AC/DC &... Paul Fenech? Conan O'Brien's Exclusive Australian Show Was One To Remember

21 February 2019 | 1:47 pm | Neil Griffiths

There was even a performance of the 'Skippy The Bush Kangaroo' theme song...

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Currently in Australia to film new content for his Netflix series, Conan Without Borders, Conan O'Brien put on an exclusive and one-off stand-up show in Sydney on Wednesday night... and if you couldn't get there, you missed out on one hell of a show. 

Following some truly impressive sets from local favourites, Rhys Nicholson, Becky Lucas and Steen Raskopoulos, the revered US talk show host hit the stage to a standing ovation, dressed in a blue collared shirt, tie and leather jacket, describing himself looking as a "hip biology teacher" who was told he can't coach the girl's volleyball team. 

Immediately warming up to the Sydney crowd by apologising for his tardiness in getting to the State Theatre because he took the light rail here ("I should get here in about nine years"), the opening portion of the show was dedicated to his likes and dislikes of Australian culture. 

Giving his best Australian accent, which he says he learnt is like talking normally but without the 'r' (and comes off sounding like a bad actor in Pirates Of The Caribbean), O'Brien continuously reiterates he has no idea what we're saying. Case in point - "you give nicknames to things that take longer to say... we say, AC/DC, you say 'Nah mate, it's Acca Dacca!"

One of O'Brien's rare criticisms of the country comes in Sydney's lockout laws - "No shots after midnight? Are you putting up with that? ... You leave the bar after 1.30am and you can’t get back in again? I’ve been everywhere. That law doesn’t exist any other place."

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One of the show highlights comes when a joke O'Brien makes about Lucky Charms cereal falling flat ("that joke would have killed in the US") and instead decides to find out what the country's most popular cereal is. As cries of "Weet Bix!" come from all angles, O'Brien again can't understand a word we're saying and decides to pick one individual to come up and speak into the microphone. "Weet Bix" the man says. O'Brien clearly doesn't get it. "And what is it made from?" O'Brien asks. "Wheat", the man replies. Even when he's not trying, the comic's self-deprecating humour is on show. 

From making fun of his own figure, to extremely uncomfortable cafe run-ins with Arnold Schwarzenegger, there's little O'Brien can talk about that doesn't keep the crowd engaged. However, it's when he performs with his live band that things begin to escalate. 

O'Brien brings out a giant wheel which will decide if he performs AC/DC's You Shook Me All Night Long, Men At Work's Who Can It Be Now? or the Skippy The Bush Kangaroo theme song. The choice would be more exciting if You Shook Me All Night Long didn't take up 95% of the wheel. 

Known for his impressive guitar chops, O'Brien and the Basic Cable Band actually nail the song and then invite a crowd member up on stage to sing the song with them. One fan looks particularly eager and rushes the stage. Wait, is that Paul Fenech from Fat Pizza? Yes. Yes it is. We can't tell if this is a bit or completely coincidental, but either way, Fenech was having a ball and O'Brien's reaction to the spectacle appeared genuine, so whaddayagonnado?

To round out the night, O'Brien opts for a Q&A with the audience which had some great moments and some not-great moments. Immediately (politely) declining the offer to perform the famous The Monorail Song from The Simpsons which he wrote, audience members become a bit restless when some fans drag out their questions - "Get to the question!" one punter yells out which results laughter from the venue, O'Brien included. From there, anyone who doesn't get to the point immediately receives a resounding "Question?!" which O'Brien laps up. 

A touching moment occurs when O'Brien is asked about his memories of late actor and The Simpsons and Saturday Night Live alumni Phil Hartman which he calls the "greatest all-rounder in the history of SNL".

However, the crowd quickly turns again when O'Brien is asked not once, but twice, about his past feud with Jay Leno, which results in more boos, with O'Brien even slamming the questions down saying "It was ten years ago... no one cares".

To round out the show, Fenech is brought up again (sure, why not?) to perform Skippy with the band and after bringing out Nicholson, Lucas and Raskopoulos one last time, O'Brien says his farewell. 

If this the kind of show we can expect from his Australian episode of Conan Without Borders then we're all in for a treat.