Conan O'Brien Adds MLB-esque Cutouts to Largo Theater Audience

Conan O'Brien - Getty - H 2019
Rich Polk/Getty Images for Xandr

Jason Sudeikis spoke to the TBS host about teaching his son good and evil using the 'Star Wars' movies.

Conan O'Brien, returning from a brief hiatus, is still broadcasting his eponymous TBS show from a largely empty Largo Theater, but the host, who admitted Monday night that he'd yet to cut his hair, has added a paper-thin crowd.

Opening Monday's show, O'Brien gave viewers an inside glimpse into his skeleton crew setup. As the host spoke onstage from behind a desk, one camera delivered a wide shot of the theater. In the audience, viewers can see a very small number of socially distanced people on and in front of the stage, and sitting in the theater's seats.

"Hardly anybody joining me here, just to keep things COVID safe," O'Brien told the camera. "And let's face it. It's pretty much an empty theater, which can get lonely. And, I don't know, I'm not used to that. I'm used to a crowd chanting, 'We love you,' 'You're the best' … 'TV icon,' whatever."

The late night host acknowledged that the filming arrangement is a noticeable shift from both his at-home and Warner Bros. studio environments. In particular, the silence was something he noted would take some getting used to. So to help return the show its old studio feeling, O'Brien took a page from the MLB playbook.

"I was watching Major League Baseball this past weekend. And I got an idea that you may have seen, these teams have been filling their empty stands with cardboard cutouts of fans," O'Brien explained. "When I heard that idea, I thought, 'That's not going to work,' but it actually looks pretty good. People are OK with it. So I asked my crew to bring me whatever cardboard cutouts they could find in storage at our Warner Brothers studio, just random cardboard cutouts."

Directing the cameras to the rows of empty seats before him, O'Brien illustrated what his crew was able to scrounge up from the prop department. Only a handful of cutouts could be seen, but all were well-known political and entertainment figures, including Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Different Strokes actor Conrad Bain and former FBI director James Comey, along with four separate cutouts of Kevin Hart.

He then revealed plans to have viewers send in their own photos to be turned into cardboard cutouts and placed in the theater's seats before introducing his first guest, Ted Lasso star, writer and executive producer Jason Sudeikis. Beyond discussing his Apple TV+ sports comedy, the former Saturday Night Live castmember and Horrible Bosses star opened up about using the lockdown to introduce his son, Otis, to the Star Wars films.

The comedian and actor shared that he had begun with The Phantom Menace, and the two are now "working through" the rest of the films — seemingly chronologically instead of by release date — with The Empire Strikes Back the next in the queue. While Sudeikis noted that he was only sticking to the Skywalker saga and hadn't yet begun screening other projects in the universe, including The Mandalorian, he said the experience of watching the films during this political moment has been eye-opening as a parent.

"It's been a super fun way, and very interesting way — and I'm sure numerous people know this — to teach good and evil to your kids," Sudeikis said.  "Just how much they care. To have your little boy like sit there and watch Anakin Skywalker get more and more angry, as you know, this Palpatine dude is like whispering things in his ear."

Sudeikis then shared how rewatching the Star Wars films has also impacted him in the context of this political moment. "I'm watching it with the eyes of like what's going on in the news today," he said. "I'm like, 'Oh yeah, no Palpatine is a son of a bitch, he would absolutely be getting rid of mailboxes right now.'"

Watch the full segment below.