Last week, Conan O’Brien’s run with NBC’s “The Tonight Show” abruptly came to a halt after what many consider a wrong move by the network’s top executives. It was a sweet seven–month run, and I don’t think the show will ever be as fun again. Not with Leno doing it. But you’ve got to give it to Coco for saying the right thing as everything ends:
I hate cynicism. It’s my least favorite quality and 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.
Now what’s left for me to watch with Conan off the air until at least September 1? I firmly believe Conan’s coming back big with a show worthy of all this drama. He’s always been known for his weird brand of comedy, and I’ll be looking forward to it. And it will somehow feel like this commencement address he gave to the Harvard class of 2000:
I’ve dwelled on my failures today because, as graduates of Harvard, your biggest liability is your need to succeed. Your need to always find yourself on the sweet side of the bell curve. Because success is a lot like a bright, white tuxedo. You feel terrific when you get it, but then you’re desperately afraid of getting it dirty, of spoiling it in any way.
I left the cocoon of Harvard, I left the cocoon of Saturday Night Live, I left the cocoon of The Simpsons. And each time it was bruising and tumultuous. And yet, every failure was freeing, and today I’m as nostalgic for the bad as I am for the good.
So, that’s what I wish for all of you: the bad as well as the good. Fall down, make a mess, break something occasionally. And remember that the story is never over. If it’s all right, I’d like to read a little something from just this year: “Somehow, Conan O’Brien has transformed himself into the brightest star in the Late Night firmament. His comedy is the gold standard and Conan himself is not only the quickest and most inventive wit of his generation, but quite possible the greatest host ever.”
Ladies and Gentlemen, Class of 2000, I wrote that this morning, as proof that, when all else fails, there’s always delusion.
I’ll go now, to make bigger mistakes and to embarrass this fine institution even more. But let me leave you with one last thought: If you can laugh at yourself loud and hard every time you fall, people will think you’re drunk.
Surely, amazing things will happen.