TVGuide.com said the West Coast broadcast of Tuesday night's show featured 23 minutes of uninterrupted commercials. When the episode returned it was pixilated, then it cleared up and started running backward very quickly.
O'Brien apologized on Wednesday's episode for the "very messed-up version" of Tuesday's show.
"It was sort of a travesty -- but we made a fortune," O'Brien quipped, referring to the slew of TV ads that aired in place of his show.
Blaming the trouble on a "technical glitch" at TBS' Atlanta headquarters, O'Brien then ran a comical re-enactment of his theory of what went awry, showing network employees as hillbillies dumping "possum chili" on the "Conan West Coast feed machine," TVGuide.com said.