In the September 2003 issue of Interview magazine, Jack Black interviewed Conan O'Brien. You can read the interview here.
JACK BLACK: Hello?
CONAN O'BRIEN: Two great comedy minds, finally together.
JB: Head to head. Clash of the titans, as it were.
CO: Superman and Aquaman.
JB: Who's Aquaman?
CO: I'm afraid you are.
JB: [laughs] Okay. Let me start off by apologizing. You've probably been waiting by the phone for me to call.
CO: I've been staring at my pink princess phone waiting for my nails to dry, wishing you would call. And I have a photograph of you, and it's in a heart-shaped frame by the side of my bed.
JB: [laughs] Well, let me explain. I got scared and did some last-minute cramming. I had to approach this like a hard journalist. Now. I want to ask you some things I've prepared. Awesome questions.
CO: Are these the kind like "if I lift a tree that's heavy, that means I made it?" Wait, that makes no sense. I fell apart for a second, but now I'm back.
JB: [laughs] Which brings me to my first hard-hitting question, actually. It seems to me that you are the master of self-effacement. You might even be the king. The undisputed king. But the truth is, you've got the funniest show on television [Late Night With Conan O'Brien], and I'm not just blowing smoke up your ass.
CO: Well, there is smoke up my ass, so did that come from you?
JB: Yeah, it was me. But there's also other stuff up there.
CO: There's a 1934 Lincoln penny, which is very rare.
JB: What's up with that? Why do you--
CO: --Make fun of myself? I have a theory, which is that your core sense of humor and what you think is funny is formed early on. And my sense of humor was formed when I was a mediocre athlete, not that popular with the girls, coming from a big family, just this guy who was funny with my friends. Self-effacement was actually a survival tool. So if people want me to start saying "Check this guy out!" or "Wanna see something funny? Just watch the old Cona-rama!" you'd need to get in a time machine and go back to 1978 and make me an amazing athlete and a hit with the ladies.
JB: You said you come from a big family. Do you have brothers and sisters?
CO: Yeah. Five.
JB: Were you competitive with each other?
CO: I think we were competitive about being funny. And about who could throw the spear the farthest. [Black laughs] That was something my father made us do. He was a tribal chief. I read something once that Bill Murray said, that so much of his comedy education happened at the dinner table with his brothers, and that certainly is the truth with me, too. We were sitting around and someone said something funny and it made our mother and father laugh, then someone else tried to say something funnier.
JB: I remember really wanting to be funny, and not being funny for most of my youth.
CO: Really? That's interesting because I don't think people would guess that [about you]. When did you feel like, Hey, okay, people think I'm funny now?
CO: Never did, huh? [both laugh]
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