With Thursday’s Conan finale shutting down Conan O’Brien’s 28-year run as late-night host, O’Brien’s been inviting all his favorite guests back to reminisce, goof around, and put a glorious capper on the occasional long-running bit. It was Seth Rogen’s turn in the (in-person) Largo chair on Tuesday, and the actor and smokeables entrepreneur confronted Conan’s professed and well-known fear of even temporary comedy idleness with some thoroughly predictable advice. Said Rogen, in all sincerity, “I would suggest—this is going to be hilariously on brand—try smoking a lot of weed for a long time.”
Well, when in Rome. Or, rather, when in a state where marijuana is legal, and you’re leaving your longtime job, and what are they gonna do, fire you? (Honestly, in California, you’re probably more likely to get in trouble for lighting up anything indoors.) With O’Brien, as ever, playing up his supposed squareness by asking innocently if Seth Rogen, of all people, knew of a particular strain of cannabis that might overcome the host’s professed indifference and/or paranoia concerning Rogen’s favorite pastime, Rogen shrugged and went into his shirt pocket. Producing an expertly rolled and at-the-ready joint, Rogen handed over his no-doubt meticulously curated weed of choice, advising the neophyte O’Brien that one hit (and likely one hit only) would do the trick in smoothing out the coming post-Conan fallow period (before the host’s weekly HBO Max show premieres late this year) when there’ll be no just-returned crowds to perform for.
Now, there may be some doubt as to just how committed O’Brien was to the bit here, but let’s go to the tape. Unlike the elaborately set up return of Paul Rudd and a certain inevitable movie clip, this didn’t seem like what, in wrestling terms, would be called a “work.” Rogen having weed on his person at any time is hardly a rarity, and the actor did seem happily surprised when Conan asked if he had a lighter as well. (He did.) And, after some performative nerdiness about lighting the wrong end, there’s no doubt that the 58-year-old O’Brien did light up and pull some of Rogen’s chosen smoke into—well, his mouth at least. Did he—as 90s stand-up comics asked ad nauseam—inhale? The jury’s still out there, although, once he’d passed the lit joint back to Rogen, the subsequent friendly pass to Andy Richter saw Richter not only take a deep lungful, but also ash carefully into his cupped palm, which is a pro move. (Here we’re assuming that all this COVID-alarming spit-swapping was offset by the trio’s vaccination status.) Plus, simply being in the proximity of some of Seth Rogen’s pot smoke for any extended period of time is likely to produce a contact high, so we’ll allow it. (Just ask Stephen Colbert.)
Rogen and the live (but still-masked and socially weed-distant) Largo crowd cheered, with Rogen proclaiming joyously about the culmination of his years-long campaign to get O’Brien to loosen up, “I’m so happy with what just happened.” (Andy, deadpanning that he’d forgotten about his post-Conan job interview at Target, lamented, “I’m fucked.”) For Rogen, long a champion of the medicinal and recreational properties of what O’Brien un-hiply termed “a fine herb,” getting an aging TV legend to at least suck some smoke tentatively inside his body onstage (and on basic cable) was, indeed, a happy coup. (If for no other reason than it will help to further point out the ridiculous, racially biased nonsense that there are untold thousands of people imprisoned for doing just what a rich, white talk show host did as a goof in front of a national audience.) And if we didn’t get to see Conan doing a silly dance that looks like he’s pulling his hips from side to side with strings thanks to Doctor Rogen’s ministrations, we can rest assured that that’s something Conan O’Brien will always do, regardless.