Sona Movsesian shares the hilarious realities of being Conan O'Brien's assistant
In a Q interview, Movsesian discussed her new memoir, The World's Worst Assistant
Click the play button above to listen to Sona Movsesian's full conversation with Tom Power.
In 2009, Sona Movsesian landed a job that most can only dream about: she became the assistant to talk show host Conan O'Brien. Since then, the two have shared a long-running joke about her being the world's worst assistant.
On his show and podcast, O'Brien pokes fun at Movsesian's work ethic, jokingly accusing her of wasting time and getting high on the job. And in her new memoir, The World's Worst Assistant, Movsesian embraces that reputation.
She joined Q's Tom Power to talk about the book and share what it's really like to be an assistant to one of the most famous people in the world.
Here are some stories she shared with us.
She says she manifested her career as O'Brien's assistant
Before Movsesian started working for O'Brien, she worked for NBC in the events and operations division. When she was ready to leave that job, she said she knew exactly what she wanted to do next.
"Somebody was like, 'What are you going to do once you're kind of done with your job here?' And I just said, 'I'm going to work for Conan O'Brien.' And I said it with such confidence, but I had no idea how I was going to do it," Movsesian told Power. "It's like Oprah's secret. Like, you know how she just manifests things? That's what I did. I Oprah-ed it."
One throwaway joke sealed the deal in her job interview
Movsesian naturally felt a bit intimidated when she walked in for her interview with two producers and O'Brien, but after introducing herself, the talk show host reassured her that it would just be a casual conversation and she should make herself comfortable.
"And then I said, 'Oh, OK. Is it OK if I lay down on the couch then?' And all three of them laughed," she recalled.
"It was just sort of a throwaway joke…. And then later on when I got a call that I was being offered the job, the HR rep said, '[Conan] really liked your joke at the very top of the interview.' And I was like, 'Oh my God, I made a joke about laziness.' And at that point, I don't think he knew what he was getting into."
About six months into the job, O'Brien made a weird request related to Michael Jackson
In June 2009, only half a year into the job, Movsesian was still establishing her rapport with O'Brien and was eager to show him how hardworking she was. On his way into work one morning, he called her as usual with a list of tasks that needed to be done.
"And he's like, 'Also, you know, you might not know this, but I was very close to Michael' — he just said 'Michael' — and Michael Jackson had just died," she said. "'And he says, 'Do you think that you could arrange a private viewing of his body so I can say goodbye?'"
Movsesian said she immediately wrote down the request in her notebook and got to work trying to figure out who to contact to get a private viewing of Jackson's body. A few minutes later, O'Brien called back with another request.
"He's like, 'Also, get in touch with my lawyer because I really want to adopt Blanket' — who is Michael Jackson's son," she continued. "And I, at that point, I just was like, 'Oh, is this a bit?' And he goes, 'Yes.' And then he goes, 'Did you think I really wanted a private viewing of his body?' … And then he came back and saw I had written it down in my notebook. I was horrified."
Being O'Brien's assistant has given her a different perspective on fame
Movsesian started becoming well known herself after she was prominently featured in the documentary Conan O'Brien Can't Stop, which follows the talk show host's comedy tour after his departure from The Tonight Show.
Despite having her own fans, Movsesian said she's never really given into the idea that she's famous.
"Working for a very famous person will make you realize you will never be that famous," she said. "There's like a level of fame that Conan has that, you know, when people say, 'What's it like to be famous in your own right?' I don't think that I am."
Written by Vivian Rashotte. Interview produced by Vanessa Greco.