When Conan O’Brien traveled to Armenia this fall, he probably didn’t expect to gain a greater appreciation for the internet — or to reach that conclusion thanks to a group of teenage Syrian refugees.
After filming in Cuba earlier this year, O'Brien once again took his show international, this time traveling with his longtime assistant to Armenia, where her family is originally from, for a special episode of Conan that aired on November 17. O'Brien and Sona Movsesian packed in plenty of sightseeing while they were there, with stops including the Genocide Memorial, Yerevan Day festivities, and even the set of an Armenian soap opera, where O'Brien got to deliver one whole line.
But the standout moment of the trip wasn't planned ahead of time. O'Brien ran into a group of teenage fans, who turned out to be Syrian refugees who had been living in Armenia for three years. They all ended up going dancing together, for no reason other than that it would be fun.
In an interview with KPCC's John Horn, O'Brien talked about how this unexpected, awesome night taught him that the reach of his show extends much further than he ever would've guessed:
[These Syrian refugees] know the show from YouTube. They were citing certain bits. They were so happy to see me that we wound up going out to the Village Square and just dancing around because there was some sort of disco celebration going on in Republic Square in Yerevan.
I remembered, I called my wife ... I said, that was one of the great experiences of my life. Connecting with these Syrian refugees who liked the show on YouTube. They never get to see someone they know from YouTube, especially from the West — and then they’re with him. In those moments, I’m so grateful for the internet. It’s so incredible that I can have a connection with people from Syria who are living in Armenia and they just like some bits I do on the show, and we actually meet, and they get to be on the show. That’s magical to me.
You can watch more clips from Conan's Armenia episode at Team Coco's YouTube channel.