The worst assistant in the world is Conan O’Brien’s

“It’s not often that people who make television are as pleasant in real life as they appear on screen,” laughs Sona Movsesian. Rare exception: his boss Conan O’Brien. The late-night talk show legend’s assistant explained in a funny book, The worst assistant in the world, why she refuses to work too hard.

Posted at 8:00 am

Dominik Spaet

Dominik Spaet
The press

Yes, of course: “The Worst Assistant Alive,” a character crystallized in many of the nonsensical segments that aired on Conan O’Brien’s defunct show on TBS, is primarily a caricature of the real Sona Movsesian. Case in point: In 2009, when the tabloids reported that Robert De Niro was suing his own assistant for watching 55 episodes of friends In four days, Sona committed to surpassing that honorable mark. She manages to watch 58 episodes in four days. To cheer.

Nonetheless, Sona views this book with a certain seriousness, as a counterbalance to fiction’s ubiquitous archetype of the good-natured and obedient assistant, to which she counters the confessions of an assistant who, even when she gets her dream job, refuses on the pretext of being in the service of a To stand up to those in power, to suffer the worst insults, or to sweep the carpet.

It also counterbalances allegations that have been leveled in recent years about several television characters who have built empires with their cleverly feigned kindness while behaving behind the scenes with the humility of Louis XIV.

I thought why not tell a different kind of story, my own, about an assistant who takes a nap at work and disagrees with her boss, with whom she has a healthy but troubled relationship?

Sona Movsesian

How does she explain the proverbial small staff in the not-so-wonderful world of show businessToo often accepts being disregarded as if it were an inevitable rite of passage?

“Excuse the disgusting image, but I compare that mindset to the film The human centipede : It’s like we’re all defecating in each other’s mouths when we treat people who want to start in this environment like people who desperately need to be abused just to measure how much they really do this job want,” regrets Sona, of her California residency.

Instead of throwing printers at them, turning them off and calling them at 3:00 am, why can’t we just be nice and tell them they have to work really hard? Especially since it doesn’t really separate those who have what it takes from the others: it just creates post-traumatic stress.

Sona Movsesian

A friendship atypical

Despite this salutary subtext The worst assistant in the world mostly unfolds like a string of wacky anecdotes, be it a dinner with a journalist from the Hollywood reporters attended by Sona after swallowing a certain green plant, or a call from David Letterman’s assistant to let her counterpart know that her boss had Conan deliver a horse (!) as a thank you.

This ode to laziness, extravagant in self-mockery, also traces with great tenderness the portrait of an atypical friendship between a girl from an Armenian family who loved television so much that there was a day in high school oral presentation on the history of the Remote control and one of the small screen icons of the 1990s.

“I was already one fan from Conan when I first started working for him and I was scared to know he was evil, Sona recalls. But I quickly realized that so many employees have remained loyal to him because he is the best boss. He’s still sort of the middle child of a family of six. »

When you meet Conan, you understand that success is no excuse for being uncomfortable.

Sona Movsesian


PHOTO SUPPLIED BY PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE

Conan and Sona in their Sunday dresses

The podcast launched in November 2018 Conan O’Brien needs a friendCo-hosting Sona in the role of the grumpiest of henchmen, will have breathed new life into the lanky redhead’s humor, more on that mic than at the helm of his TBS talk show, which he incidentally shut down in June 2021.

“It’s something very framed in one talk show TV, Sona watches while taping the podcast we have no idea what we’re going to be talking about. And I think it suits Conan’s comedic spirit perfectly to throw himself into these long digressions. It’s like the animal was let out of its cage. A very pale and very red animal. »

So Sona isn’t exactly the worst assistant in the world? “It’s true that I often forget tasks and am not good with details, but what I do better than any assistant is that whenever I make a mistake, Conan can convert it into comic material. It means more to him than if I do my job right. »

The worst assistant in the world

The worst assistant in the world

Feather

272 pages

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