An Ode to Late Night with Conan O’Brien

2009 March 6

Before you bother reading any of the following, you should probably read this, since it’s better than anything I could ever write: A.V. Club’s Goodbye. And I know an “ode” is supposed to be a poem, but I like the word and I’m not a poetry-writing faggot like Dante, OK?

I am a part of the Conan generation — also known as the Daily Show generation. But I connected with Conan first. He was that crazy guy with the fat sidekick on way too late, way past my bedtime. His hour of television every night contained some of the stupidest stuff I had seen in my young life. Where else would you see a terrible impersonator’s mouth superimposed upon a static picture of Arnold Schwarzenegger? Where else would you witness a bit about the future (In The Year 2000) continue even after that future had arrived? Where else would you see a dog puppet publicly humiliate hundreds of people over a long and storied career? Where else would you see a coked-up werewolf or masturbating bear?

Conan personified the wacky and self-deprecating humor that I have centered my entire life around. I don’t think I ever consciously decided to be like Conan O’Brien, but I don’t doubt it had an all-encompassing effect on my young mind. Why else would I have made a list of “Reasons Why I Suck” on my old LiveJournal? That was just my own form of joking about getting cancelled.

I would be lying if I said I watched the show religiously, but at least until I hit college – if I was up at the time which used to seem so late – I was watching Conan. He was so much better than the dude with the chin before him, and the old guy over at CBS. Yes, I am exaggerating my feelings towards those two, especially since I’ve always somewhat enjoyed Letterman, but Conan was the show seemingly reserved for me and my fellow teenagers.

And while it may have been a blow to the show for Andy Ritcher to leave right in the middle of its 15-year run, it allowed Conan to play off the audience more, and to utilize his band in his antics – of which the former was never more on display than during the writer’s strike just over a year ago. Conan was at his absolute best coming up with inane activities to fill up the time, such as spinning a coin. He spun a motherfucking coin on television. Every night. Who else would be able to pull that stunt and not only get away with it, but absolutely enthrall his audience? Never again will I enjoy a late show as much as I reveled in the shit Conan pulled every night.

Now I officially begin the cycle of growing old. I watched Jimmy Fallon’s first night as host of Late Night, and thought – like many other people – that it was godawful. This must be how Letterman fans felt when Conan took over, but at least I have the moral high ground of being able to form my hate over his many years on SNL. I will even admit that his impressions – particularly his Adam Sandler in a certain Celebrity Jeopardy skit – are pretty decent, but Fallon is a horrific talk-host show. Jesus Christ.

So I eagerly await Conan’s new beginning at The Tonight Show in L.A., but we all know it won’t be the same. An hour and over 2000 miles will make all the difference. In memoriam, I give you the final pull of the Walker, Texas Ranger lever, something we will never see again:

Related posts:

  1. Awesome Late Night with Conan O’Brien Bloopers
  2. Jimmy Fallon to Take Over for Conan on “Late Night”
  3. Conan O’Brien Doesn’t Need Writers