This morning I woke up to an empty DVR, and it finally hit me that there was no more Conan O'Brien. If you count The Simpsons (which you should), I've been watching him on TV for over 15 years, and I'm actually pretty sad about what went on with this whole Late Night shitshow.
Let me break it down for those of you who are blind, deaf, Amish, too broke to pay their electric bill or all of the above:
Conan had been with NBC for around 20 years, writing for SNL and then hosting Late Night. Leno hosted The Tonight Show beginning in 1992. Jay Leno seceded to Conan in 2009, and Late Night was passed down to Jimmy Fallon (who sucks, BTW). When Conan took over, NBC gave Leno his own 10pm talk show, which forced them to move around time slots for some shows and cancel others. Everyone soon figured out that Jay Leno is miserably unfunny and his ratings, along with Conan's and everything else on NBC, took a serious nosedive.
NBC tried to rectify this by fucking shit up even more. They decided to move Leno back to 11:35 and give him a half-hour show, and move Conan's Tonight Show to 12:05. Conan refused, which gave him no other option other than to leave the network. They finally came to a settlement in which they paid Conan off and told him not to return to TV for seven months, and gave Leno back his old show. Entertainment Weekly referred to the move as the "Biggest TV Bomb Ever," and everyone in Hollywood made fun of the network in award show acceptance speeches, late night monologues, gossip columns, etc.
Maybe the worst part of all this is that the contract also states that NBC gets to keep all of Conan's characters. This includes Triumph, Masturbating Bear, Vomiting Kermit, etc- what the fuck is Leno going to do with all of those? I can't believe I'm saying this, but I hope we never see them again.
Everyone I know is definitely on Team Coco. Jay Leno came out looking like a manipulative a-hole, and the network execs are most definitely the biggest jackasses to ever work in any form of media. So, to honor Conan O'Brien and the funniest TV hours of my young adult life, I've compiled a list of his Top 20 Greatest Moments, in no particular order. Observe:
The Simpsons: "I Love Lisa"- Technically Conan was really behind the scenes of this episode because he was a producer, but it's my blog and what I say goes. This is one of my top 10 Simpsons episodes- it's the one where Lisa gives a valentine to Ralph because she feels sorry for him, and he falls in love with her and takes her to the Krusty the Klown show. There are like 50 classic lines, including the one that Ralph reads from the card itself: "You choo-choo-choose me! And there's a picture of a train." That's fucking hysterical- I actually bought a t-shirt that says that. I can't even write all the funny moments here because it takes up too much space, but you can probably catch it on TV this Valentine's Day because FOX re-airs it every year.
The Simpsons: "Bart Gets Famous"- This is the "I Didn't Do It Boy" episode of The Simpsons, back when the show was still funny. Conan makes a brief, animated appearance as himself, when Bart appears on Late Night and realizes that his 15 minutes is up. It's classic.
Conan Talks Joe Buck Into Saying "Jub-Jub"on the Air- One of my favorite Late Night interviews was with sportscaster Joe Buck in 2007- it combined baseball with a great Simpsons episode. Conan is from Massachusetts and a self-proclaimed Red Sox fan, and this was the year of the Sox-Rockies World Series. Joe Buck was going to call the Series, and Conan told him that he would donate $1,000 to Buck's favorite charity if he would find a way to throw in the name "Jub-Jub" on the air during one of the telecasts (Simpsons fans will recall that "Jub-Jub" is the pet iguana of Marge's sisters and a creation of Conan himself). Hilariously, in the bottom of the third inning of Game One, Buck called Chris Meyers "our own little Jub-Jub." It was priceless.
Masturbating Bear- Out of all Conan's characters, I think I might miss Masturbating Bear the most after Triumph. He was a dude in a terrible bear costume wearing something that resembled a gigantic penis. He would come out in random intervals and basically jiggle the penis around like he was a bear who masturbated. It made no sense, but it was about half a minute of me laughing my ass off.
Triumph Goes To A Star Wars Premiere- The greatest of all Conan's characters was hands-down Triumph the Insult Comic Dog. Triumph was the creation of comic mastermind Robert Smigel (who also does TV Funhouse on Saturday Night Live), a bad dog puppet with a cigar that kept falling out of its mouth. Triumph came on the show occasionally to be a "correspondent" at different events such as dog shows, telethons, a Bon Jovi concert and, my personal favorite, a Star Wars premiere. He was hysterical and insulted everyone. The best line was when he asked a pregnant fan when her due date was, and told her that that was the last time her baby would ever see female genitalia. I died. Seriously, everyone go out and buy his DVD. I got it for my dad and he watched it 10 times in a week.
Apple Picking with Mr. T- Mr. T used to make occasional appearances on Conan's show where he would just show up and be awesome. The best one was where they randomly went apple picking. Mr. T basically just yelled at the apples, and then squashed a bee. It was great. Mr. T rules.
Conan Sells The Tonight Show on Craigslist- When Conan's negotiations with The Tonight Show were were still ongoing, he posted an actual ad to sell The Tonight Show on Craiglist and read some of the responses on the air. Some girl offered her cat, someone else wanted to trade for his guitar, and- my favorite- one guy had an autographed photo of Kato Kaelin. The ad is gone now, but I checked Craigslist the day after this aired and it was actually there. Stuff like that is why I will always love Conan.
"If They Mated"- If They Mated was a hilarious sketch on Late Night where Conan would take two celebrities and find out what would happen if their genetics mashed and they made a kid. Unfortunately for them, it was always really literal, and the results were fucking hilarious. He even made a book about it, and it was just as funny on paper.
Buy The Book
"Celebrity Survey"- Celebrity Survey, another skit on Late Night, was a bunch of questionnaires that Conan "mailed" to different famous people that supposedly answered them. It would have life questions with two random celebrities' "serious" answers and one ridiculous one. One of my recent favorites:
"My favorite website for shopping is: Julianne Moore wrote, 'Bluefly.' Brian Williams wrote, 'Brookstone.' Madonna wrote, 'Afrobaby Direct.'"
"In The Year 2000"- Sometimes when Conan had a guest on that was a semi-regular he would do a skit called "In the Year 2000," where he would make predictions about what would happen in the future. He would usually have the guest help him out, and when he hosted The Tonight Show, Andy Richter did it with him. The best part was that once 2000 rolled around, he didn't change the name, so it was even greater. Once he moved to The Tonight Show, he switched it to In The Year 3000, which kind of ruined it a little bit, but it was still funny. PS- there's a book for this one, too.
Buy The Book
Vomiting Kermit- Vomiting Kermit was a Kermit the Frog doll that was rolled out on a table spewing something that looked suspiciously like vomit. So, not just a clever name, but two thumbs up nonetheless.
The Ass Stamp- A lot of Conan's greatest moments were the interactions between him and Max Weinberg, which unfortunately got lost in the shuffle when he transitioned to The Tonight Show. Some of the best of these were when he said something to trick Max, and a big "ASS" stamp splashed across Max's face. Maybe I'm a three-year-old, but I cracked up every time. ASS!
The "Walker, Texas Ranger" Lever- Everyone knows that Walker, Texas Ranger is a terrible show (except my mom, for some inexplicable reason), but Conan really embraced it. His desk at Late Night had a lever next to it that, when pulled, cut to a random clip from Walker that was so stupid and out of context that you couldn't help but love it. The best clip had Walker telling that kid from The Sixth Sense that he had AIDS. It's so wrong to laugh, but I couldn't help it.
William Shatner- William Shatner, who's pretty awesome anyway, made random appearances on both Conan's shows, but the most memorable was his dramatic reading of Levi Johnston's Twitter posts on The Tonight Show. Levi Johnston is such a tremendous loser, and Shatner's beatnik style sketch was great. The best part was his deadpan "LMAO" at the end. I think I may have had tears in my eyes.
Triumph Goes to Quebec- Conan did his show in Toronto for a week, and there were a bunch of great jokes that went with it. The best one was when he sent Triumph to Quebec, and he made fun of the entire city. The greatest moment featured Triumph asking some guy if he was a separatist, and when he responded in the affirmative, Triumph suggested that he might want to separate himself from doughnuts. What made this bit even better was that French people actually got pissed that they were being made fun of by a PUPPET. I don't know where his writers come up with this shit.
The Writer's Strike Episodes- The 2007-2008 TV Season suffered pretty horribly due to the Writers' Guild of America strike. Most of the shows on the air cut their season short, aired repeats and pretty much sucked. Conan took full advantage of the fact that he had no writing staff and basically did whatever the hell he wanted until they came back. He grew a beard, rode a zipline and spun his ring on his desk. Maybe the funniest creation was his mock feud with Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, where each claimed that he was responsible for Mike Huckabee's popularity in his political campaign. It escalated on all three shows and finally culminated in a hilarious, staged brawl on Late Night. It was great.
Joel Godard- Joel Godard was the announcer on Late Night that they sometimes used in sketches as well. This dude was seriously disturbed- everything he made an appearance in had to do with gay Asian sex slaves, weird facial expressions, bondage and/or diapers or thongs. The funniest ones included also Max Weinberg and his perversions. The Tonight Show was definitely lacking when they lost him.
Norm MacDonald's Tonight Show Appearance- After it was announced that Conan would no longer host The Tonight Show, random celebrities would make appearances to bring Conan presents or just to express their appreciation and tell NBC to suck it. The greatest example was when Norm MacDonald showed up with a gift basket, belatedly congratulating Conan on his long future hosting The Tonight Show. He pulled out decades-old jokes and referred to Conan as "the new king of late night," and no one on set could keep a straight face. This man needs his own show.
All the videos for this have been pulled. What a shock!
The Bugatti Veyron Mouse- It's pretty obvious that NBC pulled the grandfather of fuck-ups- even CBS' late night programming makes fun of them. The last week of Conan's Tonight Show duties were probably the funniest moments of TV I've ever seen, where he told his audience that they were going to do things on the air that weren't so much funny as "crazy expensive." The one I liked the most was where he borrowed a Bugatti Veyron car and dressed it up like a mouse while he played a master recording of the "Rolling Stones' "Satisfaction." The car and the music were funny enough, but the fact that he put a mouse costume on it was totally ridiculous. The best part was that NBC was left scrambling to take it off of Youtube because they had to pay royalties to the Stones every time the song was played. Haha. Losers.
Conan's Final Tonight Show Appearance- Conan O'Brien has always been hysterical. I don't know how his mind became so warped, but I've definitely benefitted from it. Everyone is pissed at NBC for fucking him the way they did- I may even stop watching the channel altogether (Heroes sucks now, and I can DVR Chuck). In what was most likely a last ditch effort to redeem themselves, Conan was given free range to say whatever he wanted on his final Tonight Show appearance, and instead of telling NBC to shove it up their ass, he made a dignified farewell speech and handled the situation with class and grace. He thanked the network, he thanked his fans, and he even cried a little while he essentially told people not to blame NBC. Conan came out on top, and the network came out looking like even bigger jackasses than they already did. Nice going, douches.
It was really hard to narrow it down- I'm sure I left out a few. These next seven months are going to be tough, but at least we have reruns, and each other. Go Team Conan!