Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Last Tonight Show With Conan O'Brien aka Coco

I could remember the very first episode of the Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien back in June '09. It seemed only like yesterday. Who knew seven months later, he would leave the show? That's the reality in American television; ratings is money. The last two weeks or so must have been very difficult for Conan. NBC gave him an ultimatum; Do your show at midnight or leave the network (with a fucking huge sum of money). Conan kept his integrity and didn't budge. So now, Jay "big jaw" Leno, as Dave Letterman calls him, will be the 'new' Tonight Show host come March, and Conan will not be allowed to go back on air until September. Maybe if Jay retired last year, there wouldn't be this shit.

Personally, I've always preferred Conan over Jay. His previous Late Night stint at New York had been absolutely incredible; I've never seen comedy like that before. I grew up watching Conan in my early youth. He's the man who gave us Triumph the Insult Comic Dog, the Masturbating Bear and many other wacky characters. I thought Conan would've been better off making the move to Hollywood. It certainly would've been nice to 'grow old with him' for at least fifteen more years. Seven months is just too damn short. But during this debacle, the outpouring of support for Coco had just been immense, with rallies all across America and on the internet.

Nevertheless, Conan decided to make the best of it by doing some of his best shows during this final week. Plenty of cracks at NBC, but none at his successor. He brought on some of the best guests one could imagine, my all time favorite director Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino, Robin Williams, Jeff Bridges, Tom Hanks, and also surprises like Ben Stiller and the always hilarious Steve Carrell.

I'll remember his final show for a long time to come. Neil Young played solo acoustic on Long May You Run. I couldn't think of a better tribute. It's moments like these when you go "This is the fucking reason why I watch television." Conan also gave an emotional final speech about his departure. I found the last part to be especially touching:

"To all the people watching, I can never thank you enough for your kindness to me and I’ll think about it for the rest of my life. All I ask of you is one thing: please don’t be cynical. I hate cynicism — it’s my least favorite quality and it doesn’t lead anywhere. Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get. But if you work really hard and you’re kind, amazing things will happen. As proof, let’s make an amazing thing happen right now.”

And with that, the show ended with a bang; an all-star performance of Free Bird, featuring Will Farrell on vocals, donning a hilarious blonde wig (trying to look like Ronnie Van Zandt), and wearing a Neil Young Tonight's The Night t-shirt as a sorta ironic joke. He was backed by the Tonight Show Band, with Max Weinberg on drums, Ben Harper on slide, Billy Gibbons on lead, and Beck on rhythm. Conan also played the guitar. If that wasn't awesome enough, Conan actually did a surprisingly good guitar solo towards the end. And of course, to make things even better, Will brought out the infamous cowbells!!!

Whew.....what a fucking show! I'm gonna miss you Coco....