A critical darling for years, O’Brien’s “Late Night” had never won an Emmy — until this year. The TV establishment’s validation comes as O’Brien draws ever closer to a planned 2009 takeover of “The Tonight Show” (assuming Jay Leno doesn’t find a way to hold on to the gig).
O’Brien is mostly ignoring the media drama over Leno and is instead focused on keeping his 12:30 show as fresh as ever. A well-received five-night stand in San Francisco showed O’Brien has completed the transformation from college cult figure and now ranks as a latenight icon in his own right. Now, if he’d only agree to host the Emmys again …
Point of view
O’Brien doesn’t think his comedy has changed that much over the years. Instead, he argues that his audience has evolved with him. “I’m the same person I always was,” he says. “My mantra in comedy has always been, ‘Don’t overthink it.’ I’m always looking for a funny idea that makes me laugh, that makes everyone in the room laugh. If you do that, it’ll probably make people laugh in the real world.”