An era of late night is officially over.
When the conversation of who the best late night host of all time comes up, the answers differ depending on that person’s age. Johnny Carson always ranks high for inventing the format we know today, and has been rightly anointed as “the king of late night.” David Letterman is praised for flipping the format on its ear back in 1982 with the “anti-talk show.” But for the 90’s-2000’s generation of teenagers and young adults, Conan O’Brien has always been their talk show host, bringing into the mix was pure silliness. Whether it was a masturbating bear, a vomiting Kermit, a collection of bizarre mascots dunking a basket ball, or a puppet dog who insults people, it couldn’t be topped as far as laughs go.
His late night swan song opened up with an exit interview conducted by Homer Simpson. O’Brien of course has ties to The Simpsons, having been a writer on the show from 1992 until he got the late night gig in 1993. There’s even a nice dig at O’Brien’s crowning achievement as a writer on the show, which is the classic Monorail episode. This isn’t the first time O’Brien has been in The Simpsons universe either. He first interviewed Bart on the show back in 1993, when O’Brien really needed the exposure.
Next up, Will Ferrell stopped by via Zoom from the set of a (what we can only assume is) a fictional Batman film shooting in Boston. During the segment, it was pointed out that Ferrell also appeared on the final episodes of Late Night and The Tonight Show. So to save time, Ferrell pre-recorded some humorous goodbye speeches to future talk shows featuring O’Brien.
After some highlights of the last 11 years, O’Brien brought out Jack Black. For weeks, Black has been pumping us up with how he was going to bring it as the best guest of all time. We were expecting Black to literally bolt from the stage and make some crazy and breathless entrance like he always does on talk shows. Instead, Black came out hobbling with a cane and a boot on his foot. Turns out, Black was preparing such an entrance, complete with a pre-recorded segment that was being filmed the day before. However, in a sad twist of fate, as Black was pretending to injure himself, he actually managed to roll his ankle. The fake prop ambulance ended up going to CVS to go get bandages, thus meaning Black couldn’t do his big entrance. However, he still managed to “bring the thunder” with a rocking version of the Frank Sinatra classic, My Way.
The last 15 minutes featured O’Brien on a stool, not unlike how Johnny Carson said goodbye. He proceeded to shoutout his fans, his writers, his staff, TBS, Lorne Michaels, Andy Richter, his wife, and everyone else who made the show what it was for the past 28 years. And just as how he gave the advice on his final Tonight Show to not be cynical and to “be kind and amazing things will happen,” he left the crowd with some other sage advice. “It’s not easy to do,” he stated, “but try to do what you love, with people you love, and if you can manage that, it’s the definition of Heaven on Earth. I swear to God, it really is.”
And with that, he was gone. We’ll miss you for now, Coco. But we look forward to seeing what you do next on HBO Max.