TV Column: Andy Richter Will Join Conan O'Brien on 'The Tonight Show'

After a nine-year absence from late-night TV, Andy Richter will re-join Conan O'Brien, front, when O'Brien takes over
After a nine-year absence from late-night TV, Andy Richter will re-join Conan O'Brien, front, when O'Brien takes over "The Tonight Show" in June. (1995 Nbc Photo)
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By Lisa de Moraes
Wednesday, February 25, 2009

About nine years after Andy Richter left his gig as sidekick on Conan O'Brien's late night show because, he said, he was "getting bored" and "didn't want to be Ed McMahon," NBC announced Richter is going to be Conan's Ed McMahon on "The Tonight Show" when Conan takes over June 1.

In addition to his "announcing duties" on the show, Richter will participate in comedic pieces, NBC said.

But don't call him Conan's sidekick, an NBC late night rep scolded us. "I wouldn't refer to Andy as a sidekick, [as] he was in his previous role. He will be the announcer out here," the rep said via e-mail from Los Angeles.

Whatever.

Richter joins the pantheon of sidekick/announcers -- side-kannouncers -- who have played second fiddle to "The Tonight Show" hosts over the years.

Jay Leno had John Melendez, better known as Howard Stern's Stuttering John. For decades, Ed McMahon -- "The Tonight Show's" most famous side-kannouncer -- served Johnny Carson.

When Jack Paar hosted "The Tonight Show" his side-kannouncer was Hugh Downs, who later anchored NBC News's "Today" show and ABC News's "20/20."

And "The Tonight Show's" very first host, Steve Allen, had Gene Rayburn, better known as host of "Match Game," as his side-kannouncer for a while.

When he left "Late Night," Richter said in an interview that he wanted to something different and that he was "getting a little bored and wanted to return to his acting roots."

After leaving Conan's side, he famously flamed out in a series of sitcoms that were adored by TV critics but not so much by the viewers at home, including Fox's "Andy Richter Controls the Universe," which was pulled after 19 episodes; Fox's "Quintuplets," which lasted 22 episodes; and NBC's "Andy Barker, P.I.," which was pulled after just six episodes. He also appeared in the Will Ferrell flicks "Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby," "Blades of Glory," "Semi-Pro" and "Elf."

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