Conan O’Brien admitted his show straddled the line between “smart” and “stupid.”
The talk-show host took the “Conan” stage for the final time Thursday, marking the end of a storied late-night career that spanned 28 years. The chat-fest icon marked the emotional occasion with a poignant — and fittingly sidesplitting — monologue, in which he thanked fans and colleagues for joining him on the ride.
“It’s hard to believe, it’s hard to say, it’s our final show on TBS,” O’Brien, 58, told the packed audience at the opening of his last ever show on the network. “Every night, I always said, ‘Tonight we have a really great show’ and I have to tell you, I was often lying.”
However, the Massachusetts native assured fans that “tonight we really do have a great show,” before cheekily adding, “And if we don’t, what are you going to do about it? I’ll be long gone.”
O’Brien’s heartfelt farewell also included a shout-out to his colleagues and crew, without whom he said “Conan” wouldn’t be possible.
“I am the beneficiary of literally hundreds and hundreds of amazing people and then I’m just the nose cone of the rocket,” gushed the late night legend. He then proceeded to thank everyone from the crew at TBS to his faithful on-air sidekick Andy Richter, whom he described as “one of the funniest people” he’d ever met.
O’Brien continued, “I am so grateful to all of my staff and to the fans in this country and around the world who have joined me in this really crazy and seemingly pointless pursuit to do things that are kind of stupid but have something smart in there somewhere and there’s a little tiny flicker of what is kind of magic.”
“My advice to anyone watching right now is it is not easy to do but try and do what you love with people you love, and if you can manage that, it’s the definition of heaven on earth,” concluded the quirky comic.
The “Conan” finale included a Zoom call from funnyman Will Ferrell and a moving compilation of his celebrity interviews over the years, which included chats with entertainment greats from Tom Hanks to Betty White.
One of final episode’s more uproarious moments entailed an animated segment, in which O’Brien has an exit interview with Homer Simpson, a tribute to his stint as a writer on the Matt Groening-created cartoon. The main gag involved Homer not knowing who Conan was despite working for TBS.
“Thank you, Homer. You mean the world to me,” cartoon O’Brien said in the sketch, to which Homer replied, “You mean the world to me, Conrad.”
The show concluded with Jack Black belting out an O’Brien-inspired sendup of “My Way” by Frank Sinatra.
The episode proved a fitting end to the comedian’s legendary late-night career, which started in 1993, when NBC commissioned the then budding comedy writer to take over David Letterman’s gig as host of “Late Night” in 1993. The former president of the “Harvard Lampoon” hosted the show, entitled “Late Night With Conan O’Brien” until 2009, when he took over the “The Tonight Show” for an eight-month period between 2009 and 2010. The Emmy winner then hosted “Conan” from 2010-2021.
O’Brien is currently slated to host a weekly HBO Max series that will air next year.
Reflecting on his epic late-night run, the talk show great said, “I honestly love hosting a late-night talk show. I always thought it was the job I was born to do. But every so often I like to try my hand at another career.”