Conan O’Brien says farewell to late night TV with class

Conan O'Brien (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for WarnerMedia)
Conan O'Brien (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for WarnerMedia) /

After 28 years in late night television, Conan O’Brien said goodbye last night. Conan aired its final episode as O’Brien looked to the next chapter in his comedy career.

The night didn’t have the same type of energy or the same tone fans saw when O’Brien closed out Late Night or The Tonight Show. However, that was by design as Team Coco instead chose to reflect on the past 11 years at TBS with a reserved grace.

Over the past few weeks, montages were put together highlighting fan-favorite sketches and interviews. But Conan never went over the top or looked to throw itself a giant going away party. Instead, the late night show chose to invite back the people that made the show what it was with the hope that the work would speak for itself. And between O’Brien’s podcast and forthcoming HBO Max show, there was a conscious effort to avoid any feeling of finality regarding Team Coco.

Instead, O’Brien used the moment to thank several people for giving him a career and a family. His farewell to late night TV was a signature blend of heartfelt sincerity, self-deprecation, and class.

Conan O’Brien thanks everyone who made his late night TV career happen

Conan O’Brien got his start as a writer, working on shows like Saturday Night Live and The Simpsons. So he has a genuine appreciation for those people behind the scenes who put in the work to be creative night in and night out. It also helps that, by all accounts, he is a genuinely kind and compassionate person. During his farewell speech, that all came through as he thanked the Team Coco staff and writers for their tireless efforts over the past 11 years.

Andy Richter also received some well-deserved praise from O’Brien. As unknowns, the two started together on Late Night with Conan O’Brien and later reunited on The Tonight Show. It’s impossible to imagine Conan without Richter thanks to his countless contributions to the show.

O’Brien went on to thank his friend and frequent guest Lisa Kudrow. The comedian met Kudrow during an improv class in the ’80s and cites her encouragement as a major reason he accepted the Late Night gig.

SNL creator Lorne Michaels also got a shoutout from O’Brien. It was Michaels who suggested O’Brien replace David Letterman despite the immediate backlash that came with tapping a complete unknown. But Michaels’ eye for talent is undeniable and thanks to him, the world was gifted Conan.

O’Brien wrapped things up by thanking his family and especially his wife, Liza O’Brien. Longtime fans are very familiar with how the two met. During one of the greatest Late Night remotes of all time, O’Brien met Liza and according to the comedian, you can see him fall in love with her on camera.

Nobody could sum up Conan O’Brien’s approach to comedy better than the man himself. In his final moments on Conan, he described his lifelong pursuit of the intersection between stupid and smart. It so perfectly describes the thousands of sketches, remote pieces, and bits fans have seen over the past 28 years. Thankfully, Conan O’Brien can’t stop and that pursuit will continue. Stay tuned for what’s next.

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