The process of getting hired to produce a late night talk show like Conan is grueling and competitive. Production duties on one recent episode of the show, however, were open to anybody.
Last November, Conan O’Brien appropriated the oft-mimicked Occupy movement for his "Occupy Conan" initiative, inviting viewers to combine their efforts and produce an entire episode themselves. After he posted a template episode online, fans immediately began re-creating scenes from the show and lobbying to have their versions chosen for the final cut. On Jan. 31, the finished product finally aired, with O’Brien blogging along live through his Team Coco tablet app, making the fan lovefest complete.
The project required viewers to tape (or, as some people decided, to animate) re-creations of the various segments from the episode—everything from the opening credits to Anne Hathaway rapping, a visit from Will Ferrell as Ron Burgundy, and musical guest fun. performing their hit, "We Are Young." Fans could work on these segments by themselves or together with others, using any method they wished to recreate chosen clips, from sock puppets to stop-motion.
The hive mind at Team Coco later evaluated all entries and weaved the best version of each part into a complete "Occupy Conan" tapestry, the best overall submission being rewarded a grand prize of an all-new 2013 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible—a sponsor of the project.
Some celebrities dropped into the mix to play Conan in certain segments, including fellow gingers Joel McHale, Seth Green, and Jesse Tyler Ferguson, as well as Nick Offerman, Fred Armisen. Most notably, perhaps, Tina Fey appeared as the host herself, leaving an indelible impression that should make your next viewing of 30 Rock at least a little bit weird.
Watch the whole episode here, and look through the slide show above for some of the best segment entries.