Well folks, it has come to this. The final episode of The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien aired tonight (or as I like to refer to it – The Tonight Show with the Only Funny Host It’s Had Besides Johnny Carson) with guests Tom Hanks, Will Ferrell, and musical guest Neil Young.
But tonight wasn’t really about the guests. Tonight was about the pale-faced warrior himself, Conan O’Brien, and his last night on television to entertain us as a host for at least seven months.
Way back in 1993, a young man named Conan O’Brien auditioned to take over the reigns of Late Night after David Letterman jumped ship to CBS after a dispute with the network. With much assistance from Saturday Night Live executive producer Lorne Michaels, Conan was able to obtain the show. After three or four years of struggling to find his niche, Conan became extremely popular with the young college-aged crowd specifically with his knack for off-the-wall comedy and experimental humor.
When Conan was finally announced to take over The Tonight Show, many people (myself included) were ecstatic. And now ever since the whole “Late Night Shuffle” (I’ll spare everyone with the well-known details), it looks like this was the last show tonight for Mr. O’Brien after only seven months of some of the most inventive and funny bits in quite some time.
So, the show specifically? How was it tonight? Well, simply put it was a very classy and beautiful way to go out for the Cone Zone. After a monologue poking fun at the whole ordeal (which has become somewhat of a mainstay these past few weeks) followed by a great montage of Conan’s Tonight Show moments, Conan gave a number of suggestions about what NBC could do with the studio with it being vacated now.
Following this, Steve Carell made a delightful appearance as an NBC executive to administer an exit interview with Conan (“How was your time spent at NBC? Positive? Very Positive? Or Extremely Positive?”).
The guests were delightful. After Tom Hanks got Conan feeling a little woozy on cream soda, he talked about the history he had with Coco and cracked wise with him for a solid fifteen minutes. It should be noted that Hanks can be credited with the aforementioned nickname for Conan and it is sure to be one that will stick for a long time.
Surprisingly, Conan’s second guest was Neil Young performing and he was, as always, quite wonderful.
Then it was time for Conan to speak seriously.
While on the verge of tears, Conan announced to everyone that he had the best time in his life in these past seven months. Of course, in usual classy fashion, he was quick to point out that he did not blame anyone for the fiasco and that it was a decision he ultimately just had to make. He relayed the message to everyone not to be cynical and to instead to just work really hard and be kind to others because it will all pay off. For God sakes, he even thanked NBC for all they’ve done for him over the past 20 years. The man has butt-loads of class.
The show then ended with a bang as Will Ferrell, Beck, ZZ Top, Max Weinberg, and Conan himself performed “Freebird” for the live audience. Ferrell stopped between a few verses to mack on some pregnant blond chick that accompanied him on stage, but the song was performed very genuinely and if you looked closely, you could see Conan crack a smile and sigh deeply.
I will be the first one to admit that I have not been the most avid watcher of The Tonight Show as I should have been, but this episode was a truly wonderful way to go out for Conan O’Brien and I hope that he only has good things ahead in his future for the benefit of him and his family.
Farewell, Coco. Thanks for the laughs.
Thanks for the memories.