8:41pm PT by Katie Kilkenny
'Conan' Debuts Short-Format Show With Smaller Stage, New Look, Tom Hanks
Conan returned to the air on Tuesday night after a three-month hiatus with a new 30-minute format that featured a more casually-dressed host, a smaller stage and a starry guest lineup.
When host Conan O'Brien took to the stage for his monologue at Conan's usual time — 11 p.m. ET — he was wearing a button-down, a long cardigan and slacks, as opposed to his previous suit. "This is how I dress in real life. I call this hip biology teacher," he joked. "I sell weed after class. But I’m middle-aged, so I call it 'The Weed.' I looked at myself before the show and I thought, shit, I look like Indiana Jones' accountant."
The host's stage was also notably closer to the audience than his previous version and absent a band; rather than occupy a microphone at the corner of the stage, announcer Andy Richter immediately engaged in an early bit. "New set. I moved the audience a lot closer and I have to say -- I don’t like it," O'Brien said.
O'Brien then explained his change in format to the audience as an inevitable lifestyle transformation as he grows older. "Why the change to a half hour? I’ll tell you why: You know when your parents get older, and they move out of that big, drafty old house with the staircase? It’s too big for them," he joked. "And they downsize to a new, smaller, condo. It’s got safety railings in the bathroom. It has the string you pull by the toilet in case you get in trouble. That’s what this show is. A year from now, this show will be 15 minutes and I’ll be hosting it from an adjustable bed."
Following the host's monologue, Richter and O'Brien spoofed NBC's hit melodrama This Is Us with a meal scene, in which they played husband and wife. A star of the actual show, Milo Ventimiglia, cameoed at the table as their child; "Hi new dad, hi new mom," he said as he arrived on the set in a letterman's jacket.
"Conan, this is not your son. He is way too ruggedly handsome!" Richter joked. Ventimiglia, he said, was "just scamming us for free food."
The night's scheduled guest, Tom Hanks, immediately joked that he was appearing on Conan's inaugural 30-minute show to "to plug my appearance on your new show. It's going to air tonight."
O'Brien added, as a serious aside: "We have a strong connection, you coined the phrase 'Team Coco,'" he said, referring to his show's (and its fan base's) moniker.
"It's because I couldn't remember your name," Hanks responded.
During their conversation, O'Brien tackled the Green Mile star's reputation as the "nicest guy" in Hollywood. Hanks said that he's nice to a point — that point being when he believes someone's taking advantage of his niceness.
When he gets truly angry, he says, he uses "these words: 'Let me get this straight.'" He then provided multiple scenarios in which he might use the phrase, like if he was 10 minutes late to a dinner reservation and it was given away.
After Hanks admitted this was an "uptown" problem, Conan joked, "You are digging yourself a terrible hole. Nicest guy in show business, my ass."
Later, the two tackled Hanks' biggest insecurity. Hanks said it was "a squeaky voice and a big ass."
Conan airs on TBS on weekdays at 11 p.m. ET.