*Beginning in 2010, I began a bi-weekly column, “From Richard’s Oft Cluttered Desk” which appears every other Wednesday.
I was set to be mad. I was itching to rip into NBC Universal. I am angry and disappointed. But then came Friday night. Then along came Conan O’Brian’s farewell.
For two weeks I debated with friends and colleagues about how disappointed I was in NBC and Jay Leno. I must disclaim to all my readers that I grew up a Jay Leno fan. Between Leno and David Letterman, I would choose Leno without even thinking about it. I never really watched Conan much because I was young and in bed by the time he’d come on. However, every time I did watch Conan, I enjoyed him.
I found his comedy loose and free and non-network. It wasn’t scripted and I found that liberating. Years ago when Leno, Conan and NBC worked out their transition, I wasn’t sure it was the right move. I was concerned that Conan’s comedy wouldn’t work at the earlier time-slot.
I sat and watched Jay’s last show as well as Conan’s. I watched Conan’s first show and found he was embracing his new challenge. His dream.
It’s never easy to take a legend, The Tonight Show, and make it your own. But Conan did.
For seven months, he worked his ass off. He stayed true to himself. He stayed true to what he had worked for over his 20 years at NBC. It was his Tonight Show.
The last two weeks were a nightmare for NBC. Leno throwing lobs at Conan. Conan throwing lobs at Leno.
I was ready. The column was written in my head and then came Friday night. I made a point to watch Conan’s last show. Hardly evident that he had only hosted the show for seven months, he went out in style. Tom Hanks, Neil Young and Will Ferrell.
“Every comedian dreams of hosting The Tonight Show and, for seven months, I got to. I did it my way, with people I love, and I do not regret a second. I’ve had more good fortune than anyone I know and if our next gig is doing a show in a 7-11 parking lot, we’ll find a way to make it fun.”
He had every chance to degrade NBC, but instead, in his most difficult hour, he was the honorable one. He remained proud. It’s that pride that came through. He had his dream show for seven months.
“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 wanted to be mad at NBC – and I am. But I’m mostly sad that Conan is gone. He’s the better man and I can’t wait to see where he goes from here. Be kind. Be generous. Conan is proof: amazing things do happen. My hat is off t o you Conan.