The curious case of Conan O'Brien - VIDEO
by Danny Gallagher, posted Feb 23rd 2009 1:02PM
Conan O'Brien's final Late Night ended on a bold note, one that didn't involve animals doing things that would get humans arrested or Abe Vigoda being the best damn Abe Vigoda he can be. In fact, the only way it was remotely funny is if you are one of those douchebags who heckles a comic for building a serious moment or still thinks yelling "Do 'Freebird'!" in between songs at a concert is funny. You know who you are.
It was a serious and heartfelt moment for a show that some naysayers claim is already too silly and asinine for its audience. He put these stuck-up snobs in their rightful place and taught all who watched an important lesson about being true to yourself, especially in the face of those who say it's a big mistake.
And this from a show that features a bear that masturbates on cue. Suck on that, Hallmark Channel.
The show's final week and the final episode featured a cluster of greatest hits, triumphant returns and fond memories of favorite bits. Then ol' "Cone-Bone" brought it down and got serious, a rare moment for the zany showman. The moment ran past its normal slot time and bled into Carson Daly's show, so nothing of value was lost.
He poured heartfelt thanks to everyone who stood by him during the show's dark first days including his show staff and family. Then he spoke to the detractors, the narrow-sighted soothsayers who have been saying that he would have to smarten up if he wanted to win the hearts and minds of The Tonight Show audience, including me and my big mouth.
He didn't talk down to those who disagreed or disliked him. He was honest and, more importantly, himself. It reminded me of why Conan's show worked so well these past 16 years. It was an important reminder for all of us who strive to be creative in life and how we should do what we do. His actions spoke volumes for everyone in that category from millionaire conceptual artists who fling elephant dung on copies of the Mona Lisa down to the guy who plays "The Glow-worm" on the trombone in subways for pocket lint.
A person can listen to all the critics and cynics and try to win them over by tailoring their work to meet their tastes. They can hire focus groups to analyze all the wrong things and then water down their creations until they drown in the hope of winning a few extra eyeballs. But in the end, the only thing they will truly accomplish is the destruction of their own identity for the sake of a few people who still wouldn't like them if they surgically altered their personality.
The shows, the writers and really the people who achieve the most are the ones who stay truest to themselves and their talents, and refuse to sacrifice their hard work for the sake of those who say it doesn't work for them.
I, for one, hope we can all stay as young as Conan will be this summer.