Legendary comedian Bob Newhart reflected on his 60-year career in show business on Conan Wednesday night.
The 88-year-old star, who most recently appeared onscreen in The Big Bang Theory as Arthur Jeffries, revealed that stand-up didn't always come easy for him. "No, I played a club where they did two shows a night," he recalled of one particularly bad flop.
"So I went up and I died. Not a snicker, but there isn't a stand-up in the world who hasn't died," he told host Conan O'Brien, adding that still to this day "you never know" if a stand-up routine will succeed. "You could walk out there and hear the air conditioning," he said.
Nowadays, Newhart said he considers himself "semi-retired," and revealed that he and his wife, Ginny, recently downsized. But when she realized that he was bored, she encouraged him to set up some comedy gigs, and he agreed. "Why would you say you're tired of making people laugh," he said. Newhart is currently booked for a gig Nov. 17 at the McCallum Theatre in Palm Desert, California.
The comedian starred in two of the most beloved sitcoms in television history, The Bob Newhart Show and Newhart. He has won a Peabody and received multiple Emmy nominations, and released numerous comedy albums (including the first to ever hit number one on the charts). He also has guest-hosted The Tonight Show a whopping 87 times, won three Grammys and has appeared in numerous films.
Of his distinctive use of comedic pauses, Newhart revealed that audio engineers would try and take them out of his comedy records, something he said he would always try to discourage. "Let me do it for you, really, you'll enjoy it much more," he would tell them.
When O'Brien congratulated him on his long career in entertainment, the comedian also revealed another big milestone: His forthcoming 56-year wedding anniversary in January with his wife, Ginny. Newhart detailed how comedian Buddy Hackett introduced the two. "He said to me, 'Bobby, you're Catholic right? I got a girl for you. I'll fix you up on a blind date and you'll get married and have kids and name one of them Buddy.'"
When asked if he followed through with Hackett's wish, Newhart deadpanned, "We did, we named one of the girls [Buddy]."
Earlier in the show, O'Brien gushed over how excited he was to have Newhart as a guest, saying he was "lucky" to have him. He also recounted how, earlier in his career when he first landed his late-night gig, Newhart was one of the first people to congratulate him.
Comedian Nikki Glaser also appeared as a guest on the show on Wednesday.