April 11, 2002 11:00 AM

Andy Richter may have a hit with his new Fox series, “Andy Richter Controls the Universe,” but the chunky comic, 35, still feels somewhat bereft after having left NBC’s “Late Night,” where he served as Conan O’Brien’s sidekick. As Richter told PEOPLE: “I miss the work atmosphere . . . getting together with a bunch of friends and putting on silly show and hoping people come to see it. That is pretty much the definition of ‘Late Night with Conan OBrien.’ Now I’ve entered the grownup world.” On his show, says Richter, the atmosphere, he says, “(is more like) ‘Come on, get serious. We have to quit screwing around and make some comedy. Whereas on the Conan show, the head writer would say, ‘C’mon guys we have to get this written,’ and two minutes later he is throwing rubber balls out the ninth story window onto 6th Avenue to watch them bounce.” Still, the “Late Night” experience left him with some valuable tips for getting through life. “Having two celebrities a day for seven years, five days a week, traipsing through your life — it sort of gives you the gift of being unimpressed. I figure if they can do it, I can do it, because some one them seem like they can’t even tie their shoes.”

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