On Friday, Feb. 20, NBC’s Late Night With Conan O’Brien ends its 15-year run with musical guests the White Stripes and not a final appearance by The Only TV Column That Matters™. Yes, even though Conan and I have quite a history together, I was relegated to a week-before-who-cares? chair slot last Friday—and I’ve yet to be invited to come on The Tonight Show, which Big Red takes over from Jay Leno in June. Conan O’Brien: Sell-out.
In (dis)honor of Conan’s historic move, I’ve compiled a few of my favorite appearances on Late Night, which will cease to exist approximately two-to-three months after Jimmy Fallon (who’s been a guest only half as many times as myself) takes over and will probably be replaced with The Best of Carson Daly.
Sept. 13, 1993: Conan’s debut! Guests included John Goodman (promoting The Flintstones), Drew Barrymore (promoting her Amy Fisher movie) and me (promoting my first book, Why This Fantastic Grunge Music Will Live Forever). Later, I learned that tomorrow night’s musical guests would be some band called Radiohead, who later faded into obscurity due to their lack of minor chords and flannel.
Dec. 30, 1994: I shared the couch with actress Yasmine Bleeth (Baywatch), who got none of my jokes about “floatation devices.” She was later accosted by the Masturbating Bear.
Sept. 18, 1997: After a few years off, I was back on Late Night, alongside Lucy Lawless (then Xena: Warrior Princess), and David Cross and Bob Odenkirk (then starring in HBO’s Mr. Show). During our interview, Conan asked what I’d been up to; I answered, “Just watching Xena and Mr. Show in my underwear, along with a few hundred other jobless lesbians and miscreants.” Both were canceled soon after my appearance. Purely coincidental.
April 13, 2001: After a few years off (think of all the “In the Year 2000” bits I didn’t get to participate in!), I was back on Late Night, with other guests Tom Green and Vertical Horizon. I have no idea who they were, either.
Sept. 26, 2002: Finally, I was on with a worthy co-guest: Tina Fey! We exchanged pleasantries backstage, and I suggested she produce a sitcom based on her daily work life at Saturday Night Live. I also told musical guests Coldplay that they should give up being a Vertical Horizon tribute band and become limp-wristed U2 impersonators. At least one of ’em took my advice!
April 23, 2003: As the White Stripes began their week-long stint as Conan’s house band, I asked Jack White if he stole the rock-duo idea from Local H. I woke up an hour later with a black eye, being teabagged by the Masturbating Bear.
Feb. 25, 2005: After another year’s suspension, Conan invited me back on my birthday! I shared the couch with John Travolta (who offered to make me a Scientologist) and Shannon Elizabeth (who offered to put me in her next movie—a fate worse than Scientology!). Backstage, Yasmine Bleeth and I shivved the Masturbating Bear, with Conan’s unspoken approval and the promise to lay low for four years.
Feb. 13, 2009: Last Friday, the ultimate betrayal: My final appearance on Late Night! Alongside Isla Fisher, pimping her lousy Shopaholic movie! Damn gingers. Obviously, my long bro-ship with Conan is over; I’ll have to push my forthcoming book, Why Fantastic Newspapers Will Live Forever, on The Late Show With Craig Ferguson.