Let’s get one thing straight. Conan’s one of my favorite people on the planet. So when I was one of the fortunate 14,000 who got tickets to see him tape in Chicago, I about lost my mind. I have been a Conan fan for about 15 years so it was definitely a dream come true. The day was such a big deal that I was painfully aware of every passing minute so I thought I’d transcribe it for you after the jump. Enjoy!
5:32 am – Wake up. Having trouble sleeping do to the excitement.
7:02 am – Finally get out of bed after staring at the ceiling for an hour and half.
7:50 am – Board the Red Line train. Start watching Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop on my phone.
8:40 am – See group of people waiting in a small line outside of Chicago Theater.
8:42 am – Realize that this a line for a vending machine for free Conan t-shirts. The line I need to wait in is around the corner and is THREE BLOCKS LONG!!
9:05 am – Alicia, the person with the ticket reservations, is running late as the line starts to move. The unthinkable fear of missing Conan’s show is becoming a reality. Panic sets in! ALL HOPE IS LOST!!!
9:24 am – People get their picture taken with “Conan.”
9:33 am – Alicia shows up. We get our tickets. Hope is restored.
9:50 am – Leave Chicago Theater to return later at 4:00pm for the taping.
10:12 am – Walking to work we see the 17 foot Conan Bobble Head getting ready to be moved to some undisclosed location…
10:35 am – Sitting at work…staring at my wristband…trying to concentrate on something besides Conan…failing.
12:47 pm – On lunch I see someone on the street with a Conan wristband. ”You going to the show later?” “Yes” “Cool, see you there.” An epic high five was exchanged and a new friendship formed.
2:03 pm – I get an important text message. ”CONAN BOBBLE HEAD OUTSIDE THE ART INSTITUTE OF CHICAGO!!”
2:05 pm – I run to the museum, regrettably knocking down a flock of old ladies. No time to stop and apologize.
2:07 pm – It’s more beautiful than I imagined….
3:17 pm – Time is not moving fast enough…
4:00 pm – FINALLY making my way back to the Chicago Theater. Continuing to hand out high fives to strangers.
4:13 pm – People wasting time with big, dumb TBS mascot thing outside of theater.
4:21 pm – Sitting in seat in the balcony. The stage set is stunning.
4:29 pm – The theater is packed!
4:35 pm -The Basic Cable Band starts up. They sound amazing. Mark ‘Love Man’ Pender and Richie ‘LaBamba’ Rosenberg both sing a song.
4:45 pm – Conan’s long time opener and host of the hilarious Pardo Patrol, Jimmy Pardo comes out! He goes over the rules and etiquette of the show, things like “don’t shout out during the taping because it’s lame and we’re all adults” and “no cell phones AT ALL! NO TEXTING, NO PHOTOS, NOTHING! GOT IT!?” Then he spends ten minutes making fun of an audience member named “Feilding.” It was great. Here’s a blurry photo:
5:01 pm – Conan comes out…crowd stands and cheers…a spiritual moment happens. The middle-aged women to my right starts crying. This is good. It makes me feel less self conscious about my own tears of joy.
5:07 pm – They show the video of the Bobble Head Conan going to the Art Institute. People cheer loudly for the museum! The skit is we turn down the Bobble Head and tell them to remove it. The crowd then boo’s the Art Institute. Oops.
5:10 pm – Conan puts on a Celtics jacket to antagonize the crowd. Scottie Pippen promptly comes out and rips it off without a word.
5:11 pm – They show the clip of the Bean full of beans being launched over the State Street Bridge. It’s fun to watch Conan watch these clips. He chuckles to himself in the dark. You can see he genuinely enjoys them and reacts right along with the crowd.
5:15 pm – We take a “Commercial Break.” The show isn’t shot live but keeps an almost-live pace. There are no second takes or do-overs today. During the break the band continues to play while Conan drinks water and hops around the stage to keep his energy up. The stage manager, Steve Hollander comes out to chat about the next segment. Conan throws the two halves of the torn Celtics jacket into the crowd.
5:19 pm – Conan plays the clip of Triumph the Insult Comic Dog going to the Wiener Circle. Conan is cracking up at it as much as the crowd. The woman from the video is sitting in the balcony not to far down from me.
5: 27 pm – They rearrange the set for the Adam Sandler interview. It’s impressive how quickly the stage hands move the big set pieces around. I snuck in a blurry photo:
5:35 pm – Adam Sandler comes out. He looks like a slob. His interview is fine, nothing special…
5:42 pm – Nick Offerman, a Chicago native, comes out and does a bit. The crowd goes nuts for Ron Swanson in the flesh.
5:50 pm – TJ Miller makes a mess of the stage when he tries to eat two italian beef sandwiches in one minute.
6:01 pm – Conan does his sign off with Andy. I don’t want the show to end….
6:05 pm – Conan gets his guitar. He takes his tie off and throws it into the crowd. A small but aggressive skirmish breaks out over who gets to keep the tie.
6:07 pm – Conan sings 40 Days with the the Basic Cable Band. He runs out into the crowd a few times. Everybody goes bonkers.
6:12 pm – Conan does a final, sweaty thank you and leaves the stage.
6:16 pm – People are just hanging out in the theater now, including myself. I guess they don’t want it to be over either.
6:22 pm – They start kicking us out because another show needs to start soon…
6:31 pm – We see a small group of people waiting around the south side of the building…so we decide to wait with them. We luck out! Andy Richter comes out to sign autographs and take pictures!! I get his autograph while Natasha and Alicia get a photo. Super nice guy.
6:35 pm – The fun continues. Just behind us we notice it’s Pender and LaBamba from the Basic Cable Band!! We get a few more pics and autographs and talk about their favorite things they did in Chicago. Pender thinks our city is great and LaBamba couldn’t get enough of some wing place…the name escapes me.
6:46 pm – I recognize Matt O’Brien (no relation to Conan.) He’s the writer in the Conan documentary that Conan hits in the arm all the time. I tell Matt that I get it, I’d let Conan punch me constantly too if it meant I could work on his show. He’s a really nice guy and we talk about New York and LA. He misses New York. I beg him to bring the show back to Chicago soon.
7:05 pm – Natasha dances with Tina Turner.
7:17 pm – We’re waiting with a giant crowd now because there’s a rumor Conan is coming out soon.
7:19 pm – Shake hands with Jordan Schlansky, associate producer, tell him thanks for coming. He says thanks for watching. Connection?
7:22 pm – Still waiting on Conan…
7:25 pm – I recognize Mike Sweeney, Conan’s head writer who’s been with the show since the beginning. We talk for a while about Chicago, his favorite pieces of art at the Art Institute, and how Conan doesn’t know anything about art. He’s a super nice guy.
7:38 pm – CONAN ARRIVES!!….but there’s like 200 people in between us. Mike and I yell for Conan but we get nothing. Mike starts telling me who everyone is around Conan.
7:41 pm – Conan get’s into a suburban and drives away. I ask Mike if they’re leaving tonight or tomorrow. He says they’re leaving tomorrow but he wishes it was tonight. I say thanks for the chat and he leaves. I’ll forever regret not asking “what are you all doing tonight” or “where you headed from here?”…I am dumb.
7:56 pm – Chat with other beaming Conan fans on the Red Line headed home. One of them had an old Conan the Barbarian comic book she wanted to get signed but couldn’t get close enough. Next time maybe. New friendships are formed.
The day was better than I hoped for. Thank you to all the people at Conan for coming to Chicago and doing such a great job. Come back ASAP!! From top left going clockwise you have Matt O’Brien, Andy Richter, LaBamba, Pender, and Mike Sweeney.