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Friday, May 16th, 2014

A Reunion and a New Sketch from 'Late Night with Conan's Writers

Well, the Paley Center has been temporarily closed due to repairs (it's reopened now) so instead of dipping into the archives, today we head over to the gross Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn to Littlefield, home of Scott Rogowsky's weekly live talk show "Running Late." On April 30th, 2014, his show hosted three former writers from Late Night with Conan O'Brien, Andy Blitz, Jon Glaser, and Brian McCann, to reminisce, watch some clips, and perform a new, original sketch for the audience gathered there that evening. Luckily, the cameras were rolling and these videos can be enjoyed by everyone, including the people who didn't walk past the world's most disgusting canal (Guys, seriously. It tested positive for gonorrhea.)

In this first clip, Scott's monologue is interrupted by a series of more and more ridiculous gunmen. This insane moment is a new original sketch from the trio, and serves as a nice little reminder of why we love their comedy: weird premises, strange logical arguments, and sandwiches.

Later in the show, the three guests are brought out. The three guys discuss how little they've seen one another since they've left the show, including a time when they saw each other at a restaurant, but didn't bother to say anything. Then, a character Glaser played on the show named Pubes is brought up, and Jon gets bummed out and wants to go home.

In Part 2 the writers reminisce on the early days of Late Night and how it was different from the iterations of the show that have come after it. McCann observes that when the show started, NBC was at the peak of their powers with shows like Friends and Seinfeld and as a result, didn't have any idea what was going on at 12:30. As a result, he seems to indicate that there can never really be another show like Conan's Late Night because the process is too closely monitored and monetized now. Plus, we get the dramatic origins of the FedEx Pope!

Next we hear how each of the guys made their way to Late Night, each through very different paths. We hear their first impressions of Conan when they met him, leading to a very surprising revelation about the man, and a close examination of Conan's style as a writer/rewriter/distractor of writers.

The guys then reminisced about the show's announcer Joel Goddard and what he's up to now (liking one of Andy Blitz's Facebook posts) and what it was like to write for someone like him who was up for anything. Also in this section, Brian McCann expertly deflects a question about the differences between writing for each iteration of Conan's shows as the only one to work at Late Night, The Tonight Show, and Conan. Finally, Jon Glaser tells a tale from the actual writer's room at Late Night involving a can of Diet Coke and a condom.

In the final part of the interview, Scott shows clips of a classic moment for each of the gentlemen on panel that evening. (The clips have been removed in the video embedded below, but can easily be found elsewhere online.) We see Andy Blitz's chanting character who tries to lead the audience along in an impossibly long sports chant. Andy reveals that he wouldn't use cue cards so the audience couldn't read ahead and would instead memorize them, a feat that he describes as being "more impressive than doing Death of a Salesman." We see a McCann character who has confronted his own shortcomings by constantly announcing them to everyone he meets. And finally, we see the Slipnutz opening for the band Slipknot, before saying goodnight to his guests.

Ramsey Ess is a freelance writer for television, podcaster and a guy on Twitter. His webseries "Ramsey Has a Time Machine" has a very self-explanatory title.