by Julian Spivey
Conan O’Brien brought his third late night TV talk show, “Conan,” to an end on TBS on Thursday, June 24 after more than 10 years at the network with a lot of great memories.
It’s hard to believe O’Brien, one of the funniest comedians in the history of late night talk shows, had been at the network for more than a decade since his unceremonious departure from NBC, which was his home for almost two decades, when the network and Jay Leno frankly screwed him out of “The Tonight Show” gig.
I’ve always been a great admirer of O’Brien. When I was in my teens in high school and college, I would love flipping over to NBC to see his wacky version of smart-dumb humor on ‘Late Night’ after finishing up my all-time favorite David Letterman’s ‘Late Show’ on CBS. Particularly in college toward the end of his run on ‘Late Night’ I greatly enjoyed watching his antics with my brother/roommate and friend/roommate.
But I must admit I didn’t keep up with “Conan” that much on TBS and it’s something I frankly regret. He kinda became the forgotten man over on basic cable for me as I spent my time watching the network late night talk shows on CBS and NBC (mostly because this website has had a decade-plus running awards for broadcast network shows, which “Conan” didn’t qualify for). O’Brien never changed at TBS. He was still one of the funniest guys on TV, I just became either a worse fan or more likely an adult with a full-time job and life that made it harder to keep up with all my likes and interests. While I didn’t keep up with “Conan” enough I did become a huge fan of his podcast “Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend” over the last couple of years and I highly recommend it. It’s truly one of the funniest and best all-around podcasts out there. I’m also thankful his “Conan Without Borders” specials are available to stream on HBO Max, because they are an absolute delight, and I haven’t seen even a fraction of them and intend to go over to the platform and catch up.
Between his gigs at “The Tonight Show” and “Conan” O’Brien did a comedy tour, in which a highly entertaining documentary “Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop” came out of and that title couldn’t be truer of the lovable Irish boy-giant. You see O’Brien isn’t ready to give up and retire. The end of “Conan” is more TBS giving up on the talk show game and O’Brien taking his talents over to streaming on HBO Max for a new show that will be more variety show than anything his done in his nearly 30 years on late night TV. There won’t be guest interviews and such, which is kind of a shame, but it’ll likely give O’Brien plenty of opportunity to ham it up as he does best. The show doesn’t yet have a premiere date or even a title, but I can’t wait for it.
Back to “Conan” though.
I did tune in for Thursday night’s finale because I felt like I owed O’Brien at least that much and it’s always emotional to see someone you like bring something that’s so close to them to an end.
The finale was your standard type of late night talk show finale like we’ve seen in the past. O’Brien showed a whole lot of clips of his best moments on TBS, which really made me regret not keeping up with the show enough this past decade. He thanked his crew and his family for all the hard work and sacrifices made to allow him to make the show. There were terrific tributes from Will Ferrell via Zoom and Jack Black, his final guest in studio. It was an all-around lovely sendoff for his final late night talk show.
In the final minutes of the show in a moment that made him a bit misty-eyed, and honestly did the same for me too, O’Brien left his audience with this lovely thought: “Try and do what you love with people you love. If you can manage that, it’s heaven on earth.”