Conan’s Illegitimate Children: 10 Stars & Their Late Night Beginnings


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O’Brien has had his fair share of celebrity guests stop by in his 20 years as a late night host. But who knew the real stars were the ones down the hall making copies or playing a tree in a sketch. Late Night With O’Brien was the comedy equivalent of a minor league ball club and was the scout who spotted them all. Here’s a select few who went from humble beginnings at , to stardom and comedy fame.

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Long before his days starring on the cult sketch comedy program, Mr. Show and his role as the fast talking lawyer Saul Goodman on the AMC show Breaking Bad, Bob Odenkirk was a writer during Conan’s first season. After working together on sketches for SNL and Second City, Conan had the foresight to bring Odenkirk along with him, helping create memorable sketches during the shows chaotic first season and even returning for bits once he left the show.

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2.  Louis CK

Louis CK is undoubtedly the biggest and most popular working comedian today with numerous Emmy wins and the respect and admiration of every working comic today. But you have to get your start somewhere, and C.K. got his start on Conan’s first season, even helping to write the shows first sketch. Here’s C.K. in a 1993 sketch that features shades of an early Triumph the Insult Comic Dog.

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3.  Amy Poehler

Late Night was known for it’s  rotating cast of characters who could pop by the desk or in the audience at what seemed like random times. One of these was a completely unknown Amy Poehler who appeared as ‘Andy Richters little sister’ before she even stepped on the stage at SNL. The over-the-top character didn’t shy away from sharing her obsession with Conan and his red-headedness. Just don’t ruin her fantasy if being with the late night host or the bubbly, friendly demeanor will turn into a demon straight from hell. The character was a huge hit with viewers and propelled her to SNL and super stardom.

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You may have thought Rob Riggle’s comedy break came from his brief stint at SNL or his work as a correspondent for but he originally appeared as various characters on Late Night over 20 times in the early 2000’s. Spotted by Conan himself while performing at the UCB, Riggle played characters like a security guard, guy in the audience, and as the real life Tarzan who can talk to pets. Go to 3:45 in the clip for Riggle.

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Smigel is known for his work as a writer for SNL and his later work on the show as the creator of ‘Saturday TV Fun House’ cartoons like the Ambiguously Gay Duo. As the first head writer on Late Night, Smigel created some of the shows staples like Triumph the Insult Comic Dog and having his lips superimposed over the picture of a famous person. Smigel still contributes to the show occasionally to this day.

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Most of you know him from another show on NBC’s where ha played Jim. But before he was flirting with Pam at the secretaries desk every day he was running around as an intern over on Late Night.

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Late Night must have been a scouting location for The Office because Ellie Kemper best known as Erin from The Office as well as different movies including 21 Jump Street was also an intern on the show who appeared in numerous sketches. She started the show in 2002 after graduating from Princeton. Here is her appearing in a sketch

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Mindy Kaling who got her first BIG break on (you guessed it) The Office and now has her own prime time show on Fox was also an intern on Conan. She visited the TBS show last year and reminisced with CoCo about her intern days.

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Mike Birbiglia is one of the funniest stand-ups working right now and has had multiple Comedy Central specials, CD’s and has recently found great success with different one man stage shows and even a movie. Before that though he was just one of the lowly interns over on Late Night with all of these other awesome names.

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10.

Jack McBrayer who got famous playing Kenneth The Page on NBC was known for appearing in sketches on the late night show. In his time there he appeared in over 80 sketches in his time there. He would usually play a southern hillbilly like character but check out this clip where he shows off his real acting chops playing a German!

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6 comments
RonsCigar
RonsCigar

Cool list, didn't know about the Co-Nan Comedy Tree

Maybrick
Maybrick

Bob Odenkirk sucks and is annoying as hell.

Mindy Kaling sucks royal dick. If you think she's funny you're an idiot.

And Who the FUCK is Mike Birbiglia?

The rest are good.   Robert Smigel being the best of the bunch.

Maybrick
Maybrick

Mindy Kaling fan are ya? LOL