With relations beginning to thaw between the U.S. and Cuban governments, the folks at TBS saw a marketing opportunity waiting to be seized. And so Conan O’Brien led a staff of 10 down to Havana to shoot a special over President’s Day weekend. Having made it back to the States and endured the indignity of a TSA extended security pat-down, the Conan In Cuba special will air tonight at 11 PM ET/PT.
The special will display Conan’s skills playing a fish out of water as he does touristy things like visiting a rum factory, rolling cigars, learning to rhumba, and stepping out in a neighborhood parade. As he often does in his remote segments, Conan gets a lot of mileage out of his self-deprecating charm—either that, or the locals have literally been hypnotized by the sudden appearance of a 6’4” porcelain man.
While promoting the special, Conan has been commenting on the good nature of the Cuban people. “When I would do stuff with them, improvise with them, they were really funny and really quick,” the late-night talk-show host recently told reporters. He also spoke about capturing the flavor of Havana, saying, “Our marching orders for the B-roll [were], ‘Get as much as you can of this beautiful city.’ Because it’s going to change and it’s probably going to change quickly.” In all likelihood, Conan was referring to the local upheaval that Cuba will undergo when American tourism invades the country, and not the global revolution that will occur when his colleague Stephen Colbert ascends the throne to become king of Late Night.