Conan Christopher O'Brien (born April 18, 1963 at 1:38 a.m.) is an American comedian. He has been host of the television program Late Night with Conan O'Brien on the NBC network since 1993.
O'Brien was born in Brookline, Massachusetts, a suburb of Boston. He is the third of six children and one of four boys. His father, Tom O'Brien, is a doctor who was a professor at Harvard University, and his mother, Ruth O'Brien, is a former well-known lawyer. He is a cousin through marriage of Denis Leary.
On January 12, 2002, O'Brien married Liza Powell. The two have one daughter, Neve, born on October 14, 2003 in New York City.
After graduating from Brookline High School, O'Brien entered Harvard University. During each of the four years he attended the school, he was a writer for the prestigious Harvard Lampoon humor magazine. During his junior and senior years, O'Brien served as the Lampoon's president, making him only the second person ever to serve as president twice, and the first person to have done it in 85 years. He graduated magna cum laude from Harvard in 1985 with a B.A. in American History.
O'Brien moved to Los Angeles upon graduation to join the writing staff of HBO's Not Necessarily the News. He spent two years with that show, and performed regularly with improvisational groups like The Groundlings. He also acted in corporate infomercials to earn money during this period.
After Not Necessarily the News, O'Brien worked as the warm-up comic for the Wilton North Report, a Fox show that was on the air for just four weeks. O'Brien then moved on to the Happy Happy Good Show, a stage show being put on in Chicago at the time.
In January 1988 Saturday Night Live's executive producer Lorne Michaels hired O'Brien as a writer. During his three-and-a-half years on SNL he wrote such recurring sketches as "Mr. Short-Term Memory" and "The Girl Watchers", the latter of which was first performed by Tom Hanks and Jon Lovitz. Additionally, O'Brien wrote the sketch "Nude Beach", which became famous due to the fact that the word "penis" appeared in it no less than 42 times, much of it in the form of song. He also appeared as an extra in some skits, occasionally with a speaking role. In 1989, he and the other SNL writers were awarded an Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing in a Comedy or Variety Series.
In the spring of 1991, O'Brien left SNL to write and produce a pilot for the TV show Lookwell, starring Adam West. It was broadcast on NBC in July but was not picked up as a series. That fall O'Brien signed on as a writer and producer for the Fox series The Simpsons, where he also became a supervising producer. In a speech he gave at Harvard on Class Day in 2000, O'Brien credited The Simpsons with "saving" him, a reference to the career slump he was experiencing prior to his hiring for that show Of the episodes he wrote while there, he considers "Marge vs. the Monorail" to be his favorite.
On April 26, 1993, Lorne Michaels chose Conan to be the new host of Late Night with David Letterman, and the show's name was changed to Late Night with Conan O'Brien. It was quickly received with unfavorable criticism, something that continued for 2-3 years after its debut.
Since then, however, O'Brien and the Late Night writing team have consistently been nominated for an Emmy Award for Best Writing in a Comedy or Variety Series, though they have not as of yet won. In 1997, 2000, 2002, and 2003, he and the Late Night writing staff won the Writers Guild Award for Best Writing in a Comedy/Variety Series.
In addition, O'Brien currently heads Conaco, a production partnership with NBC to develop programming for the network. Its first venture, the reality show Lost, debuted in fall of 2001.