Conan O’Brien said he was looking forward to “being on at a time when people can see me” when he replaces Jay Leno as host of the “Tonight” show in five years.
NBC announced last week that O’Brien, whose show airs at 12:35 a.m. Eastern, will move up an hour earlier when he takes over for Leno in 2009. The move by NBC — and endorsed by Leno — was to keep O’Brien from jumping to another network when his contract expired.
“My parents have no idea what I do for a living,” O’Brien joked Saturday night about his late, late gig. “They think I’m still in law school.”
O’Brien, who spoke at The New Yorker Festival, said he would likely leave New York, where his “Late Night” show is based, to Los Angeles, home of “Tonight.”
“We have time to figure it out,” he said.
O’Brien, 41, was twice the editor of the Harvard Lampoon, worked as a writer on “Saturday Night Live” for three and a half years and was the supervising producer of “The Simpsons.”
He debuted on “Late Night” in September 1993 after David Letterman moved to CBS for an earlier time slot when he was passed up for the “Tonight” show job.
After some initial struggling, O’Brien’s show attained success and came to dominate his time slot. Among its well-known features are “Triumph the Insult Comic Dog” and “In the Year 2000.” It reaches 2.5 million viewers a night.
O’Brien will become the fifth host of the 50-year-old “Tonight” show, following Leno, Johnny Carson, Jack Paar and Steve Allen. Leno has been the show’s host since 1992.