The results of O’Brien’s sojourn to the war-torn country, believed to have commenced on Sunday, are slated for broadcast on Time Warner’s TBS on Tuesday, November 10, at 11 p.m. and will be available a day later across digital and mobile venues operated by the network and O’Brien’s Team Coco outlets. Sona Movsesian, O’Brien’s longtime assistant who is of Armenian descent, has joined him. The visit is a first to the country for both and O’Brien’s broadcast will be the first by a host of an American late-night show from the nation.
“I think it’s every boss’s responsibility to take their assistant back to their ancestral land,” said O’Brien, in a statement provided by a spokesperson. “That’s why I’m going to make sure my next assistant was born in a five-star resort in Tuscany.” At an “upfront” presentation last May, executives from Turner Broadcasting, parent of TBS, said O’Brien was planning to do a series of road-trip specials, meaning this Armenia excursion is likely to offer a taste of things to come.
O’Brien trades in laughs, but his trips – this will be the third he has made this year – are not always something to joke about. O’Brien in February traveled to Cuba in an effort that was known to only a handful of people outside of his staff, and almost ran into a problem when his team tried to navigate through security on the island nation, which at the time was working to re-establish diplomatic ties with the United States.
The expedition also comes as TV’s late-night has become exponentially more competitive, prompting a bevy of well-known hosts to shake up their routines. Over the last two years, Jay Leno, David Letterman, Jon Stewart, Chelsea Handler, and Craig Ferguson have all stepped down from their desks, while Stephen Colbert, James Corden, Jimmy Fallon and Seth Meyers have stepped into new jobs. Samantha Bee is expected to launch a program in January on TBS that will be paired with “Conan.” That shuffle has left O’Brien, who has hosted a late-night program with only one interruption since 1993, as a sort of elder statesman for the genre – and he has expressed a desire to experiment with the boundaries of the format.
“I still love the form, but in a world where there are more and more and more and more shows, there actually is an impetus to — all right, I want to keep changing,” he told a group of reporters last March. “I want to do something radically different than I would have done 10 years ago.”
His trips to Comic-Con in San Diego and Cuba were unscripted. O’Brien said in his March remarks that he thinks viewers get laughs out of seeing him play the “fish out of water” and trying to understand a new locale and the people who inhabit it.
An average of around 1.81 million people watched an original broadcast of the Cuba special, “Conan in Cuba,” and a rebroadcast that immediately followed, according to data from Nielsen. A night earlier, an average of 642,000 viewers tuned into O’Brien’s regular late-night program.