009. In 2008, the “Late Night” writers lost to “The Colbert Report” and in 2009 to “The Daily Show” scribes.
Photo: Conan O’Brien on “Conan” (TBS)