American television host Conan O’Brien, best known for his The Tonight Show, is adored by the public, many of which are interested in his religious background.
O’Brien was raised in an Irish Catholic household, and has often affirmed his Catholic identity. He is a Roman Catholic, and has mentioned that his lineage is 100% Irish Catholic. His faith has influenced his attitudes in a host of ways, which he has opened up about in the past.
Read more to find out about how Catholicism influenced Conan’s life.
O’Brien’s Catholic Upbringing
The television host spoke about the influence a strict religious upbringing had on him growing up.
Although he loves his religion, O’Brien admitted in a Rolling Stone interview that there were some influences he wishes he could have avoided.
When asked what he took from his Catholic upbringing, he said, “Constant shame around attractive women…That’s confusing for an incredibly uptight Irish Catholic boy. I do have that Catholic feeling that someone’s always watching me.”
He went on to admit that this was a regular topic of discussion in therapy for him. “Listen, I’ve had a lot of therapy, but when you get programmed that early that God is always watching, so if you think you could do better, God will know, and you must try harder … I don’t know. I mean, there are plenty of Catholics that didn’t get that message, but that’s the way I interpreted it.”
However, he has also had positive influences from his religion. He spoke about how something he was trying to overcome in therapy was his heavy conscience. “I had one therapist tell me in New York that I had the biggest conscience of anyone he had ever met.”
Despite this, he also said, “The part that’s not so noble is, I think if I don’t, something bad might happen to me.”
He said that his parents’ great achievements set the tone for what was expected of him in the future. “They were these Irish Catholic wunderkinds in the late Forties and early Fifties that not only were the first ones to go to college on full scholarships, but then went to graduate school on full scholarships.”
On his podcast O’Brien Needs A Friend, he spoke with fellow presenter Stephen Colbert about the forced feeling of suffering and “Catholic guilt” and the expectation to have to suffer like “Christ on the cross”.
O’Brien said of the power of “magical thinking”, “I engaged in magical thinking and put myself through a lot of torture,” but that this subsequently led to many favorable things happening for him.
This is certainly reflected in the successful life he has manifested for himself. He graduated with a history and literature degree from Harvard University, one of the most prestigious institutes in the world.
From here, he founded the Late Night Show with Conan O’Brien which was received rather unfavorably. Over time, the reception improved and the show was well-liked at the time of his 2009 departure, upon which he launched his The Tonight Show With Conan O’Brien.
This show was successful, and after its completion, he started his own podcast titled Conan O’Brien Needs A Friend which was #1 on iTunes Podcasts for a significant period of time.
Since then, he has started his own talk show titled Conan on the TBS channel.
He was named by the Times in the 100 Most Influential People list for his awkward, unique sense of humor.