Andy Richter on Conan, the Masturbating Bear and the Possibility of a Jay Leno Superbowl Ad

ConanAndyRichter500.jpgAfter ten months, one continent-sweeping comedy tour and one homoerotic cameo on Running Wilde, Andy Richter returns to the late night format tonight during Conan O'Brien's eagerly anticipated cable debut on Conan. In anticipation of the premiere, Andy Richter dialed Movieline last Friday to discuss the metamorphosis of his on-air relationship with O'Brien, the scathing Late Night reviews he is just now discovering and the man who threw a wrench in his and O'Brien's Tonight Show game, Jay Leno.

Hey Andy! I'm excited for you guys to finally be back on the air.

Thanks, it's going to be fun.

How did your test shows go this week?

They went great. They were very loose and fun and Thursday we did one that was really great. It felt like, "Geez, we might as well be putting these on the air by now. Let's get this shit on the road."

Did TBS have any notes for you based on those test shows or do you guys pretty much have free reign over the content of Conan?

None that I have heard. I don't think so. We always sort of got the impression that they felt like we knew what we were doing. The only thing that they have had notes on is promotional things. As far as the actual content of the show goes, they don't say anything.

Since you aren't burdened now by the restrictions of a 11:35 network time slot, do you anticipate returning to some of the racier content found during your Late Night era? Did you have material that you couldn't really use for The Tonight Show that you are finally able to use now?

You have to understand that when you are doing a show like this, you don't come up with a bunch of ideas that you can't use. You know what I mean? You don't go to a lot of trouble to produce something and put something on the air that you don't think is going to be appropriate. Because it's a fairly self-regulating machine. We are not kids. We are not trying to mess with the man or anything. We know what is appropriate. So no, not really. Maybe there is some stuff that the writers had stockpiled. For some reason it did not seem funny at the time and now it seems funnier. That could be but there is no official policy.

There was a lot of legal confusion surrounding the custody battle for the Masturbating Bear and Triumph the Insult Comic Dog. Do you think there is any chance viewers will see either on Conan this week?

I don't know, but there is a chance that you'll see them in the future. Conan recently, in an interview, made some kind of joke like, "Well, I have to have my Masturbating Bear!" He said it as a joke and of course it came out in the press as "Conan Dares NBC to Sue Him!" The same thing happened to me. Someone asked me how I felt about Jay Leno's demographics being less than ours [at the Tonight Show] and I said, "Enh, it's kind of fun. I don't wish ill on anyone but it's kind of vindicating." And of course that translated in headlines as "Andy Richter Vindicating Revenge!" So, you can't say anything really. [Editor's note: No, apparently not.]


ConanAndyRichter500.jpgThere has been so much press surrounding every stage of your and Conan's post-Tonight Show careers. How much attention will you pay to the coverage and reviews this week?

I will be more aware of it by osmosis just because a lot of people around here read them and I will probably read some of them but I don't seek them out. In fact I am reading Bill Carter's book [The War For Late Night] right now and I'm on the part where we were starting Late Night back in '93 and I never realized how blistering some of those reviews were! There was one from Tom Shales that I don't remember reading. I think at the time, I thought, "Enh, I think we are doing a funny show. What does some TV writer mean to me? Why should I think he knows any better than I do?"

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