Following last year’s unprecedented late-night trips to Cuba and Armenia, Conan O’Brien was at it again Monday, airing an hour-long special episode of his TBS show that chronicled a trip he made to Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar last November alongside First Lady Michelle Obama as part of her Joining Forces initiative.
With Grace Potter as his musical guest along with comedians Laurie Kilmartin, Brian Kiley, and John Mulaney, O’Brien performed an unconventional stand-up set for the troops stationed at the base, including riffs on enforced alcohol limits for soldiers and his disastrous decision to forgo a room at the St. Regis hotel. “I said no, I want to live on the base,” he said. “That’s what I said, because I’m a fucking idiot, that’s why.”
Because O’Brien’s crew was not allowed to film on the flight to Qatar, he opted to share the experience with his audience using the next best thing: “state-of-the-art, incredibly expensive 3D animation.” Once on the ground in the Middle East, the host also underwent some K9 unit training and tried on a bomb protection suit that made him 100 pounds heavier. “This suit is called the Chris Christie,” he joked.
It wasn’t until about midway through the episode that First Lady Michelle Obama finally met O’Brien, who was appropriately dressed for “yard work,” face-to-face on screen. Obama told the host why she has decided to “shine a light” on both active servicemembers and veterans. “Once you connect, you don’t want to let go,” she said, adding that you don’t have to be first lady or “one of the funniest men on the planet” to get involved.
In previous TV appearances, FLOTUS has done push-ups with Ellen DeGeneres and Jimmy Fallon. But for some reason, she made O’Brien attempt 50 push-ups all on his own, promising they could “fade to black” if he wasn’t up to the challenge.
Once O’Brien finally took the stage in front of the troops, his monologue was full of inside jokes aimed directly at the soldiers in attendance. Employing the military’s overuse of acronyms, he declared, “I’m AWOL from TBS for R&R and I’m DTF.”