I don’t know what could have been so important on a Friday night that you weren’t watching Conan last night, but the closing of his final show was a sight to behold. After appearances by Tom Hanks, Steve Carell, Neil Young and a heartfelt speech in which Conan O’Brien thanked NBC for the last 20 years, he joined a star-studded cast of buddies on stage for a fitting goodbye song: the one and only “Free Bird”.
The cast? How about Will Ferrell and his pregnant wife Viveca Paulin, dressed as Lynyrd Skynyrd-era hillbillies, a suit-clad Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top, Ben Harper and Beck? Will Ferrell took over Ronnie Van Zant duties, with Gibbons, Beck and O’Brien on guitar, Harper with a lap slide guitar, and the Tonight Show Band filling out the rest. They jammed for a good seven minutes in front of a wall-sized American flag. It was quite the sendoff; if only we could all go out jamming with celebrities.
Gibbons expectedly plays a mean solo here, and Conan does about as well as you could expect following with one of his own. Conan was close to tears earlier in the show, but here he is all smiles. For all the drama that’s gone down this month, this performance was a much-needed reminder that it’s just entertainment – just good, clean fun. A long-haired Will Ferrell furiously beating his cowbell as the credits rolled summed that sentiment up nicely.