Andy Richter, late-night sidekick, entertains at U

by Andy Donohue

and Joel Frozena

When asked what the biggest benefit of being late night’s last sidekick is, Andy Richter said, “I get to park my tank anywhere.”
Actor, writer and comedian Richter spoke on Monday night to a rambunctious, standing-room-only audience at the Great Hall in Coffman Memorial Union. He is best known for his current role as the sidekick on “Late Night with Conan O’Brien.” Richter’s speech, titled, “How to be a Talk Show Sidekick, and Other Worthless Crap,” displayed why his show is the number-one late-night talk show at college campuses around the country.
With an enthusiastic crowd chanting and howling his name, Richter stepped onto the stage to a standing ovation. From swearing at old ladies to visiting national porn conventions, he has created a truly original comedic style; one which, some say, is worthy of the cult-like following he has gained.
Starting out with an extremely detailed biography of his past, Richter first took the audience through his childhood. From his imitations of the Carol Burnett Show to his schoolboy antics, Richter displayed an early knack for comedy.
“I figured out you could be a smartass if you could get the teachers to laugh. It was kind of hard for them to punish you if they were laughing at you.”
From there, Richter took his aspirations of becoming a writer to the University of Illinois. After two years he left to attend Columbia College in Chicago, where he studied film and video.
Performing improvisation for such groups as Gambrinus King of Beer and Comedy Underground, Richter learned how tough it is to make a living in comedy.
“I was in improv mostly for the parties. I was around some glorious drinkers. I can’t keep up with them anymore. I feel like an old man.”
Richter’s first national television appearance was portraying a victim of serial killer John Wayne Gacy in a segment on “Hard Copy.”
“I was happy just to get a job, even if I had to die in the process.”
Richter then jumped to the big screen with an infamous role in the 1993 film “Cabin Boy.” He describes his role of Kenny as a man who “danced like a harem girl” and had “the attention span of a circus monkey.”
His goofy antics and originality eventually caught the eye of NBC executives and led to a lunch meeting with the newly appointed show host Conan O’Brien.
Richter recalled a friendly meeting with O’Brien for a meal. “I met with Conan in L.A. mainly because I wanted a free lunch.”
This meeting led to the formation of one of late night television’s newest comedic duo. In a series of video clips, the audience was entertained by the characters that have continually developed in the three years the show has aired.
After the video clips, an informal question-and-answer session led to students offering baked beans and hugs to Richter.