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The worst assistant in the world is that of Conan O’Brien

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“It’s not often that people who make TV are as pleasant in real life as they appear on screen,” laughs Sona Movsesian. Rare exception: her boss, Conan O’Brien. The assistant to the late night talk show legend explains in a hilarious book, The worst assistant in the world, because he refuses to work too hard.

Posted at 8:00

Domenico late

Domenico late
The print

Yes, of course: “the worst assistant in the world”, a character crystallized by many nonsense segments that aired on Conan O’Brien’s late TBS show, is first and foremost a caricature of the real Sona Movsesian. Case in point: In 2009, when the gossip press reported that Robert De Niro had sued his own assistant for watching 55 episodes of Friends in four days, Sona has pledged to beat this honorable brand. You will be able to watch 58 episodes in four days. Cheer.

However, Sona has considered this book with some seriousness, as a counterweight to the archetype, omnipresent in fiction, of the good-natured and obedient assistant, who is opposed to the confessions of an assistant who, despite having obtained the job of her dreams, refuses. suffer the worst insults or do the carpet, under the pretext of being in the service of someone powerful.

It is also a counterweight to the accusations that have emerged in recent years about several television personalities who have built empires on their cleverly feigned kindness, behaving, behind the scenes, with the humility of Louis XIV.

I thought, why don’t I tell a different story, mine, about an assistant who takes a nap at work and responds to her boss, with whom she has a healthy but dysfunctional relationship?

Sona Movsesiana

As he explains that the proverbial little staff, in the not so wonderful world of showdo you accept too often to be mocked, as if it were an essential rite of passage?

“Excuse the disgusting image, but I compare this way of thinking to the film The human millipede : it is as if we all defecate in each other’s mouth when we behave towards people who want to start in this environment as people who absolutely must be mistreated, just to measure how much they really want to do this job “, regrets Sona, from her residence in California.

Why can’t we just be nice and tell them they’ll have to work hard, instead of throwing them printers, putting them down and calling them at 3:00 in the morning? Especially since it does not really separate those who have what they need from others: it only creates post-traumatic stress.

Sona Movsesiana

A friendship atypical

Despite this salutary subtext, The worst assistant in the world takes place for the most part as a series of outlandish anecdotes, whether it’s a dinner with a reporter from the Hollywood reporter which Sona attended after ingesting a certain green plant, or a phone call from David Letterman’s assistant who wanted her counterpart to know that her boss had given Conan a horse (!) as a thank you gift.

This hymn to laziness, prodigal in self-irony, also traces in the void, with great tenderness, the portrait of an atypical friendship between a girl from an Armenian family, who loved television up to a day in high school to offer an oral presentation on the history of the remote control, and one of the icons of the small screen of the 90s.

“I was already a fan about Conan when I started working for him and I was afraid to know he was evil, Sona recalls. But I immediately noticed that if so many collaborators have remained loyal to him, it is because he is the best boss. He is still somehow the middle child of a family of six. ”

When you meet Conan, you understand that being successful is no excuse for being unpleasant.

Sona Movsesiana


PHOTO SUPPLIED BY PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE

Conan and Sona, in their Sunday clothes

Launched in November 2018, the podcast Conan O’Brien needs a friendco-hosted by Sona in the role of the gruffiest of minions, she will have given new life to the humor of the lanky redhead, more on this microphone than at the helm of her talk show TBS, which she disconnected among other things in June 2021.

“There is something very framed in a talk show Tv, Sona observes, while when we record the podcast we have no idea what we’re going to talk about. And I think it fits perfectly in Conan’s comic spirit to go into these long digressions. It is as if the animal has been left out of his cage. A very pale and very red animal. ”

So isn’t Sona exactly the worst assistant in the world? “It’s true that I often forget my homework and I’m not good with details, but what I’m better at than any assistant is that whenever I’m wrong, Conan can turn it into comic material. It means more to him than if I did mine. I work correctly. ”

The worst assistant in the world

The worst assistant in the world

Feather

272 pages

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