Conan O’Brien ends late-night show Conan with snark, gratitude

Published 25 Jun, 2021 10:34am

He has wrapped up his show after 11 years on air.

Conan O’Brien stayed true to form as he wrapped his TBS show Conan after nearly 11 years, bouncing between self-deprecating and smart-aleck humour before allowing himself a touch of sentiment.

“Try to do what you love with people you love, and if you can manage that, it’s the definition of heaven on Earth,” he said, marking the end of his third late-night show over 28 years. It’s a tenure second only to Johnny Carson’s 30 years on Tonight.

O’Brien’s next venture is a weekly variety series for HBO Max, set to arrive in 2022 with an as-yet unannounced format.

The hour-long Conan finale Thursday was largely a trip down memory lane with clips of guests including Steve Martin, Tom Hanks and Sarah Silverman, and highlights of specials taped outside the United States. Will Ferrell appeared by Zoom from Boston, with Jack Black on hand to salute O’Brien.

Ferrell noted that he’s been a guest for the conclusions of O’Brien’s previous shows, Late Night With Conan O’Brien and Tonight, both on NBC but with widely varying runs: the former from 1993 to 2009, the latter for less than eight months in 2009-10.

“It’s kind of become a tradition,” O’Brien said of Ferrell’s presence.

“It’s become (expletive) exhausting,” Ferrell replied. He then proceeded to perform farewells that he suggested O’Brien should bank for probable future need, including for his new HBO Max series.

“People would say six episodes isn’t a lot, but you packed enough entertainment in them for eight episodes,” Ferrell said. He then lauded him for a string of projected talk show flops on Al Jazeera and Delta Airlines, and his YouTube “classic unboxing videos.”

O’Brien, a writer for The Simpsons in his salad days, sat for his exit interview with surprise HR rep Homer Simpson, who was unimpressed when he was reminded that O’Brien was a talk show host.

“Wow, a dying breed,” the animated character replied. “There’s only like 800 of you left.”

Black limped onto the stage wearing an orthopaedic boot, which he and O’Brien explained was because of a badly sprained ankle Black suffered during pre-taping of what was supposed to be a big-finish action and dancing skit.

In its place, Black serenaded O’Brien and his longtime sidekick Andy Richter with revamped lyrics set to the signature Frank Sinatra standard, 'My Way'.

“Conan, you are my friend. You are the best, and so is Andy,” Black sang, switching up the lyrics to honour “Con’s way.”

The host, whose gravity-defying, trademark swoop of red hair has remained unchanged through the years, wrapped up the show with heartfelt thanks to his colleagues, family and fans. He also shared a slice of philosophy.

”I have devoted all of my adult life, all of it, to pursuing this strange, phantom intersection between smart and stupid,” things he said many people believe can’t coexist. But when the two come together, he said, there is a tiny flicker of “what is a kind of magic.”

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