Conan O’Brien Says ‘Conan Without Borders: Japan’ Is ‘Humiliating But Hilarious’
Conan O’Brien’s itinerary for his visit to the Land of the Rising Sun in Conan Without Borders: Japan wasn’t that of the typical tourist. “I wanted to avoid the tropes of Japan, like, ‘Oh, Conan sumos,'” the talk show host explains.
Instead, this hour will look at newer societal aspects like kawaii, the country’s cuteness culture (think: Hello Kitty). O’Brien dresses up in neon with blue hair for that segment. “I basically look like my mom on ecstasy,” he says with a laugh.
Since 2015, the comic has traveled with cameras in tow to Cuba, Italy, Israel and Haiti, among other places, for the Without Borders series. Destination No. 10, Japan, entered the running when his team discovered the existence of Conan Town, a locale named for an anime detective.
On an August episode of Conan, O’Brien started a faux feud with the mayor, demanding 3 trillion yen. “You don’t have to be a genius to see that somebody’s been making a lot of money off the Conan name,” he joked. The mayor responded with an invite, and a special was born.
Also on O’Brien’s to-do list in Japan: an etiquette lesson that is “absolutely humiliating but hilarious at the same time,” he teases, and a dinner with his food-connoisseur associate producer Jordan Schlansky.
But the weirdest thing O’Brien says he’s ever shot is his experience renting a family. “There are services for people who want companionship,” he explains. “I was intrigued by this, so I rented a wife, daughter and husband. I made my Japanese father apologize for things my father had done in the ’70s.”
Despite having a comedy tour, the new podcast Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend and Conan (back in January as a half-hour show) on his plate, the funnyman is happy to squeeze in the global tomfoolery. “People love watching me have fun,” O’Brien says. “And however much time I have left in this business doing what I do, I want to thoroughly enjoy it.”
Conan Without Borders: Japan, Wednesday, November 28, 10/9c, TBS