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Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend | Dana Carvey

Laughter is the best medicine. It can also be a performance-enhancing drug. Let Conan take you to a happy place while you run. A place so happy that tears will be pouring down your cheeks as you laugh your way through the miles. Drivers will double-take and wonder why you are laughing not grimacing. So good you need to save it as a boost for days when you really need one.

I knew Conan was funny. He was a writer at Saturday Night Live and was also responsible for the best Simpsons episodes, but as I am a cordcutter (no cableTV for 10+ years) and someone who doesn’t love the late night show format, I hadn’t experienced much Conan recently. When I saw the podcast I thought I’d give it a go on a day when I needed to change things up. Turns out that as well as being the best medicine, laughter can be a performance-enhancing drug. The miles flew by and I laughed and laughed.

Apparently Eliud Kipchoge (sub 2hr marathon superhero runner) smiles while racing as the very act of smiling affects his parasympathetic nervous system and tells the body that you are in a relaxed state causing you to use less oxygen. Research published in the Psychology of Sport & Exercise reported the following highlights:


  • Smiling improved running economy in comparison with frowning and a control trial.
  • Perceived effort was higher when frowning in comparison with smiling and relaxing.
  • Periodic smiling may be an effective attentional cue to enhance running performance.


The episode we link to here is a conversation with Dana Carvey, also ex-Saturday Night Live and perhaps most famous for his role as Garth in Wayne’s World. It’s a great place to start. Honestly I ration the episodes, saving them for when I really need one to temptation bundle with a run that feels long or otherwise. Two more favorites if you are looking for different entry points to start are the episodes with Lin Manuel Miranda and Charles Barkley.




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