After 16 years, Conan O’Brien concluded his Late Night run last night. Will Ferrell-as-George Bush strolled on to thank O’Brien for years of “humortastical wonderment,” and the host’s former sidekick Andy Richter crowed, “I told you you’d never last without me!” Together, O’Brien and Richter showed us a lengthy number of skits, most memorably Richter’s nude appearance on The Today Show.
There was music: John Mayer wrote an original song that included the lyric, “LA’s gonna eat you alive,” while the White Stripes did a lovely version of “We’re Going To Be Friends.”
Fascinatingly, O’Brien went through a long, gracious list of people he wanted to thank, including producer Lorne Michaels for taking a guy “with no television experience and bad skin” and giving him a show. He spoke fondly and respectfully of Jay Leno, who, Conan said, would “continue to be my lead-in.” But it was David Letterman upon whom he lavished his greatest praise, saying that Letterman “invented this late-night show… it all started with David Letterman.” Clearly, from the cascade of clips, it was Letterman’s sense of the absurd that O’Brien has always keyed into most keenly.
Finally, his voice cracking, Conan assured his audience he would “never grow up” in taking over The Tonight Show. His audience cheered O’Brien’s perpetual adolescence. He’s the cool-cat Peter Pan of late-night.
Did you watch? What did you think?