Conan is ending on June 24, leaving just seven more episodes of Conan O’Brien’s third and final late-night show for the comedy icon to pack in as many of his favorite guests as possible. Last night, it was longtime guest and pal Patton Oswalt, who, among other things, pined for the halcyon days of the Walker, Texas Ranger lever. (We were all so young and innocent and free from copyright lawsuits then.) On Tuesday, it was veteran O’Brien visitor and friend Martin Short joining Conan and Andy Richter live and in person at the show’s pandemic home of Largo, complete with a studio audience. And since no one on this Earth is more energized by the sight of a crowd and a plugged-in microphone than Martin Short, the legendary showman (producing a hand mic from under his seat) buttered up the HBO-bound O’Brien before launching into a big, original musical tribute to Conan’s 28-year late-night career.
With the unctuous show biz glamor of tearful talk show finales past, 26-time Conan O’Brien interviewee Short crooned his just-penned paean to Conan’s late-night departure, first noting that O’Brien is “one of the great, brilliant men of our era,” and that his career has caused him to be “adored and worshipped” by comedians and fans alike. Then, after appearing to choke up just a little, Short, with a live piano tinkling melancholically from the wings, sang, “There’s only you. No one else can ever do just what you do. If we could only have an hour more or...,” hey, wait just a goddamned minute, Short, that sounds awfully familiar. Conan heard it, too, breaking in apologetically to note that that’s exactly the song Short sang on David Letterman’s last show.
Playing a clip from that particular late-night milestone, O’Brien expressed his disappointment, a feeling that only grew as he signaled his staff to put up clips of Short whipping out the very same musical crocodile tears at the finales of everything from The Magic Hour (“He really had an incredible eleven weeks,” explained Short of legendarily terrible late-night competitor Magic Johnson), The Jerry Springer Show, and even a commercial extolling the virtues of a specific seasonal fast food item. As Conan scolded Short for self-plagiarizing a big, heartfelt number he’d previously sung to “many people—and a milkshake,” Short plowed ahead with a trouper’s mawkish idolatry, assuring this one-of-a-kind semi-retiring celebrity interviewer that Conan, and only Conan, is the “one name in this biz.” Pointing to the sky at the crescendo of his lament and crying out, “Thank you, Conan!,” Short had to be reminded to crank it back a little since, as Conan noted, “I’m still alive.”
As an apology(?) for all the shtick-y shenanigans, Short also brought along a clip of himself in truly disturbing (if grotesquely accurate) Conan O’Brien prosthetics. Noting that the sketch from Short’s Primetime Glick, in which Short as Conan and fellow SCTV star Andrea Martin play out some sort of psycho-sexual prison drama, saw him spending almost as much makeup chair time as it did to get into his Jiminy Glick fat suit and glasses, Short admitted to a little fuzziness as to how the whole premise came to be. And he’s not alone, as Conan himself expressed no memory whatsoever of ever having seen the thing before (perhaps evincing some sort of defensively selective amnesia), while Martin texted Short to ask just what the hell she was doing in a jail cell making out with a horrifyingly ginger-hirsute Conan O’Brien. Well, they’ve all seen it now. And so have we.