Long may you run.

Saturday, January 23rd, 2010

Hey, I’ve been around for a while. I’ve seen Johnny Carson’s last show. Heck, I’ve seen Dick Cavett’s last show. I saw one or two of Tom Snyder’s last shows. (And I’m talking when they aired, when they were broadcast to an still fairly monolithic american tv viewing public.)

Conan O’Brien’s last Tonight Show, last night was a classy
and entirely on-key farewell.

The guy is creative, talented, smart, works hard, and seems to inspire loyalty in his colleagues and guests. You can’t ask for much more than that.

It was, in some ways, all the more compelling coming on after the, uh, George Clooney show—a prime-time two hour fundraiser for the earthquake victims in Haiti, which, aside from the considerable good charitable work, was a modern masterpiece of live television. The music, interlaced with simple, straight-to-the-camera pleas for help (delivered by a-list movie talent), seemed to be exactly what tone you’d hope would be struck after a bad couple of weeks in the world. ‘Hope for Haiti Now’ reminded me how elegant well-produced LIVE musical numbers can be when done with restraint (hey, no audience!) and style, in glorious high definition.

Me, I hope television continues to function as a common electronic hearth, every once in a while, for us all to gather in realtime and, uh, tweet about it. Last night was a good night to do both. And hey, no Jay Leno show at ten…they ran Dateline!

One chunk of Conan’s closing comments is getting a lot of note in the hours after, and deservedly so. After the comedy stylings of Steve Carrell and Tom Hanks, and after the chords of Neil Young’s “Long May You Run” (I know, eh?) and before the comedy chord stylings of Will Farrell and company performing “Free Bird”, the Host Of The Tonight Show said this:

“All I ask of you, especially young people…is one thing. Please don’t be cynical, I hate cynicism — it’s my least favorite quality and it doesn’t lead anywhere. Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get. But if you work really hard and you’re kind, amazing things will happen. I’m telling you, amazing things will happen.”

I can’t disagree.