What should Conan O'Brien do next?

He could accept NBC's midnight slot. But we have more exciting aspirations for the late-night funnyman

By Judy Berman
Published January 8, 2010 3:09PM (EST)

Thursday afternoon, word spread like wildfire that, come February, Jay Leno would be resuming his 11:30 time slot on NBC. Later, when the network issued a statement insisting (albeit vaguely) that they were "committed to keeping Conan O'Brien on NBC" and consensus seemed to form that a half-hour Leno show would bump O'Brien to midnight, we remained skeptical of the plan. Why, we wondered, would someone with Conan's talent and appeal continue to play second banana to the likes of Leno?

And that's when we realized that, regardless of what happens with his show and Leno's, Conan needs a new gig. With that in mind, we asked our crack team of Open Salon  critics, "What should Conan do next?" Check out our favorite responses below -- and add your own to the Comments section.

Conan should go back to writing for "The Simpsons" and help restore it to its glory days of the early '90s, when he wrote such classic episodes as "Marge vs. the Monorail" and "Homer Goes to College."
-- Travis D'arby

I have always loved the chemistry between Conan and Martha Stewart. They need to join forces and create a joint show.
--Twisted Willows

He could finally work on promoting sunscreen as a must for all us uber-white, often pasty , redheads. The campaign could be all about laughter while you're laying it on thick! He could be the face of skin cancer prevention... it's a position, I believe, that no one currently holds.

He should take advantage of name and fame to open a chain of Conan O'Brien's Restaurants -- a Barbarian/Irish fusion cuisine and unique dining adventure. Chefs with swords and shields slaughter beasts while the diners watch, and then cook them on a spit over an open fire. Irish troubadours sing the old songs while guests eat with their hands and drink mead. A potato side with every entree, of course. A sure hit in Boston, but will it play in Peoria?
--Paul J. O'Rourke

Do a season of "The Surreal Life" with Arsenio Hall, Alan Thicke, Joan Rivers, Magic Johnson, Craig Kilborn, Keenen Ivory Wayans, and Chevy Chase.
--Dennis Knight

Conan loves Kelly Ripa. Regis has to retire sometime, right? "Live with Conan and Kelly." Just has that special special ring to it, eh?

Once Ellen's sick of Simon and "American Idol," Conan can take her place. Until then, I believe he'd be a shoo in with his own cooking show, "Irish Catholic Cooking With Conan," and as a TV adman for Ford since he has a such a special relationship with his Taurus SHO.
--Aunt Mabel

He should write and guest host for Letterman. Merge the older and younger demos to really kick Jay's ass. Plus, we'd still have Triumph the Insult Comic Dog. Or... "Conan and Kate Plus Late"?
--Sally Swift

Honestly, Conan will be just fine. He has a large following by the 20-something group. Putting him in that time slot was a mistake (in Colorado, it comes on at 10:30). So I really don't care what he does or Leno. I have another solution. I'm tired of late night shows being completely owned by males. Forget Conan and O'Brien. Let them take Wanda Sykes' time slot on Fox on Saturday nights and give Wanda the primetime slot on NBC. It would be about damn time.

Judy Berman

Judy Berman is a writer and editor in Brooklyn. She is a regular contributor to Salon's Broadsheet.

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