Conan O'Brien took a lot of questions at the Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour, where NBC announced he'll exit his show Feb. 20, and Jimmy Fallon will take over March 2. (O'Brien has long been scheduled to take over The Tonight Show June 1, three days after Jay Leno's sign off, with the first airing of Leno's new 10 pm show to be determined.) Beyond that scheduling news, we had a choice: Run a long news story, or some of O'Brien's jokes.
You're welcome. Here are O'Brien's thoughts on ...
The studio where he'll record The Tonight Show: "It was Jack Benny's studio, I think, in the early '60s. It was the original Knight Rider studio. But I prefer to think of it as the Jack Benny studio."
Leno's move to 10 pm: "A few people asked me, does this in any way diminish The Tonight Show? And my response is, I don't need any help diminishing The Tonight Show."
Whether he'll have to clean up his jokes for The Tonight Show: "I think a lot of people in this room, probably when I first got the Emmys, said, well geez, how's that gonna go? That's in prime time, and this guy does very strange stuff, some of it's dirty, and he's got a masturbating bear... not on the show, it's a friend of mine."
Whether the band will stay with him: "We don't know how to get in touch with them. They're an odd group."
Craig Ferguson's suggestion that critics give Fallon a month before reviewing his show: "I would have loved that deal. I would have extended it beyond a month, myself. I'd have said look, from '93 to '95, let's just have a cool-down period, everybody. And then we'll look at the show."
His advice to Fallon: "My advice to Jimmy has been get people around you who will be honest with you. ... I have people who tell me: That wasn't great. That looked awkward. You shouldn't have taken your pants off."
Whether he'll change his opening: "You mean all the jumping around and acting like an ass?"
Going Hollywood: "I could never go Hollywood. I'm genetically engineered to live in a bog in Northern Ireland."
... And finally, two serious thoughts about:
Competing with David Letterman: "Lorne (Michaels) is a smart guy and he's very observant and he said, The funny thing about you Conan, I've known you for a long time, is that you aren't competitive with other people. You're fiercely competitive with yourself. It's true. ... There are some people that actually are better when they're trying to look at somebody else and beat them. In comedy that never did it for me. ... If I can achieve a fraction of what David Letterman's achieved in this medium, I'll die a happy man. He's the reason a lot of us are here. ... I'll always be in awe of that man."
Moving on: "I will cry like a baby when Late Night with Conan O'Brien ends."