Our long national nightmare is over: NBC and Conan O’Brien finally ended their much-publicized standoff last week, with Conan reportedly pocketing a cool $33 million (with an additional $12 million for his staff), and NBC putting good old reliable Jay Leno back in the 11:30pm ‘Tonight Show‘ slot.
(Hard to believe it’s only been two weeks since Conan’s ‘People of Earth‘ letter, right? This whole saga has had more twists and turns than a Mexican soap opera. And yes, Jeff Zucker is definitely the mustachioed villain in this scenario.)
As part of his settlement with NBC, Conan can’t start a new show at another network until September 1st. Seven months… that’s a lot of time to kill. (But not a lot of time to let a late-night talk show find its footing before yanking it—zing!) So we thought we’d give our favorite gawky redhead a few suggestions as to how to spend all this free time.
10. Actually take that job at Lady Foot Locker
He joked in his monologue about interviewing there, back when things were looking particularly grim. But hey, any job’s a good job in this economy, right? He’s tall enough to reach the shoeboxes on the top shelf. And if he brings a camera crew with him, he could get years’ worth of material out of it.
He could even pick up some special skills: By the time September rolls around, he’ll be able to gauge a woman’s shoe size just by looking at her. That’ll be a great icebreaker when he’s back interviewing Hollywood starlets. (“Lemme guess, Cameron… 7-and-a-half?”)
9. Work as a body double
Conan’s always had a sense of humor about his looks. (And well he should.) Maybe he should spend the next few months putting those looks to good use by helping out a few of his doppelgangers.
Tarja Halonen, the Finnish President that looks just like him, is still in office; she could probably use a body double for her more dangerous outings. (Wear a vest, Coco!) And Conan said when the HBO movie is made of this whole mess, he’d like to be played by actress Tilda Swinton. He could return the favor as her stand-in on the next historical drama she does—she’ll need someone to try on all those ruffled gowns.
8. Sneak into the ‘Tonight Show’ audience and heckle Jay
Sure, Coco could stay classy, take the high road … but what fun is that? The man needs to vent, people. So when Jay Leno starts up again as the ‘Tonight Show‘ host in March, we’d love to see Conan throw on a disguise and sneak into a taping to razz Jay during his monologue. Jay: “Now this is interesting, have you seen this?” Conan: “No, Jay! I haven’t seen this! I’ve been too busy figuring out where my show went! Oh, that’s right, you STOLE it!”
7. Dedicate his life to hair
Conan’s poofy red mane has been the butt of jokes since he started in late night. Now it’s time for him to share that distinctive look with the world. We could see him opening an upscale hair salon for the discerning male: Le Salon Du Coco. If you’ve ever thought to yourself, “I’d like my hair to resemble a rust-colored tsunami,” well, now’s your chance!
6. Go back to his TV roots
Amazingly, the two shows that launched Conan’s career back in the early ‘90s—’Saturday Night Live’ and ‘The Simpsons‘—are still running strong. (Or, at the very least, still running.) So perhaps Coco should pay a visit to his old stomping grounds.
Now granted, NBC probably won’t let him within a hundred yards of the ‘SNL’ stage. (Although all his NBC-bashing goosed the ‘Tonight Show’ ratings, so it couldn’t hurt here.) But with all the talk about him jumping to Fox, a few months back on the ‘Simpsons’ writing staff makes a lot of sense. Maybe he can even get drawn in as the Simpsons’ new annoying redheaded neighbor. We bet he and Ned Flanders would get along swim-diddly-immingly.
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5. Find a way to rename his characters
As part of his exit deal with NBC, Conan will sadly have to leave behind all the characters he originated in his 17 years at the network—Triumph the Insult Comic Dog (no!) and the Masturbating Bear (not him too!) among them.
But Letterman found a way around this when he moved to CBS, slightly tweaking the names of his favorite bits. So Conan has seven months to come up with something more clever than ‘Victory the Disparaging Yet Hilarious Canine’ and ‘The Self-Gratifying Grizzly.’ We trust he will.
4. Host every awards show he can find
This is just good timing: His sabbatical happens to fall right smack in the middle of awards season, and he’s already done the Emmys a couple of times. So he can keep those joke-writing muscles nice and limber at the Grammys, the Oscars, the Tonys…
But let’s not stop at just the big entertainment awards. He could pop in on the Nick Kids Choice Awards, the ESPYs, the MTV Movie Awards… he could practically do one a week until September if he wanted. Think of the awards-show swag alone—it might be worth more than his severance.
3. Fight for the rights of “pale gingers”
Conan might want to take this time to get back in touch with his heritage; he comes from a long line of translucently pale, ginger-haired freaks. And his people have been taking a beating in the media lately, mocked everywhere from ‘South Park‘ to YouTube.
The pale gingers of the world need a leader—and we already know Coco can rally a crowd. So let’s see him gather his people around him and march for better treatment: Gingers Are People Too! Although they should really schedule any marches on cloudy days; the potential for a nasty sunburn with these folks is enormous.
2. Sit in on Letterman
We’d actually be surprised if this doesn’t happen… at least for one night. Conan and Dave have been united these past few weeks in their open disdain for NBC and Jay Leno. What better way for Conan to stick it to his former employer than sitting on his fellow NBC exile’s couch and laughing it up?
But why stop at just one night? Coco’s schedule is cleared through Labor Day; let’s see him installed as a semi-permanent ‘Late Show‘ fixture, perfecting his fake laugh as Dave’s Ed McMahon. Hmmm, actually, maybe that’s not such a great idea—don’t want to risk making Paul Shaffer jealous.
1. Join the cast of ‘Jersey Shore’
This makes almost too much sense: The ‘Jersey Shore‘ cast are the only people on TV getting more publicity than Conan these days. And MTV could probably use some new blood to stir things up for the second season. We’d pay good money to see Conan pack some Ed Hardy T-shirts and an economy-sized jar of hair gunk and head down to the shore, baby!
The Situation and Pauly D could introduce him to the concept of ‘GTL’ (in Conan’s case, leaning heavily on the T). Who knows, maybe even a late-night hot-tub hookup with lonely-heart Snooki? Just remember, Coco: Never fall in love at the Jersey Shore. By summer’s end, we want you rested and ready to get back on late-night TV again—right where you belong.
Got more ideas for our favorite unemployed ginger? Throw ‘em out in the Comments; he’s got plenty of time to read them.