I’ve been a fan of Conan O’Brien since his days on Late Night back in New York. When I heard that he’ll be taking the Tonight Show position, I had nothing but the best intentions for the show. Late Night and the Tonight Show always felt like a team effort. Each skit, joke, or mix-up was all a brainchild from the whole crew and never from just O’Brien. When the news about the Tonight Show time shift came and the burden thrown onto O’Brien’s lap, it was like telling his family that he had to get a divorce. Though emotions could flare up in this situation, I felt O’Brien really tried to understand and consider every option with maturity, even as a comedian. O’Brien felt he had to do what’s right and stand by the integrity of the show, by walking away. Like a captain going down with his ship, it was a moment of glory, not remorse. As other late night hosts lashed out at each other about NBC’s managerial follies, O’Brien seemed to understand his situation and set out to do what he did best, have fun on television. Though many fingers can be pointed at different causes like Jay Leno, NBC, or ratings, O’Brien did his job while he had it. To O’Brien, hosting the Tonight Show was his dream job and now that he had it, hosting it to the end was his sole duty, no matter what the circumstances. And host he did. The last week of the Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien was the best week of late night programming I have ever seen. From having prestigious guests such as Martin Scorsese, Tom Hanks, and the program’s first and last guest, Will Ferrell, to the signature absurd sketches and jokes like buying a Bugatti Veyron (a $1.7 million car), dressing it up as a mouse while listening to the original studio recording of “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” by the Rolling Stone (which costs a hefty amount in licensing fees), and having NBC pay the bill, O’Brien had ridiculous fun on television. Fans of O’Brien even had rallies in front of NBC buildings across the nation, showing their support for O’Brien and his ventures. The rallies, though aimed to stand for O’Brien, were self-aware of the absurdity in the actual influence it carried toward NBC’s decision. The rallies were more, as comedian Michael Ian Black put it, a “silly street theater for the sake of silliness,” providing a fitting send off to one of the silliest comedians. As sad as the situation might have seemed, I felt it was like any transition in life; rough in spots, but opportunity lies ahead. There are many ways to look at the situation in a bad light, but keeping hopeful is the best choice. O’Brien reflects and reassures hope with his final Tonight Show statement: “Please do not be cynical. I hate cynicism. For the record, it’s my least favorite quality, it doesn’t lead anywhere. Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get. But if you work really hard and you’re kind, amazing things will happen. I’m telling you, amazing things will happen.” We’re with you, Coco.
Originally published on Feb. 11, 2010 @ StudentVoiceOnline.com