It’s been approximately 7,000 years since Paul Rudd began appearing on Conan O’Brien’s numerous talk shows to present a clip from the E.T.-knock-off-turned-cult-classic Mac & Me. It’s become such a running joy on the show that Rudd couldn’t resist sending Conan, whose TBS show ends this week, into that final good night without one more trip down the mountain and off the cliff.
Cutting into an interview with Bill Hader, Rudd surprised O’Brien, Hader, and Andy Richter to make fun of a sketch Hader wrote for SNL that Rudd refused to do. But, of course, by the time Rudd reveals that he has a clip of the sketch, well, everyone knows where this is going.
Rudd’s visits and impromptu plugs for the horrific McDonald’s promotion gone awry have made the actor one of Conan’s most popular guests. Conan estimates that it’s been a quarter-century of the actor coming on the show and not bringing a clip from one of his movies because it’s funnier this way.
“Every time, for years, I was convinced that I would see the real clip,” says Conan, “because you are a genuinely a nice person. And you would say, ‘this movie is really important to me’ and ‘I put my own money into this, and I really care about this,’ and then you’d pull that shit every time.”
Twenty-five years of a bit is quite a run. But, as Rudd finally tells, Mac & Me wasn’t his first choice. There was another. Apparently, for a short time, he considered showing a clip from Baby Geniuses. It’s a beautiful moment seeing what could’ve been because, of course, he brings the Baby Geniuses clip, and yes, it is incredible.
“Whoever dies first,” Andy Richter says off-screen, “you have to do that at the other one’s funeral.” This sounds like a fair stipulation, except what clip is Rudd going to lie about bringing when he gets up there to eulogize Conan? Sorry for assuming that Rudd will outlive him, but look at the man; he’s going to outlive us all.
Rudd’s final bit is Bette Middler singing “One More For My Baby” to Johnny Carson for the Pepsi Generation, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.