Conan O’Brien Hijacks Comic-Con 2015 (Guest Blog)

Talk show host dominates annual comics and entertainment event, reports contributor Suzette Valle from San Diego

Comic-Con 2015 was hijacked by Conan O’Brien, who effectively turned it into Conan-Con!

O’Brien and TBS plotted Con domination with a coordinated blast of events to conquer all fans. The most powerful strike is the five-night broadcast of the cable television show from the historical Spreckles Theater in downtown San Diego.

To mesmerize Con masses, Team Coco had trolleys crisscross the city wrapped in bright orange and featuring POP2 vinyl figures of O’Brien in several costumes with different facial expressions.

Bus stops were also covered in TBS Conan O’Brien POP Vinyl ads. Team Coco posted a photo on Instagram of an unsuspecting bus-rider sitting next to the unassuming redhead at a bus stop. The caption reads, “Even the king of #ComicCon must take the bus.”

Tickets for the show were available via 1iota.com, and were offered to badge-holding attendees via lottery. I tried and failed to score tickets to the “Conan O’Brien Show” taping in my hometown.

Disappointed? Only for a moment because another ticket targeted my Inbox.

“You’re invited to Conan Bingo!”

“For four nights, 100 lucky fans will be treated to an experience unlike anything Comic-Con has seen before — Conan Bingo.”

WTH is Conan Bingo? I had to find out.

Even the king of #ComicCon must take the bus. #TeamCoco #ConanCon #SDCC

A photo posted by CONAN on TBS (@teamcoco) on

A small neon sign, outlining the iconic orange hair do mounted high above a street corner, was the only clue you were at the right place — the line wrapping around the block was a dead giveaway, too!

When the orange doors swung open, complimentary wine, beer and mixed cocktails were handed out. Trays loaded with mac n’ cheese lobster rolls, chipotle meatballs, and traditional bruschetta made rounds.

Inside, the place was decked out for a formal sit-down dinner: black floor-length tablecloths, silverware, and dinnerware. Sliders, individual servings of tomato soup with a mini grilled cheese and empanadas were set on an orange lazy susan in the middle of the tables. Donuts and carrot cake followed.

Then the lights were dimmed and the club-style music lowered. We waited with anticipation for the man of the hour to come out since Conan showed up the night before and called out the first ball.

Conan Trolley, Conan O'Brien at San Diego Comic-Con (Suzette Valle)

But O’Brien was MIA. Instead, host Michael Stauffer took command of the evening and with the now proverbial, “May the balls be ever in your favor!” Conan bingo was underway.

To take the edge off of the disappointed Conan Bingo crowd, Stauffer quickly ordered a round of glowing blue shots for the house. I don’t know what that was, but it did the trick!

Stauffer was a smooth, elegant-yet-funny and extremely energetic 6-foot-tall-plus host who had this bingo thing down to a wacky science.

A professional dance troupe lead the dance-offs and drinking games each time the number O-69 was called.

Breaks between calling out numbers included something called Karaoke Balls. Brave (or intoxicated ) audience volunteers sang acapella and substituted lyrics with the word “balls.” “Tainted Balls,” “I Like Big Balls” and “Sweet Balls” (Caroline) were some of the night’s hilarious re-arrangements.

Blame it on that blue stuff in those tiny shot cups. Or, maybe the prizes made them do it. ATT sponsored three big prize bags for Bingo winners with Beats headphones, two tickets to the Conan O’Brien show at Comic-Con, an autographed Batman Conan POP2 vinyl figure, a t-shirt and more. Fans left with some swag, too.

It turns out Stauffer has been calling bingo for five years, but as a bartender he was pouring shots before calling them at a New York hotel. @saladmike, as he is known on Twitter and Instagram, and DJ Bumblebee are a team and host #NotYourStandardBingo at The Standard Hotel in New York on Sundays.

Team Coco hired them, and we had a ball. (Pun!)

The late-night show host and Team Coco are a force to be reckoned with at this year’s geek gathering in San Diego, California.

While the mayhem reigns supreme on the streets of the Gaslamp Quarter during Comic-Con, there’s another sort of controlled bedlam at #ConanBingo for the next two nights.

I may be under the influence of Conan-Con, but the Conan Bingo invitation was right: This was a “once-in-a-lifetime-money-can’t-buy experience.”