5 Conan O’Brien Skits We’ll Miss the Most

Written by Daniel Murphy Mathew Imaging/WireImage.com

We send off our favorite red-headed step-child of comedy into The Big Chair with videos you probably won’t be seeing on The Tonight Show. Horny manatees, anyone?

Conan O'Brien Hosts Emmy Awards

Yeah, right. Like you could pick just five. Summing up sixteen years and 2,700-plus hours of nutty late-night television in five measly clips is like summing up a rodeo by saying it smells bad.

But Conan – and it’s just Conan, like Johnny before him – deserves a tribute after closing up shop on Late Night last week on his way to Johnny’s chair. And strict editorial guidelines, cobbled together over hours and hours of hard work and drinking, dictate that this column contain five videos – sheer wealth of brilliant material be damned.

So best to keep it simple. And like that “quirky” girl you dated for five seconds in sixth grade before everyone started heckling you, the ones you end up missing the most are the ones you’ll likely never come across again. And unfortunately, in the parlance of the FCC, a masturbating bear at 12:35 in the morning is much different than a masturbating bear at 11:35 in the evening. (You can just hear the ad execs now: “They want to know if we’d prefer our spot scheduled before or after the pooping dog puppet sketch.”)

The Late Night skits we’ll remember most fondly, then, are the ones we likely won’t end up seeing on The Tonight Show when Conan pops up in L.A. this June – gems of comic genius that an awkward SNL writer cum TV game-changer cum cultural icon has left behind in his soon-to-be-demolished set, and in our hearts.

Quackers, the Shit-Eating Duck

So a duck craps on your stage. In front of everyone. You, being a normal, non-farm-owning person, react accordingly with righteous indignation and a well-timed S-bomb. Most talk-show hosts would be happy to just forget that night ever happened. It takes true balls to go back to the network execs and say, “Let’s take it one step further.”

Camp Michael McDonald

The joke herein is so offbeat you’re not even quite sure why you’re laughing. It’s borderline British, for chrissakes. But now that you’ve finished watching the clip for the twelfth time, all the while thinking, “I am the only person in America who finds this funny,” people across America pulling will be rolling on the floor saying the exact same thing.

In The Year 2000

Inane millennial predictions filmed in the style of a Swedish music video? With David Duchovny? Emceed by Andy Richter? There’s genuinely nothing not to love. Better still, the running bit (often starring unannounced A-listers who wouldn’t dare be this alien in L.A.) continued well after the millennium came and went.


Like Quackers (and several of Conan’s other odes to the mascot), this was a brilliant bit of “The joke’s on you, Suits!” – one that went viral on the Web and made the Suits very happy, no less. You have to imagine more than a few eyebrows were raised when official tax documents reflected an NBC business expense of $159 for HornyManatee.com. The fact that the site is still up and running, and featuring pictures and videos of guys dressed up as horny manatees in order to generate donations for actual manatees, gives us hope for a return.

Conan O’Brien & Mr. T Celebrate Fall Foliage Day

Just try to imagine any other talk-show host actually going out and doing this. (Tyra Banks excluded, because she’s obviously bonkers.) Even Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, the Kings of Uncomfortable Comedy, send out their minions for the awkward-moment-filled field work. But there’s Conan, cheering on Mr. T as he wills an apple to fall off a tree with nothing but old-fashioned smack talk. That’s a man who loves his work.