Kumail Najiani was ‘mortified’ after Conan O’Brien called him out for cancelling half hour before show taping

Kumail Najiani was ‘mortified’ after Conan O’Brien called him out for cancelling half hour before show taping
What had started out as a late night show turned into a late nightmare, after Kumail Najiani unexpectedly cancelled his appearance on Conan O’Brien’s show, a mere half hour before the opening monologue. 

Even worse — the cancellation interrupted O’Brien’s nap. “I was having my pre-show nap,” O’Brien explained to the audience during the monologue. “Andy [Richter] was having his bath in heavy cream, and they came in and they said, ‘Kumail can’t get here.’”

Kumail Nanjiani attends the 2019 MTV Movie and TV Awards at Barker Hangar on June 15, 2019 in Santa Monica, California. Emma McIntyre/Getty Images

Rather than panicking, the talk show veteran said they decided to have some fun with the situation and interviewed his personal assistant of 10 years, Sona Movsesian. 

To her credit, she gamely went along and even joked about her reaction to subbing for Najiani. “Oh shit, they really ran out of stuff to do,” she said.

She opted for honesty over job security when she told O’Brien that while she liked her job, there were times when she wanted to “poison” his food.

The show’s old 60-minute set with multiple guest slots had made cancellations easier, explained O’Brien, since the staff could move guests up if someone cancelled. However, the show has since opted for a one-guest policy, which could mean having to deal with more no-shows in the future. 

This isn’t the first time the show has had to wing an episode due to a late cancellation. O’Brien recalled when Liza Minnelli cancelled almost 20 minutes before the segment. “Liza Minnelli cancelled, and she’s …  a great artist, but she’s known for sometimes flaking out,” said O’Brien, as Richter added that she’s a “troublesome diva.”

O’Brien joked that Naijiani and Minnelli now share the category of “troublesome diva.”

According to the talk show host, the actor had been forced to cancel due to an unexpected conflict with his Silicon Valley taping. 

Three days after the episode, the actor and comedian appeared on O’Brien’s podcast ‘Conan O’Brian Needs More Friends’ to explain his cancellation, but O’Brien made it clear from the beginning that there was no bad blood over the mix-up. 

“You are famously a very nice guy,” he said in the podcast. “You are extremely hard working, you are punctual, this is not your MO at all. This was something that was out of your control.”

Najiani explained that he had asked friends, including Silicon Valley co-star Martin Starr, to fill in for him, but it was too late. 

O’Brien’s lighthearted reaction to the debacle however did not save Najiani from a few choice (albeit hilarious) remarks during the show. Richter called the actor “Kumail Nan-show-up-yyy’ prompting a laugh from the host himself. 

Najiani had originally been slated to promote his upcoming movie Stuber and O’Brien said that the crew was supposed to play a clip from the movie for their audience. 

“But if a guy doesn’t show up, we’re not going to show a clip promoting his movie,” he said during his monologue. “You gotta show up to get the cookie.”

Instead, he showed another clip, promoting Najiani’s box office rival — Disney’s The Lion King.

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