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9/22/2017 12:11:25 AM
Posted: 3/10/2006 6:25:49 AM EDT
If you ever watch Late Night with Conan O'Brien, you know that for a while, it has been a running joke for months about how there are always Finn nationals in the audience. And the show's makers knew it was really popular in Finland for some reason. Then they noticed Conan O'Brien uncannily resembles Finland's female president. So Conan went over there, and he was received almost like the Pope in a Catholic country, or at least a mega-celebrity like Michael Jackson in his prime.

Conan: 'Is this really happening?'
Late-night host devoting Friday to Finland trip

Friday, March 10, 2006; Posted: 2:36 a.m. EST (07:36 GMT)

NEW YORK (AP) -- Conan O'Brien may be a talk-show host in America, but he's a god in Finland.

On Friday, O'Brien will devote the whole of "Late Night" to recapping his recent trip to the Nordic country where he is surprisingly so popular. Thousands met him at the airport; he was mobbed wherever he went.

"The whole experience was surreal. It was a fevered dream," O'Brien told The Associated Press in a phone interview.

In Finland, his NBC show airs in prime time, though delayed three days. Seizing on his peculiar Nordic niche, O'Brien joked with his usual self-deprecating style: "(David) Hasselhoff is big in Germany, but I'm the king of Finland."

O'Brien's Finnish popularity escalated in the past year as he increasingly made humorous references to his remarkable resemblance to Finland's equally carrot-topped president, Tarja Halonen. His show even ran a series of mock-campaign ads with him supporting her. When she won re-election, her rival candidates wondered if O'Brien influenced the race.

So while "Late Night" was on hiatus for NBC's Olympic coverage, O'Brien and a camera crew hopped a plane to Helsinki, not knowing quite what to expect.

"We had no idea," he said. "We were thinking we were going to arrive at the airport and that no one's really going to be there."

Not only did crowds follow O'Brien, but the country's paparazzi trailed him while tabloids splashed stories about his visit on their covers.

"When you see a telephoto lens shot taken from some bushes by a paparazzi, what you're used to seeing is Brad Pitt making out with Angelina Jolie or Michael Jackson being rushed through a mall in a weird disguise," he explained.

"But the shots of me were of this very pale guy starring sadly at the Baltic Sea."

He also met with President Halonen. The palace meeting, complete with honor guard and majestic ceremony, was like a legitimate state visit, O'Brien said.

"It was treated with the same dignity and gravitas as Nelson Mandela meeting with Mother Teresa," he said. "My feeling was, 'Is this really happening?' "

The talk-show host rationalizes his Finnish popularity, suggesting the show's "weird, abstract" comedy strikes a chord with European sensibilities.

So did Conan, like Col. Kurtz in "Apocalypse Now," think about remaining in the land where he's a virtual deity?

He acknowledged that he could get used to it, and that going directly to a family vacation in the Caribbean (where "Late Night" wasn't airing) was a rough transition from life as a Beatle in Finland.

"I was saying to my wife, 'I'm like a diver that came up too fast,' " he said.

But O'Brien -- bends or not -- is happy to be back.

"It was too much over there. I got enough of that to last a lifetime."

Link Posted: 3/10/2006 6:46:58 AM EDT
God the Finns must be bored...
Link Posted: 3/10/2006 6:52:43 AM EDT

Link Posted: 3/10/2006 7:23:56 AM EDT
Link Posted: 3/10/2006 7:31:08 AM EDT
Link Posted: 3/10/2006 8:47:55 AM EDT
Link Posted: 3/10/2006 8:51:56 AM EDT
Why did I click on this thread?
Link Posted: 3/10/2006 8:52:18 AM EDT
I'll bet those makeup artists could make him look exactly like her.
Link Posted: 3/10/2006 8:59:01 AM EDT

The talk-show host rationalizes his Finnish popularity, suggesting the show's "weird, abstract" comedy strikes a chord with European sensibilities.

His humor is probably the last reason the Finns like him. More likely, it's probably because he looks like someone from Finland.
Link Posted: 3/10/2006 9:05:45 AM EDT
I was unfortunate enough to be witness to this no talent hack watching some stupid award show on TV a couple yars ago.

No offense but I seem to have run out of give a shit.
Link Posted: 3/10/2006 9:09:52 AM EDT
Link Posted: 3/10/2006 9:13:00 AM EDT
I'll give him credit for advancing the career of Triumph....that get's him way above Letterman.
Link Posted: 3/10/2006 2:48:01 PM EDT
This happened about a month ago. Conan's meeting with President Halonen ("Tarja") was on February 14th.

One of his jokes was that he was going to ask her to appoint him as Minister of Spa Inspection, specifically women's spas.

Pretty good resemblance.
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