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Joy Saha

O'Brien is on "Hot Ones" season finale

The season 23 finale of “Hot Ones” featured not one, but two talk show hosts indulging in a platter of spicy hot chicken wings. Conan O'Brien — whose eponymous travel series, “Conan O'Brien Must Go,” will be released next week — sat down with Sean Evans to reveal the worst thing that a talk show guest can say during an interview along with which US president he’d like to interview on his podcast. 

The retired late-night talk show host admittedly didn’t grow up eating much spicy food, but he still handled the heat like a champ. At one point, O'Brien drank some of the sauces straight out of the bottle and even brought out his “very inexpensive” personal doctor Dr. Arroyo to check his body temperature.

O'Brien is best known for having hosted late-night talk shows for almost 28 years, beginning with “Late Night with Conan O'Brien” (1993–2009), followed by “The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien” (2009–2010) on NBC and “Conan” (2010–2021) on TBS. O'Brien previously worked as a writer for “Saturday Night Live” from 1988 to 1991, and “The Simpsons” from 1991 to 1993. He currently hosts the comedy podcast series “Conan O'Brien Needs a Friend,” which debuted in November 2018.    

When asked if talk show hosts actually converse with their guests during commercial breaks, O'Brien said it all depends on the host: “In the old days — back in the days when I was doing it and it was just a couple of us — oftentimes it wasn’t much chat, really not much at all. If you were talking to a Letterman, he wouldn’t say too much…I always tried to make something happen. I tried to keep the rhythm going. And sometimes if I couldn’t get them interested, I’d try to say something provocative like ‘I bet you live four years tops’ and you can see them get a bit rattled.”

“I remember I said that to Bea Arthur and I was right,” O'Brien added.

O'Brien then took a moment to commend Evans and his interview style, saying “You are a very serious interviewer, you take it seriously and you ask really good questions. I’m very impressed with your dedication to it.”

Elsewhere in the episode, Evans wanted to know the worst thing a guest can do while being interviewed on a talk show, to which O'Brien answered, “Tell the audience it’s not going well.” 

“I’ve seen it happen many times. It’s an amateur move because the host can do a lot to let people think it’s going great, even if it’s not,” he continued. “There are many things the host can do. The host can be enjoying. The host can act a little bit.

“Audiences want to see a good show, they want to see a good interview. And I was always amazed when someone would come out and they’d be doing OK… and then they would just go, ‘This just isn’t going well is it?’ I’d look out at the audience and it'd be 200 people sitting there and I’d see 200 souls leave 200 bodies because they were just told they were not getting a good show. That’s not show business.”

O'Brien, who frequently featured animal experts on “Conan,” also recalled his most harrowing experience with wildlife. It involved O'Brien getting on the back of a water buffalo, per the request of one of his producers. The water buffalo “freaked” out when O'Brien was sitting on it and “tossed” him into the air before O'Brien fell and landed on his hip on the cement floor. “I had a hematoma on my hip that was so big I couldn’t get my jeans on or off,” O'Brien said.

Before taking on the wings of death, O'Brien shared which president he thinks would make a great guest on his podcast: “Richard Nixon — oh my god, it’d be fantastic! He’s such a comedy figure when you think about it and we could get him to Watergate.”

O'Brien also isn’t opposed to interviewing Abraham Lincoln because he’s got a great voice.

Watch the full episode below, via YouTube:

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