Describing itself as a traditional late-night talk show, Conan draws its comedy from recent news stories, political figures and prominent celebrities, as well as aspects of the show itself. The show typically opens with a monologue from Conan O'Brien relating to recent headlines and frequently features exchanges with his sidekick, Andy Richter, and members of the audience. The next segment is devoted to a celebrity interview, with guests ranging from actors and musicians to media personalities and political figures. The show then closes with either a musical or comedy performance.
In January 2010, after The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien had been on the air for seven months, it was announced that NBC intended to move Jay Leno from primetime back to his original timeslot, with O'Brien's show starting shortly after midnight. Following a brief conflict, NBC announced that they had paid $45 million to buy out O'Brien's contract, ending his relationship with the network. Months after his official leave, O'Brien went on a comedy tour called The Legally Prohibited from Being Funny on Television Tour, which was largely inspired by the outpouring of support for O'Brien on the Internet during the conflict. It was announced on the first day of the tour that O'Brien would be joining TBS in November.