“Ladies and Gentlemen, we have exactly one hour to steal every single item in this studio,” is how Conan O’Brien (aka Coco) started his last monologue of his 7 month run on the Tonight Show. Since this debachle over time slots started over two weeks ago, when Conan wouldn’t host the show if it was moved back from its original time slot at 11:35pm to 12:05am (basically turning that into the Tomorrow Show). As someone who has been watching Coco since the age of 14, I didn't take this change lightly.
Since the announcement that Conan would be replaced by Leno, fans gathered around NBC Los Angeles and 30 Rock to protest the move, standing in the rain and cold and holding signs that confess they’re on “Team Coco;” a sight that had made his farewell inspirational rather than bitter. Even President Obama is on Team Coco. What I don't understand is, if NBC has been making massive mistakes with their programming, why aren't the executives listening to the President to solve their problems? I'm looking at you, Jeff Zucker. (CEO at NBC)
Throughout his last week on The Tonight Show, Conan had mercilessly made fun of Jay Leno, NBC and its executives, but in the end, he gave a heartfelt speech, full of inspiration and class from his desk, where he asked his young viewers to not be cynical and to be kind in order to achieve amazing things. It was at this point where I released one stoic tear. As well as giving an inspirational plea to his audience, Coco acknowledged his years working for the network:
“Between my time at Saturday Night Live, The Late Show and my brief run here on The Tonight Show, I have worked with NBC for over twenty years. Yes, we have had our differences, and yes we’re going out separate ways. But this company has been my home for most of my adult life. I am enormously proud of the work we have done together, and I want to thank NBC for making it all possible.”
The final guests on the show were friends, Tom Hanks, Neil Young (a Canadian treasure) and Will Farrell—who he joined on guitar playing Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Free Bird.” Which I would like to add that Coco can shred a mean guitar.
Although the terms of Conan’s exodus prevents him from hosting his own show for the next 7 months, he has become a hotter commodity with many suitors like, FX, MTV, TNT and Fox all looking for a spot on their network. Until that 7 months is up, Conan joked that you will see him as Andy Richter's sidekick. Leno, who is seen as the villain by other hosts, Jimmy Kimmel and David Letterman, will be reinstated as the host of the Tonight Show on March 1 after the Vancouver Olympics.
To give Coco a proper farewell is to quote John Lithgow from Harry and the Hendersons and say, "Goodbye, my friend."