With former Tonight Show host Conan O’Brien still legally prohibited from being funny on television, TBS has done the next best thing by giving Coco’s writers and sidekick Andy Richter an hour-long special to showcase their comedic stylings. When we caught up with Richter 10 days before Team Coco Presents: Conan’s Writers Live taped at this month’s Just for Laughs festival in Chicago, he was still on the road with O’Brien and admitted he had no idea what the writers were planning. “I doubt you’re gonna see a lot of cutting political satire,” he said. “You’ll probably just see more ‘odd men acting oddly.’” Let’s see what other questions Andy couldn’t answer!
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: You’ve said the special [which premieres June 27, 10 p.m. ET on TBS] will give us a taste of what we can expect when Conan’s late-night show debuts on TBS in November. What will the new show taste like?
ANDY RICHTER: I don’t know. We’ve been out on this tour the last couple of months, so we haven’t been really thinking about the show we’re gonna put on in November; we’ve been thinking about the show we’re doing right now. Whatever we’re gonna do on the TBS show, it’s not gonna be a huge surprise. It’s not gonna end up being all hip-hop cooking demonstrations. There’s gonna be some jokes. There’s gonna be a desk. There’s gonna be me sometimes not paying very close attention to what’s going on and getting caught.
Your special airs right after Ellen’s Somewhat Special Special, which, according to the press release, includes a magician, a “vertical-pole performer,” and the Japanese group Kabuki Expert performing their viral-video sensation Matrix Ping Pong. How will you compete with that?
I’ll just admit defeat right now. I don’t even know what Matrix Ping Pong is, so how could I begin to combat it? And quite frankly, I’m just the emcee of this thing. I just have to show up and be charming for two or three minutes at a time, and I can pull that off…. And why do you writers always have to make everything a competition?
Like you know anything about that. [Richter laughs] What has been your favorite memory of the tour [which wrapped June 14]. I was at Radio City the night Stephen Colbert challenged Conan to a dance-off, and you shot Jon Stewart. That has to be up there.
That was definitely one of the highlights. There’s been some really good musical guests: Eddie Vedder and Mike McCready, the guitarist from Pearl Jam, played in Seattle, and that was pretty awesome. In Chicago, we had Lil’ Ed, who’s a blues guitarist. Also, for the first part of the tour, we had a chartered plane, and that was pretty nice, flying on a private jet.
Describe the experience of flying on a private jet with the Conan crew?
You know, it was a lot of snacking, a lot of joking, a lot of teasing. There were some late-night flights, and Conan doesn’t sleep well, so it was taking turns just listening to him. We’d each swap off holding his hand, reassuring him.
And at what point did that turn into Conan eating Doritos on the tour bus and watching Team America: World Police?
When we got to the East Coast. Everything was too close. But you know, when you’re going from Spokane, Washington to Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, it’s better to take a plane than to drive the bus.
Last question: Is your deal for hosting a revamped Pyramid done, and how do you plan on balancing that with the TBS show this fall?
Well, I am shooting a pilot, so now it’s mine to screw up. If it gets picked up, we’ll just make it fit. The TBS show will be four days a week. On Fridays, they show movies on TBS. So I have Fridays. They say with these game shows, you can get to the point where you’re making five a day, and I would like to get to that point pretty quickly. It’s good to keep ‘em fast-paced. Don’t let the audience get tired, just run through ‘em and try to do ‘em in real-time. I’m looking forward to it. I think it’ll be a lot of fun.
Are you talking to anyone who’s hosted it before for advice?
No, but that’s probably not a bad idea. I’m gonna look up Wink Martindale.