THE RICHTER SCALE Johnny had Ed. Dave has Paul. Conan has Andy Richter, and he's more than just a sidekick -- he's a second banana with appeal all his own Andy Richter died his first time on TV -- he played a serial killer's victim for a Hard Copy reenactment -- so being murdered by sharp-tongued reviewers wasn't anything new for him. "I think the early criticism actually helped us," says Conan's 28-year-old sidekick. "It gave the college kids who discovered us something to rebel against." Richter has overcome such labels as "ballast" to provide a seemingly endless supply of sarcastic quips and offbeat bits (he's played Elizabeth Taylor and both Roseanne and Tom Arnold in self-penned parodies). When he takes the stage, studio audiences chant An-dee! a sign that Richter is one big reason Late Night is hot now. "We're getting better," he admits. "That'll come when you do something 600 times. In the beginning, we were on constant heart-attack alert. Now it's 'Honey, I'm off to work.'" The former Chicago improv actor and star of the kitsch-classic stage show The Real Live Brady Bunch, says he refuses to let his nearly instantaneous ascent to stardom go to his head. "I love the opportunity to perform, but it's still a job," he says. "I'm married [to actress Sarah Thyre] and have responsibilities. It's not as important as my personal life. Besides, I think we have this down. It's not old hat, but it is broken in." -- Mike Hammer

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