President Conan Kills Dude's Future
January 13, 2010 7:34 AM   Subscribe

What's the name of the "This American Life" episode where a guy gets blackballed from the Harvard Lampoon -- despite the fact that all the members liked him -- because the president (Conan O'Brien) didn't think he was funny?
posted by elvissinatra to Media & Arts (15 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Nothing turned up after extensive googling and surfing through TAL's site. Are you sure this was TAL?
posted by spamguy at 9:21 AM on January 13, 2010

90% sure. I suppose it might've been Re:sound or something like that, but I'm pretty sure it was TAL. I don't think this was the main point of the segment...more like the set up to why this dude didn't make it as a comedian...or something. I can't actually remember much about it, which is why I wanted to look it up and hear it again. All I really remember is that Conan came across like an enormous dink, and I wanted to be able to offer that story as a balance to all of the senseless eulogizing that's been going on recently.
posted by elvissinatra at 9:31 AM on January 13, 2010

Maybe it could have been The Moth. I also searched through the TAL archive, and if anything it may have been some tangential mention.

So just because Conan was supposedly an enormous dink to one person -- according to that one person -- approximately 25 years ago, he doesn't deserve to be treated decently in a contractual dispute that involved him planning this move for six years and uprooting his entire family to move to the other side of the country?
posted by Madamina at 9:42 AM on January 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

I am 99% sure this wasn't TAL. There was a similar type of story about the writers roundtable at The Onion in the episode "Tough Room" that you may be conflating with this Conan story.
posted by muscat at 9:51 AM on January 13, 2010

Oh, sorry, missed that from the followup, because it was tl;dr.

I knew both Conan and Jeff Zucker (NBC head honcho, for values of "head honcho" that make the captain of the Titanic look like Chesley Sullenberger) slightly in college.

I don't know if they knew each other, but I can testify that they both acted like dinks on occasion. I, too, was quite often an enormous dink because a) we were kids, and b) we were all at a fancy school under a ton of academic pressure and with vast senses of entitlement. The idea that people are still nourishing grudges from 25 years ago is hilarious.

It's pretty clear to me which of these gentlemen is acting like a dink now, and which of them is behaving professionally.
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:30 AM on January 13, 2010

No, no, no, people. I love Conan. This was just a great, funny story that highlighted another aspect of his character. And isn't being a bit of a dink part of his whole thing anway?
posted by elvissinatra at 10:32 AM on January 13, 2010

However, if you want some Conan-in-college schadenfreude, Sandra Bernhard dissed him on the David Letterman show after she got the Harvard Lampoon's "Woman of the Year" award in 1983--she told Dave that she went to Harvard and got the award and was fawned over by "a skinny red-haired freak" IIRC.

Does that make you feel better?
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:34 AM on January 13, 2010

This isn't what you were asking for, but I just read this piece today that mentioned how Jeff Zucker actually got Conan arrested because Conan pulled a prank on the newspaper Zucker worked for at Harvard.
posted by ishotjr at 10:52 AM on January 13, 2010

I'm also sure it's wasn't TAL. I've heard a good portion of them, and the only episode it remember is one where someone pretends to be someone from National Lampoon by using his name. Which is pretty distant from Conan or Harvard Lampoon.

And yeah, he's probably a dink.
posted by Napierzaza at 11:36 AM on January 13, 2010

Oh, man. I know exactly the story you're talking about. I heard around 2004-05. I would have sworn it was on TAL, but I'm having a hard time finding a reference to it. Sorry! But at least you're not the only one who remembers this...
posted by BundleOfHers at 3:53 PM on January 13, 2010

I know the story, too! But I feel like I remember reading it instead of watching it. And the article being called something like, "Conan O'Brien Ruined My Life" or "Go to Hell, Conan O"Brien" or something like that. I will keep googling because now this is driving me crazy, too, but in light of recent events it's like finding a needle in a haystack.
posted by buzzkillington at 10:49 PM on January 14, 2010

Thank you, BundleOfHers and buzzkillington. I was starting to feel like I had made the whole thing up. My wife remembered it too, and she has a much better memory than I do, and she remembered it being on TAL too.

I know we were listening to WBEZ, driving down Lincoln toward Trader Joe's, on what must've been a Saturday afternoon... I think my kid was in the car, which would've been after 2006, but he still let me control the radio which means he was less than 2. So I'm thinking it had to be 2007 or 2008. Could've been a rerun though...or I might be wrong about my kid being in the car...
posted by elvissinatra at 12:46 PM on January 15, 2010

Found it! (I think.)

The Theory Of Everything ep. 13.
Create a free account on the PRX site (or login bugmenot/bugmenot) to download it.

posted by lodev at 12:25 PM on January 25, 2010 [3 favorites]

That's it! Woo hoo. Thanks so much, lodev!

According to this, it aired on Apr 30, 2005 at 08:00 PM. That does not jibe with my recollection at all, but this is totally it. Huh.

Awesome. AskMe works!
posted by elvissinatra at 3:03 PM on January 25, 2010

FYI: the segment starts at 15:30.
posted by elvissinatra at 3:08 PM on January 25, 2010

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