Conan, Mayor Booker Square Off On Screen

YouTube feud hits O'Brien's late night show

By Caitlin Millat
|  Saturday, Oct 17, 2009  |  Updated 9:07 AM EDT
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Jay Leno's Tonight Show Farewell

Conan O'Brien and Newark Mayor Cory Booker continued their fierce YouTube feud on late-night TV Friday evening, squaring off on O'Brien's show and trading barbs about everything from New Jersey to hairdos.

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Booker and Conan Meet Face to Face

Newark Mayor Cory Booker goes on the Conan O'Brien show Friday night, bringing their ongoing feud to a head
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Conan O'Brien and Newark Mayor Cory Booker continued their fierce YouTube feud on late-night TV Friday evening, squaring off on O'Brien's show and trading barbs about everything from New Jersey to hairdos.

Booker and O'Brien's YouTube fight began when O'Brien cracked a Newark joke on-air,  then Booker stepped in on YouTube, banning O'Brien from the Newark Airport in a comedy bit that got hundreds of thousands of views. O'Brien responded in kind, banning Booker, Newark's youngest-ever mayor, from the entire state of California -- and the Philippines.

The YouTube twosome decided to make an attempt at peace on O'Brien's show Friday -- the talk-show host even gave Booker $100,000 for Newark city development -- but the pair couldn't resist exchanging a few last-minute digs about each other.

"Tonight, we're going to try and end this thing," O'Brien said before Booker walked onstage. To keep Booker "calm," O'Brien set up cardboard cutouts of Newark's most famous buildings inside O'Brien's faux-outdoor landscape backdrop, prominently placing a replica of the New Jersey Performing Arts Center as well as the Pulaski Skyway bridge front-and-center on set.

But O'Brien couldn't keep his conciliatory tone long.

"As in real life, this bridge goes nowhere," the comic joked.

Booker embraced O'Brien when he walked on the stage, laughing and waving to the audience before he checked the seats for rigged prank devices. "Just checking," Booker said.

The two hashed out their issues in a conversation that started when O'Brien confronted Booker about his attacks, asking why the mayor selected him to fight against when thousands of Newark insults flew daily.

"As my fire director tells me, when there's a herd going after you, you have to sort of look at the weakest gazelle and you go at that one," Booker joked.

The two also joked about their respective hairstyles -- O'Brien's red, tangled mop against Booker's now-glistening bald head. O'Brien told Booker he "crossed the line" when he criticized the host's hair on YouTube and retaliated by showing a picture of Booker in 8th grade wearing a massive Afro.

But Booker quickly complimented O'Brien, letting audience members and the host know it was all in good fun.

"I actually love your show," the mayor said. "You make me laugh and I've always appreciated that," he said.

The "Tonight Show" host responded by pledging to stop insulting Booker's New Jersey city, telling the mayor he was creating a Newark Joke Jar that would require him to deposit $500 in an oversized glass box every time he made a joke in its expense.

But O'Brien couldn't resist one last jab at Booker's hometown.

"Every time the money goes in there, you can rest assured it's safe," O'Brien told Booker. "Because it isn't in Newark."

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