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The Long, Strange Trip of Andy Richter

20 Aug, 2009 By: John Latchem

Andy Richter as Andy Barker

There once was a time when sidekick extraordinaire Andy Richter hoped for a solo career.

You’ll remember Richter as the pudgy second banana to Conan O’Brien on the latter’s “Lane Night” talk show starting in 1993. Richter left the show in 2000 to take on television as a leading man, starring in three short-lived sitcoms before returning to the sidekick gig with Conan on “The Tonight Show.” I’ve always enjoyed Conan’s brand of off-the-wall humor, and seeing Richter re-join him on “The Tonight Show” was a pleasant surprise. (He even serves as the announcer this time around, too … shades of Ed McMahon).


So Andy’s back where he belongs, but what a fun trip he took to get there.

After leaving “Late Night,” Richter landed the cult hit “Andy Richter Controls the Universe,” which lasted for 19 episodes on Fox from 2002-03 before being canceled (it was released on DVD by Paramount/CBS earlier this year).

Next up was the family sitcom “Quintuplets,” which lasted 22 episodes on Fox from 2004-05, featuring Richter as a husband and father to five children. Richter’s role on this show always seemed weird to me, probably because I never thought of him in the context of a traditional sitcom.

After that went away, Richter ended up as the title character in “Andy Barker, P.I.,” which was co-created by his old pal Conan O’Brien. The series ran for six episodes on NBC in 2007, with Richter as a CPA who is confused for the private detective who used to occupy his storefront office. Shout! Factory releases Andy Barker, P.I. — The Complete Series Nov. 17, with several featurettes and commentaries for $24.99.

Among the übergeek crowd, the show is known for an obscure crossover with “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” thanks to writer Jane Espenson (who has moved on to produce “Caprica”), making one of Andy’s cases involve the murdered founder of a fast food chain where the famed vampire slayer once worked.


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