The list of insane things Conan O’Brien has done on television is long and difficult to believe.
That’s likely to happen, however, when you’ve been making your living for the past 28 years as a host of late-night television. Beloved for his absurdist sense of humor, immaculate hair, and a willingness to do what it takes for the laugh, O’Brien has now anchored a desk at three networks and spent countless hours staring at the side of Andy Richter’s face.
It’s been a wild ride, and to cap it off, O’Brien sent his TBS series out in style with a run of shows filmed live before an audience at the intimate Los Angeles venue Largo. Featuring the welcomed return of real laughs after a year of pandemic-forced remote shows, the stint also saw a number of O’Brien’s most beloved guests/pals return for one last goof.
For those mourning the host’s departure from his latest gig, don’t fret too much. There’s already another project for O’Brien on the horizon in the form of a new partnership with HBO Max. But as fans await details on exactly what form that series will take, many also took Conan’s departure from TBS after 11 seasons as a moment to idolize the comedy legend for what may be his last stint behind a desk.
During O’Brien’s final week of shows, famous friends like Jack Black, Paul Rudd, and Dana Carvey all stopped by to rekindle beloved bits or simply wax poetic about their fondest Conan memories. Amidst these festivities, however, a cannabis controversy is brewing.
Basically, on one of the final episodes of TBS’s Conan, guest Seth Rogen lit a joint and passed it to O’Brien, who then appeared to take a hit. During a conversation in which O’Brien asked Rogen for advice on how to spend his upcoming free time, the “American Pickle” star and Houseplant co-founder suggested the host “try smoking a lot of weed for a long time.”
That the conversation would turn to cannabis with Rogen as a guest is not shocking in the least. After all, Rogen now has his own cannabis brand, Houseplant, in addition to his a lifelong, well-documented love for getting high. Seated alongside O’Brien and Richter on the Largo stage, Rogen offered his assertion that Conan did not seem like the type of person who smoked a great deal of weed.
“I don’t smoke any weed, and that’s not a judgement,” O’Brien replied. “It’s not that I have any problem with people smoking pot — I think it actually seems to be a fine herb. But the couple of times I’ve tried it, nothing really happened… But I know that you own a weed company so you might be able to tell me, maybe I was smoking the wrong stuff. I don’t know. What would you want me smoking?”
This query prompted Rogen to whip out a joint from his shirt pocket and suggest to the host that were Conan to take a hit it, it would make for “a great, weird show.”
O’Brien responded by asking if Rogen, “as a professor of weed,” was giving this joint his official blessing. Rogen affirmed.
“I think you should take one hit of that weed, and I think you’ll have a really good time.”
Next, in what Marijuana Moment’s Kyle Jager aptly termed “a moment of late-night TV history,” a joint was lit, puffed and passed on the TBS program.
A charming moment and a win for lovers of weed the world over, right?
Possibly, but some folks, like the AV Club’s Dennis Perkins, have some inhalation-related queries about the stunt.
“There may be some doubt as to just how committed O’Brien was to the bit here,” Perkins acknowledged, “but let’s go to the tape.”
Following careful analysis of the clip in question, Perkins arrives at the following conclusions:
“[After] some performative nerdiness about lighting the wrong end, there’s no doubt that the 58-year-old O’Brien did light up and pull some of Rogen’s chosen smoke into — well, his mouth at least. Did he — as 90s stand-up comics asked ad nauseam — inhale? The jury’s still out there, although, once he’d passed the lit joint back to Rogen, the subsequent friendly pass to Andy Richter saw Richter not only take a deep lungful, but also ash carefully into his cupped palm, which is a pro move.”
It’s tough to say if O’Brien took a courtesy puff or really enjoyed the kind gift of bud offered by Rogen. What is certain is that Andy Richter got absolutely lit, that cannabis was most definitely consumed on a highly-anticipated episode of a live television series, and that if Conan wasn’t up for a full ride while on-the-air, he can probably asked Rogen for a raincheck whenever he wants.
You’ll be missed Conan! (Until you’re back this September, that is.)