In China, Conan O'Brien recently joined the ranks of Louis Vuitton bags, Air Jordan shoes and Apple stores as the latest object of copycats' desire: The animated opening sequence to his TBS talk show was "ripped off," as he put it, for the intro to the online comedy show "Da Peng Debade" on the Chinese Internet portal Sohu.
Rather than sparking another fight between the United States and the Middle Kingdom over intellectual property rights, the incident has instead become a source of comedy for O'Brien and his Chinese counterpart Da Peng.
The exchange began last week, when O'Brien showed the two intro sequences side by side during a segment on "Conan," his late-night TBS series. Other than a few small changes, including the names of the hosts, the animation was essentially the same. "This is absurd," O'Brien said. "To make matters worse, it's a really weird show."
O'Brien then screened a clip of "Da Peng Debade" featuring Da Peng doing a monologue, while a picture of what appears to be shirtless Sohu chief executive Charles Zhang was superimposed on the screen.
"Well, China, if you're going to rip off my show, I think I should rip off their show, don't you?" O'Brien said, followed by a Team Coco parody of the previous clip that included sidekick Andy Richter in a Qing Dynasty outfit.
The whole thing might have ended there, but it hasn't. O'Brien's skit prompted Da Peng to remove his copycat opening sequence and replace it last week with essentially nothing.
"I have lost face for the Chinese people," the comic said at the start of his weekly show, whose title roughly translates as "Da Peng Gabfest." "I'm very sorry." He followed that up with a "Sorry Dance."