10:57am PT by Katherine Schaffstall
'Conan' Airs Last Hourlong Episode, O'Brien Pays Tribute to Longtime Band
The final hourlong episode of TBS' Conan aired on Thursday night.
It was reported in May that the late-night talk show would be reduced from a full hour to a half-hour format on the Turner-owned cable network. The new and less structured format will feature guests and a variety of segments drawn from the newly expanded Team Coco portfolio. It will include television, digital, social and live events that will allow host Conan O'Brien to have a greater interaction across multiple platforms.
"We thought we'd mark our 25th year on the air by changing up our format, so today is gonna be our last hourlong program and soon in January we're gonna switch to a half-hour," O'Brien announced on Thursday's episode.
The host said that he's switching the format so that he can spend more time doing things he really loves. "I'm not talking about my wife and children. That ship sailed a long time ago," he joked. "I'm talking about travel shows around the world, silly remote pieces, interviewing brilliant, distinct people. Really just focusing on the stuff that we love the most."
He explained that the show will be going on hiatus to focus on the transition, though he will be keeping busy on a comedy tour. "At these shows you will be allowed to touch me. You'll be encouraged to smell me and for a small fee, you can take me home," he joked.
In addition to the Team Coco Presents Conan & Friends: An Evening of Stand-Up and Investment Tips tour, the host will be launching a podcast in November called Conan O'Brien Needs a Friend and a travel special called Conan in Japan.
Team Coco is also launching a new website called Conan25, which will contain thousands of digitally remastered late-night episodes from the entirety of O'Brien's career.
"There are many, many changes coming up that I'm very excited about," O'Brien said later in the show. "But to be really honest and very frank, there is one change on the horizon that makes me quite sad. In January, when our show transitions to the new half-hour format, our band will not be with us."
The members of Jimmy Vivino & The Basic Cable Band have been with O'Brien through the entirety of his late-night career, including his stints on Late Night and The Tonight Show. "These remarkable musicians have given their talent, energy, enthusiasm and incredible showmanship for over 4,000 hours," he said. "These guys played at my wedding, which was in Seattle in January and no one goes to Seattle in January."
"At the most perilous moment of my career, when I was suddenly without a show and feeling pretty alone, this band came with me on a nationwide tour that to this day is one of the highlights of my professional life," he said. "They are remarkable musicians and they are even better people."
The host then said that he has studied every late-night talk show tracking back to the 1950s. "I can say this with confidence. I've been graced with the most versatile, loyal and joyously effervescent band in the history of television, and to put it very simply, I love these guys," he said.
"So tonight on our last hourlong show, I'm putting the spotlight on where it belongs. On Jimmy Vivino & The Basic Cable Band. Gentlemen, I want to thank you for a quarter-century of friendship, laughter and the best music I will know in this life," said O'Brien before introducing the band for a performance.
O'Brien later joined the band for a cover of "40 Days." "The guys asked me if we could do one number that we did on the road — what, eight, nine years ago? And this is always what we closed the show with and it's a little bit of a barn burner," said the host before beginning the cover.