Kumail Nanjiani finally had his sit-down with Conan O’Brien, a little late, away from viewers’ eyes (but not their ears) and not a hard feeling to be found. Three nights after the Silicon Valley star had to last-minute-cancel his appearance on TBS’s Conan, Nanjiani joined O’Brien on the podcast Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend to explain what happened.
“You are famously a very nice guy,” O’Brien said at the start of the podcast conversation about the cancellation. “You are extremely hard working, you are punctual, this is not your MO at all. This was something that was out of your control.”
Nanjiani had been booked on the show to promote his new movie Stuber, but was in Marina del Rey taping HBO’s Silicon Valley when, well, let him tell it:
“I was shooting Silicon Valley, and they said they would have me out at a certain time. The details are, there was a scene we were shooting – I was going to be just in the last bit of the scene. They said we’ll shoot your bit of your scene and then you’d get out. As soon as we rehearsed, they said, ‘Even though you are only in the last page, you’re not going to be able to leave because of the way it is set up.’ And, they were right. There was no way they could really get me out.”
Nanjiani said he even asked friends, including Silicon Valley co-star Martin Starr, to fill in, but Conan had already decided to go it alone (or, more accurately, from within – after a lengthy monologue in which O’Brien explained the situation, the host interviewed his assistant Sona Movsesian).
“We were scrambling,” said O’Brien, who was in the make-up chair 25 minutes before airtime when producer Jeff Ross told him Nanjiani couldn’t make it. Teased O’Brien: “He said, ‘I think it’s drugs,’ and we all nodded as that’s Kumail’s MO, he’s probably wasted.”
“No,” O’Brien continued, “we were immediately thinking, what do we do? Instead of just finding someone else, let’s just have fun with the fact that we only have one guest on the show and that guest didn’t come. I’ll talk to my trusty assistant. So we ended up doing that.” As O’Brien noted, the show became “a little bit of a happening, and people really liked the show.”
Nanjiani said he stayed in touch with O’Brien’s team via text prior to the show, but didn’t watch until the following morning. “I started watching and 90 seconds in I started sweating,” the Silicon Valley actor said. He has not watched the entire episode yet, but liked what he saw.
“It was such a great show,” a disappointed Nanjiani said. “The best Conan I did was the one I didn’t do.”
Here is Conan’s tweet which links to the podcast. The discussion with Nanjiani about the no-show episode begins around the 9:53 mark.