conan_o_brienNBC announced earlier this week that Conan O’Brien will be picking up his former co-host, Andy Richter, on his way to Los Angeles, where the two will fill the shoes of soon to depart Jay Leno. Other than “Late Night,” Richter might be best known for multiple failed shows on Fox and NBC since leaving Conan in 2000. So basically, this washed up comedic hack found a way to weasel his way back into the good graces of O’Brien. Quite possibly, this could mean ratings gold for the new incarnation of “The Tonight Show” beginning on June 1. O’Brien, after all, has said the two have “proven chemistry.” Yet, it wasn’t until after Richter left the show that the offer came down for O’Brien to replace Leno. Between 2000 and last week, when O’Brien officially signed off from “Late Night,” his program has been winning the time slot with an average of 2 million weekly total viewers, according to Nielsen. On the other hand, what if O’Brien took a page out of the playbook of two well reviewed, if slightly less watched, late-night laffers? ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live” and E!’s “Chelsea Lately” have a glaring similarity that might suit O’Brien well. I’m speaking of the Mexican sidekick. What better way to totally embrace his new Los Angeles home than by picking up a Mexican-American for his show? Over on “Chelsea Lately,” host Chelsea Handler often turns to her Mexican sidekick, Chuy Bravo, throughout the half-hour program for many laughs. And they appear to embrace the novelty of having a foreign sidekick. Chuy’s official biography on E!’s website says his “first exposure to Hollywood was as a young man, when the production of ‘The Three Amigos’ rolled into his tiny Mexican village, which led to a temporary job arranging nightly hookers for the production crew.” While Handler pulled in 910,000 total viewers last week, it is a point of quality programming, and that she’s on cable. As the New York Times wrote in September 2007, shortly after the show’s premiere, “this is a demanding tabloid seminar that assumes a high degree of pop literacy,” adding that Handler is “just good” and “she makes late-night look pretty easy.” Another late night show that bleeds with L.A. sensibility is Jimmy Kimmel’s program. An About.com critic described “Jimmy Kimmel Live” as being “akin to Conan’s first years in the talk-show business.” Lo and behold, this show also sports a Mexican counterpart. Guillermo Rodriguez is the real-life parking lot security guard for Kimmel’s show, and has been appearing in numerous skits. His “Guillermo’s Hollywood Roundup” is always a crowd pleaser. This Mexican style humor often comes from a slightly racist place, as both shows play up the fact that these men have broken English and are either overweight or in Chuy’s case, that he has “little nugget legs.” But the fact remains that, tinged in racism or not, these bits are quite hysterical. Say hey, Conan, if the ink hasn’t already dried on Richter’s contract, maybe you can send him back into canceled television exile and pick up a Mexican sidekick of your own. There is no need to try rekindling something you had nearly a decade ago. Time for a complete reinvention. If Mexican isn’t up your alley, you could always go Chilean-American and snag Horatio Sanz from “Saturday Night Live” fame. Better yet, Jimmy Fallon could reunite with his “SNL” cohort and live it up as O’Brien’s replacement on “Late Night.”

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