The show kicked off with a brief and final string dance, amongst a roaring crowd, and a little signature self-effacing humor from the host: "We've done 2,725 shows -- 42 of them quite good." After a surprisingly funny video greeting from John Mayer, in which he sang a cautionary tale called "L.A. Will Eat You Alive", Will Ferrell was the first surprise guest. The longtime friend of the show came out as George W. Bush, but then quickly stripped off his suit to reveal the "Sexy Leprechaun" character he's tortured Conan with over the years, which was a big relief. I was pretty worried that maybe the week would go by without seeing Will Ferrell in neon green hot pants, which would have been a crime. Because he's not doing that at 11:30.
We finally got to see the classic "1864 Baseball" remote sketch -- another one I'd been waiting for all week -- and every Late Night fan's heart was surely broken when Conan had to release Abe Vigoda into the wild, crying, "Pa says I can't take you with me! Get!" Heartstrings! So much tugging! I really am going to miss Abe Vigoda.
The biggest "surprise" guest moment of the night, however, of course came from Andy Richter. The prodigal son returns! Conan and Andy hugged and exchanged some easy pleasantries, before launching into an awesome clip package of their greatest moments together (my favorite has always been the Dallas-style minisode).
After Andy left, Conan launched into a lengthy and heartfelt list of thank yous to all the people who made the show possible over the years, his voice breaking every so often but quickly recovered with some more self-effacing humor, as is his way. He thanked everyone -- the fans, the crew, the band, executive producer Jeff Ross, the writers, Lorne Michaels -- and a very special thank you to David Letterman, who of course invented the type of show Conan does, and helped legitimize Conan's hosting gig back when it wasn't going very well. He also thanked Jay Leno for always being a friend who encouraged his viewers to stay tuned for Conan, but he didn't say much about him as a comedian or a Tonight Show host. Interesting.
My favorite thing about Conan has always been the fact that he never panders. He never dumbs down his comedy -- he assumes his audience is as smart and weird as he is, and whether or not that will work at 11:30 has been discussed and doubted a lot lately. As for me, I think it can be summed up thusly: We may never see the Masturbating Bear again, but that was never Conan's best bit anyway. He's not going to stop being inherently hilarious just because he's replacing someone who had no problem watering down his humor and was successful doing so. I don't think Conan's the least bit interested in doing comedy he doesn't laugh at himself, and besides -- Letterman isn't either, and a lot of people still watch him at 11:30.
So, whatever happens with our Conesy in L.A., at least we had 16 years with an amazing and unapologetically original host. Farewell, Late Night with Conan O'Brien. May you and Pimpbot 5000 rest in peace.
Thoughts on the final taping? And the 11:30 move? Spill below!
MOST RECENT POSTS