Binge Bytes: ‘Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend’


Ashlyn Cary

“Cereal is no longer an unhealthy bowl of sugar and milk, but a delicious reward that I have earned by being alive.” (Design by Ashlyn Cary | Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Arielle Gulley, Arts Writer

Typically we turn to music when we are drowning in silence and in need of some noise to keep us from going insane. Unfortunately for us, new music can be hard to find, and there are only so many times you can listen to one playlist until you can’t take it any longer. Lucky for us, podcasts exist for these very reasons. Even more fortunately, Conan O’Brien has taken on more work on top of his gig hosting his popular late-night show and recently delved into the world of podcasts. O’Brien created “Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend” in October 2018, and new shows are released every week

The show is hosted by O’Brien, his assistant Sona Movsesian and Matt Gourley. Every episode O’Brien brings on a friend of his as a guest star — typically a well known comedian, actor or politician — and they talk for hours about anything and everything Conan can probe them on. The conversation flows incredibly well and listening to the show is captivating — something not easily achieved by most podcasts. The voices are animated and comforting enough that it almost feels as if you’re in the room, sitting in the chair next to O’Brien. He has such a huge personality, yet in no way does he outshine his guests. Coming to his guests as a friend, O’Brien is able to reach them on a level that is unachievable otherwise. Each guest opens up and shares themselves and their stories with O’Brien and the listener. I loved hearing these genuine interactions.

As someone who is a fan of O’Brien, I find the back-and-forth between him and his guests humorous, and it’s entertaining to see well-known comedians and actors step outside of their typical role of “celebrity in front of an audience” and instead have an authentic sit-down with a friend. He gets to have light hearted conversations with people he values without an audience or a clip of their newly released movie being promoted. It’s a more intimate setting, and it allows for a glimpse into their lives and friendships. O’Brien is an excellent interviewer and storyteller, and it shows on this series especially. The show is just their voices, with no theatrics or skits —  yet the podcast is still so entertaining. It’s a perfectly toned down version of his late night show. 


To Binge or Not to Binge?

“Conan O’Brien Needs A Friend” is a great listen. It had me laughing out loud at parts and kept me engaged with every episode I listened to. The show is perfect for a Sunday afternoon while you’re cooking in the kitchen, the commute to work or even when you’re waiting at the bus stop. It made my time go by, and I felt like I was actively participating with the stories being told and experiences shared by different comics. While I don’t necessarily think it’s a podcast where once you start you simply cannot stop listening, I do think it’s a great listen. I recommend it for anyone needing a new podcast or wanting something humorous and easy to listen to. 


Best Episode

This is a tough one because I have yet to listen to an episode I didn’t thoroughly enjoy. I loved”Episode 43: Zach Galifianakis.” He’s a comedian whose quick wit and ability to make the audience just as uncomfortable as they are entertained is something I’ve always appreciated. While he’s known for his outlandish and inappropriate comments, the audience gets a completely different look into his persona and character compared to his normal interviews. I had no clue how genuine or relatable he was until this interview, and I appreciated the look into his personality, not simply the persona he turns on when he’s performing. 

This is a running theme in the show. Conan is able to make his guests comfortable since they’re people he’s already built friendships with. The guests are comfortable enough that you’re really hearing an honest conversation between friends instead of a stiff interview with a celebrity about a new project or event. It’s pretty refreshing. I would pick someone whose work you enjoy and take a listen to their episode and you’ll get a peek into their friendship with Conan. Guests on the show range from the likes of Adam Sandler to Michelle Obama.  


Similar Shows

“Armchair Expert,” “The Joe Rogan Experience,” “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah,” “Never Not Funny,” “Bill Burr’s Monday Morning Podcast” and “WTF with Marc Maron”  


Trigger Warnings

Occasional strong language. 


 5 out of 5 stars

“Conan Needs a Friend”

Available to stream at Stitcher, Apple Podcasts, Spotify and other platforms.

45 episodes (released weekly), 60 minutes average episode length.


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