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<a name="010208"></a>Liveblogging Conan’s return

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12:37 — Conan with a beard. “Kinda weird,” my wife says. Perhaps a trim would make it work better.

12:39 — The crowd missed him. “I love you Conan,” one guy shouts. “Always the men,” Conan points out. “Never the ladies.”

12:40 — “With all the late night shows off the air, Americans have been forced to read books and occasionally even speak to one another, which has been horrifying,” Conan says. Ahh, if that were only true. Unless, by “reading books,” he means, “Watching ‘I Love New York 2,'” and by “speaking to one another,” he means, “TiVoing ‘The Hills’ so that you can try to convince your wife that it’s a fun show to watch together.” (Still trying on that one, BTW.)

12:40 — Conan gets much more forceful than Jay on the WGA issue: “I want to make this clear, I support their cause — these are very talented, very creative people who work extremely hard and I believe what they’re asking for is fair,” he says to applause.

12:41 — “Ladies and gentlemen, we’re going to start by talking about my beard. That’s right, I know this looks fake. It looks like it ties on in the back, but believe it or not I actually grew a beard. I never grew a beard in my entire life. I grew it out of solidarity for my writers, and to prove that I have some testosterone.

Truest statement of the night: “The biggest comment I’m getting the last couple of days is that I look like the character of Kris Kringle in ‘Santa Claus is Coming to Town.'” (See above; he’s right.)

12:42 — “Strike Beard Moment.” Holy crap, it really does look fake. I’d actually compare it to the fake beard Will Farrell used to wear when he was impersonating “Inside the Actors Studio” host James Lipton.

12:44 — Conan suggests a future episode: “One night I should list who’s on the show, I should throw to Max Weinberg and the Max Weinberg 7. You guys start playing some funky song and keep going for an hour. I start to freak out and bust out some classic Conan moves. The audience joins me, there’s nudity  and dancing.” I’m in!

12:45 — Conan dances. Ooh, it’s gonna be a long strike. The host agrees: “Nothing could end a strike faster!”

Latenight_002 12:46 — Exec producer Jeff Ross has a strike beard as well (left); it’s a distinguished salt-and-pepper. Conan says Ross looks like a beat poet.

12:47 — Conan kills time by drinking water. “You can’t write a moment like that.”

12:49 — During rehearsals, Conan spins his wedding ring on the desk. A producer usually times it on a lark; his best is 41 seconds. Now, thanks to the strike, that kind of rehearsal fun makes it to air. Sigh.

12:51 — 36 seconds. So close! “Do it again!” an audience member says. “Trust me, there’s time,” Conan responds.

12:52 — Video clip. Conan in his office, explaining what he’s been doing with the off time. Shows Christmas cards from Cheap Trick, Pee Wee Herman, Hugh Hefner. Shows memorabilia from his years on the air: A Conan action figure, a photo of him with Johnny Carson. A fan sent a bust of Conan carved in endangered coral. Walking the “Late Night” halls with his guitar. A room full of “Late Night” staffers playing “Rock Band.”

12:58 — The clip continues. But I gotta single out Conan’s impersonation of Edith Bunker performing the Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage.” Nice!

1:02 — Sadly, already dipping into the NBC talent well. “1 vs. 100” host Bob Saget. “I’m a Writers Guild member, I’m the member of six guilds,” Saget says. Then bombs.

Saget’s currently on Broadway, and just went through that strike as well.

1:04 — Saget catches himself before cursing. “And that is why I need writers.” Conan: “Don’t the writers come up with all of your curses?”

1:08 — Saget shot all of this season’s “1 vs. 100” episodes before the strike. Interesting that the strike is the constant topic on “Late Night,” while it wasn’t mentioned at all on “Tonight” beyond Leno’s monologue.

1:12 — Another wedding ring spin. 28 seconds this time.

1:16 — Promo for “American Gladiators,” this Sunday at 9 p.m. on NBC. Uh, any chance we can get this strike resolved by Sunday at 9 p.m. ET?

1:18 — Comedian Dwayne Perkins. The perils of texting. Can you send a smiley face to an acquaintance? The perils of the “N” word. If you’re white but singing along to a 50 Cent CD, can you say it?

Conan approves. “That was fantastic,” he whispers to Perkins. It actually was pretty good… maybe Conan, hampered by the strike, brings on comedians to handle the monologue on future shows?

1:29 — Rockabilly singer Robert Gordon and guitarist Chris Spedding do Elvis on their CD “It’s Now or Never.” Here, they perform “Devil in Disguise.” This gets me to thinking… Conan does a pretty mean Elvis. Perhaps a future performance on “Late Night”?

— Michael Schneider