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Conan O'Brien Show: Interview with Chris Carter

Conan O’Brien Show
Interview with Chris Carter

(Prior to Chris’ appearance Heidi Klum had done a re-comb on Conan — using about a half a can of hairspray — which looked something like a Lyle Lovett…)

Conan: Nice to have you with us.

Chris: Thank you for having me.

Conan: Yeah, no problem. It’s a nice night to be here. Lovely ladies. My hair is looking crazy. It’s my tribute to Eraserhead tonight. I hope you enjoy it.

Chris: I appreciate that.

Conan: Let’s start off by saying — let’s talk about “X-Files” for just a second, because it’s such a landmark show, such a different show than, I think, any other show that had come before it and I would imagine that whenever you bring something new to a network they try and — well, especially Standards, they get scared. They’re afraid.

Chris: Right.

Conan: They have probably tried to stop you at certain times from putting certain things on the air. Do you have problems like that because you’re Chris Carter now? Can you win those battles?

Chris: There’s lots of nervousness about blood and gore and stuff, but Stephen King wrote an episode called Ching* and the Standards people were really upset about the title. They said, “That’s a bad word in Spanish, a bad slang word.” We argued and we argued and finally they wouldn’t let us use the word Ching*, they wouldn’t let us use the name Ching*, so, uh —

Conan: Stop saying that word. Our Standards lawyer is Spanish right now.

Chris: So we called the episode Bunghoney instead. [That’s how he pronounced it, folks!]

Conan: Seriously?

Chris: That means nothing in Spanish.

Conan: And that got through?!

Chris: That’s what the episode is called now.

Conan: That’s great, ’cause that’s very true. I don’t know if people know that, but the Standards lawyers often will object to one thing, you’ll put in something much worse and they’ll go, “Well, that’s better.” I don’t know why. You have a new show now, “The Lone Gunmen.” It’s a comedy. Tell us about it.

Chris: It’s a spinoff of “The X-Files.” It stars the three computer geeks that you may all know if you’re “X-Files” fans. It’s on Sundays at 9:00. It’s going to take “The X-Files’ ” timeslot for three weeks and then it’s going to go to Fridays at 9, which is the old “X-Files” timeslot. Anyway, it’s kind of “The X-Files” turned on its head. It’s a comedy with some drama in it. So don’t be afraid to laugh.

Conan: (gesturing to audience) Please, I’m telling them that all the time. “Please don’t be afraid to laugh” is how I start my monologue, often. Who do you identify with comedically or who influenced you comedically? Was there a TV show, a comedy, that spoke to you as a kid?

Chris: So many things as a kid. “Rocky and Bullwinkle.” I have to say “Gilligan’s Island” was my big–my big influence.

Conan: Seriously? I think you should leave now. No, it’s funny, because “Gilligan’s Island” was hated at the time by TV critics but it’s the show that everyone in my generation grew up with. We all thought it was great.

Chris: I loved the show.

Conan: Who did you like the most on “Gilligan’s Island”? Who did you think was the coolest guy?

Chris: Well, not the Skipper, he wrecked the boat. And not Gilligan ’cause he was the Skipper’s “Little Buddy.”

Conan: Right. Which had creepy overtones.

Chris: Exactly.

Conan: Which Standards just let right through.

Chris: Homoerotica. Bunghoney.

Conan: (embarrassed) Yeah, okay. Why, Chris, why?

Chris: I’d have to say the Professor.

Conan: You liked the Professor? Why?

Chris: Because–

(A few whoops from the audience)

Conan: Well, two people just agreed with you out of a random 210 sampling. Why the Professor?

Chris: Smart is sexy and I think the Professor was actually getting it much more than anybody else on the island.

Conan: Well let me — I would agree with you except he shares that island with a multimillionaire. I think he would probably do a little better than anybody else on the island. That’s just sad but true. What about — you said that this show that you’re doing now combines drama and comedy, you have another show that’s a very successful drama. Have you ever thought — There’s this reality craze now. Everyone’s saying what’s the new reality show? Have you ever thought, “I’m gonna invent a reality show. I’m gonna do one of those and try and ride this wave”?

Chris: Yeah, I actually came up with one where — a family would go to the producers and ask that someone in the family be kidnapped and then you get a million dollars and you can decide whether or not you actually want that person back.

Conan: No one would ever ask for that person back. They would just keep the million dollars.

Chris: Exactly.

Conan: That’s the meanest show I’ve ever heard of. I’ll do it with you if I can share in the profits. And keep this hair. There’s a paranoia that emanates from “The X-Files” and it has made me think that maybe you are a paranoid person yourself. Do you think you are?

Chris: Basically.

Conan: Really. You tend to believe that there are forces out there trying to destroy you.

Chris: I know that there are forces out there–

Conan: It’s called the network. Yeah, yeah. They don’t really count. They’re not as bright as the aliens. The aliens can actually travel through time and space. These people can’t put their suits on. (Audience laughs) None of this will air. I’ll be replaced by a robot tomorrow. “Buy NBC goods! General Electric good!” Do you have any idea where that sense of paranoia would come from? Was there anything in your childhood? Do you think you had any experiences as a kid that would make you be paranoid?

Chris: I’ve told this story before and no one really believes it. When I was growing up I came home to dinner late one night and my dad actually made me sit in the street and eat my dinner on a manhole cover.

Conan: [forces a laugh] That’s a hard thing to laugh at! First of all, was this a pretty quiet street or were you on a highway? It’s pretty hard to eat your pudding when Mack trucks are passing you on either side.

Chris: You develop certain senses or sensibilities when you —

Conan: You really ate your dinner off a manhole cover?

Chris: It was in a cul-de-sac, so it wasn’t so dangerous.

Conan: Right.

Chris: But going for seconds was always a little risky.

Conan: Dodging traffic the whole way.

Chris: I was scrawny.

Conan: Well, then, you’re excused for creating “The X-Files” and having that paranoid vision, I would think. “The Lone Gunmen,” this new show, premieres this Sunday night at 9:00 on Fox, and it was really great having you on the show.

Chris: Thank you very much. I appreciate it. Thank you.

Conan: Yeah, thanks for making time for us.

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One Response to “Conan O'Brien Show: Interview with Chris Carter”

  1. […] That said, the production of Chinga was not entirely smooth. The title of the episode was controversial with Fox, as Carter explained in an interview with Conan O’Brien: […]