January 21st, 2010
10:31 PM ET

Transcript: Conan O'Brien's January 21 monologue

Below is a transcript of "The Tonight Show" opening monologue from January 21st:

I’m Conan O’Brien, future Donkey Kong champion.

Many of you have probably heard the news. NBC and I have finally reached a separation agreement. I knew it was official this morning when NBC dropped off all my CDs and picked up its lava lamp.

As you all know by now, tomorrow is our last show here. I’d like to apologize to the guests that were scheduled for next week: President Barack Obama, the Pope, the Queen of England, and our good friend, Elvis Presley.

You know, I’ve been with NBC for a really long time. Remember the Cosby show? I was Rudy!

I thought about something today – over the years I’ve made a lot of fun of Ryan Seacrest, Larry King, Spencer Pratt, Geraldo, David Hasselhoff, Kirstie Alley and Donald Trump. And here’s the messed up thing, they all still have shows.

All kidding aside it was announced today that last night NBC and I reached an agreement and tomorrow night will be the very last “Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien.” Obviously this was not our first choice, but I’m determined to make the best of this situation. So here’s the plan. Tonight and tomorrow night we’re going to have a lot of fun on television. We have amazing guests stopping by. We have some really fun surprises planned. So tune in and let’s enjoy this...

NBC and I hammered out an agreement for wrapping up my time here as host of the Tonight Show. The general terms of the contract are all over the Internet. But there are some provisions in the contract you may not know about:

-I am prohibited from coming within 500 yards of 11:30.

-I must return the Etch-A-Sketch my contract was written on.

-I’m not allowed to make fun of NBC programming. I have to let the programming speak for itself.

-The cop who escorts me off the lot after my last show must have the rank of lieutenant or higher.

-Max Weinberg must surrender his key to the women’s locker room at the NBC gym.

-Have to watch at least one NBC show every weeknight in order to double ratings.

-Effective today, NBC will stop paying for Andy Richter’s medical marijuana, and medical Jack Daniels.

-Must stop production on my documentary expose of NBC: "Inside the 'Cock."

Filed under: Late Night comedy

soundoff (56 Responses)
  1. Thomas R. Clauss (In Diapers at 90)

    He is Real Big Time Entertainer.

    September 18, 2010 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
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    July 8, 2010 at 1:33 am | Report abuse |
  3. Ken

    I was extremely impressed with Conan's closing statements, thanking the network and his staff for 20 years of service. He was open and honest in his leaving the show and showed his true feelings. I look forward to seeing Conan in future productions which I am sure he will attain.

    January 23, 2010 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Jenna

    I don't see how this self pity, narcissitic monologue is funny! I am so glad he is leaving. His humor was never funny to me.

    January 22, 2010 at 8:35 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Trudy Johnson

    I can empathize with Conan, however, I do not understand his need to get disgusting about it. Some of his humor lately has been downright crass and puts him at the same level as those he now despises at the network. Can't he just suck it up, take his 45 million and move on? There are undoubtedly some charities who now may think twice about having Conan as their spokesperson, due to his lack of judgment while addressing this issue.

    January 22, 2010 at 6:19 pm | Report abuse |
  6. NikkiD

    I'm a Letterman person and only switched to the Tonight Show because of Conan. I never watched that stupid moronic so-called humor from Leno. I'm back to Letterman. NBC has lost a great talent! Good Luck Coco and hope to see you back soon. I will NEVER watch the Tonight Show again even if Jay's line-up includes Elvis....

    January 22, 2010 at 5:42 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Diane

    Thank You, Conan!

    January 22, 2010 at 5:41 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Nick Marino

    if anything else, NBC's bad business has caused people to care more about late night TV than they have in a long, long time.

    January 22, 2010 at 5:27 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Diane

    Maybe the FOX network will go for the gold!

    January 22, 2010 at 5:24 pm | Report abuse |
  10. jamie

    sad thing to lose such a great hour of tremendous humor..we need conans whit just to get through our miserable economy! It was the best escape ! Thank you for the times that you did give us Conan! Your repeats are even better than any talk shows brand new show!!

    please try and get another show...the world needs you!

    January 22, 2010 at 5:07 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Anup B

    Move on self pitying Conan, if you are as good as you keep saying you are, you should donate the $33M to the needy!!!

    January 22, 2010 at 4:45 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Up All Night

    Although I prefer Leno, and I think Conan is being a CHILD over this, I must say that NBC has really made a mess of things! I watch them both, did in the last time slot too. I find it rediculous that they didnt give more time to reveiw the raitings before pulling the shows. No matter what happens, I believe NBC will have less viewers to show for it.

    January 22, 2010 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
  13. juahree

    Get over yourself. In the last 2 yrs many Americans lost their jobs in merger and downsizing, me included. Believe me, we didn't get a severance package of 33 million.
    Your self pity is disgraceful.

    January 22, 2010 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Alma

    Even my 7 yr old daughter thinks Conan is funnier than Leno. Friday is the only night she gets to watch and she will enjoy this final show as much as she enjoyed his first show on the Tonight Show.
    I gurantee she would have been a loyal viewer and we will both follow where he goes.

    January 22, 2010 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Steffan Piper

    NBC blew over $100 Million dollars bringing in Conan to that time slot and then stabbing him in the back and being forced to pony up severance.

    If anyone should be fired or let go it should be the person responsible for bleeding the network for a cool hundred mil.

    $50 Million for the new studio and set.
    $20 Million plus for all the advance and standard advertising for Conan.
    $45 Million for the exit.

    Haha ... looks like Conan came out on top and NBC got what they deserved. I guess they forgot that the same people who were watching Friends and Seinfeld were 'also' watching Conan O'Brien - and NOT Leno.

    January 22, 2010 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
  16. tricia

    NBC: Nothing But Corksuckers is always messing up a wet dream. That's why the tonight show and SNL are the only shows that carry them.

    January 22, 2010 at 1:38 pm | Report abuse |
  17. 1209

    Chud – glad to correct you. You are wrong. Leno was #1 in his spot when he was FORCED into retirement, due to an idiotic deal NBC made 5 years ago. Leno made it very clear he wasn't ready to retire, but the idiots at NBC felt they had to hold on to Conan – guess that'll teach them. Conan isn't funny and his guest interviews are ridiculous. His ratings tell the tale. Good for NBC for booting him!!!!

    January 22, 2010 at 1:05 pm | Report abuse |
  18. petersmith21

    I have to admit this last week Conan was actually funny. Last 6 months Conan was okay but Jay is still more funnier and i can't stand when Conan does a 5 minute skit to get a simple laugh. In the very end, the people spoke and since Conan had horrible ratings, he got canned.

    January 22, 2010 at 10:53 am | Report abuse |
  19. Chad

    Still not funny.

    January 22, 2010 at 10:10 am | Report abuse |
  20. Chud

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but weren't Letterman's ratings beating Leno's in the last few years when he was hosting the tonight show?.....hence his "retirement." I hope NBC suffers greatly from all of this. Jay really has nothing going for him in my opinion. He is a has-been Hopefully someone will pick Conan up and treat him good. He is a goldmine!

    January 22, 2010 at 8:32 am | Report abuse |
  21. Debra R

    Bwahahahahaha...brilliant...don't worry Conan...will follow you to whatever SMARTER network snags you.....

    January 22, 2010 at 8:23 am | Report abuse |
  22. Ellen

    Last night was vintage Conan. Too bad he wasn't doing this caliber of stuff for the past 7 months-he would've trounced Leno. We'll miss you Conan–WON'T be watching Leno. He just ISN'T funny people-and he's a lousy interviewer of guests to boot.

    January 22, 2010 at 7:46 am | Report abuse |
  23. donzbop

    I will never watch (except Football) any show on NBC again.

    January 22, 2010 at 7:29 am | Report abuse |
  24. Kimmi

    Conan plays the boohoo act but he is getting a severance of
    32 million dollars, and now a free agent, which we know there is talk of him going to fox or another network, so now worries fan of his he will be on the air and richer than before.

    As for Leno he will be getting a ton of money too, have to see if comes close to dave letterman's pay, he gets paid crazy amount of money. As much as I enjoy late night tv, not sure why people get crazy about boycotting shows trust me they are just fine.

    January 22, 2010 at 7:16 am | Report abuse |
  25. CoCo Fan

    Conan, though I'm glad you're being the bigger man and moving on, you should have let Jay have his 30 minute show. He would have failed miserably (his monologue is nearly 30 minutes long). That would have been the end of Jay. But I think eventually, Jimmy Fallon will take over for Jay, maybe in 3 months. Don't look back. F NBC!!!

    January 22, 2010 at 6:59 am | Report abuse |
  26. matwocents

    Zucker makes Bush look like a genius.

    January 22, 2010 at 6:06 am | Report abuse |
  27. dana

    I'm sorry that Conan didn't work out but I think NBC should have left him at his own show after Leno/Tonight show. NBC Screwed up, and the thing is, Conan wasn't the same at 11:30, the ratings weren't there. I hate that everyone is against Leno, its all NBC. Lets see who they can mess up now!

    January 22, 2010 at 6:03 am | Report abuse |
  28. Tony

    Jay leno rocks, conan is not funny, his jokes are lame and hardly ever funny. Leno rocks

    January 22, 2010 at 5:07 am | Report abuse |
  29. Corey Burkes

    Even at that level, stupidity reigns supreme. Conan, take the money ... you should have went for $100 million, but who knows what 'really' went down behind the scenes ... and do another show. You are fantastic, a legendary writer (i.e., Simpsons) and where ever you go, fans will follow. I'm sorry NBC gave you the shaft .... take a year off and come back brand new.

    January 22, 2010 at 4:11 am | Report abuse |
  30. Reality_Bites777

    On his way out, Conan is doing segments that NBC will have to pay for. Instead of wasting money on silly "Crazy Expensive" props, why not just donate it to the to relief efforts in Haiti. Better yet, why doesn't CoCo bid a million dollars on Stephan Colbert's charity auction. Mr. Colbert says that AT&T will match the bid and all proceeds go the the American Red Cross for Haiti Relief and Development.

    January 22, 2010 at 4:02 am | Report abuse |
  31. DCT

    Conan was the best since Carson. The Tonight show is dead.

    January 22, 2010 at 3:46 am | Report abuse |
  32. kp

    They kept who got the ratings. Just good business. If Conan owned a business he'd make the same decision! Act like a man. Quit whinning!
    I think you came out OK!

    January 22, 2010 at 3:32 am | Report abuse |
  33. Jackson

    Well, Thomas, I can't really say he got the shaft. He did get more than $30 million as well. I'd happily take a shaft like that every day of my life.

    January 22, 2010 at 3:28 am | Report abuse |
  34. Harley Davidson

    Yep, NBC just did a good enough job of making fun of themselves.
    Slander. Conan o' Brien, You rock my socks... and michael jackson will haunt your sorry ass forever.

    January 22, 2010 at 3:11 am | Report abuse |
  35. Amanda

    I'm so disusted by NBC right now! I cannot believe that they let Conan go! He is a great comedian and was a wonderful host. I am a longtime fan of his. Leno is not funny what so ever. Why couldn't they have let him or Jimmy go. Jimmy is way worse! After Conan's final episode airs tomorrow I will no longer be watching NBC. I will be deleting their channel as well as any of their affiliates completly from my tv list. This way none of my family will be able to see their crap! We will be on STRIKE! Conan is the best and will always be the best. I can't wait for him to be picked up by another station.

    January 22, 2010 at 3:10 am | Report abuse |
  36. Harold Bartholemew

    Trading a long-term investment for short-term ratings... After canceling quality programming for a cheap, tacky variety show. This is typical of everything wrong in America today. You deserve everything you get NBC; especially Jay Leno.

    January 22, 2010 at 3:03 am | Report abuse |
  37. pete

    Conan wasn't funny when he started, he isn't funny now. The Tongiht Show ratings tanked the minute he took over. Only in show business do you get bought off for $45 MILLION because you failed.. My wife and I predicted this the minute we heard they had tapped Conan for The Tonight Show back when. I'm surprised he lasted this long. If you want sophomoric humor, I guess you'll have to go back to SNL.

    January 22, 2010 at 3:00 am | Report abuse |
  38. Joey

    Further proof NBC is the worst network on television, run by the biggest idiots in the business...

    That they would allow someone as talented and unique as Conan slip away in favor of someone like Leno, who's never had an original or funny bit in his life (that wasn't stolen), defies all logic. And, they canceled shows like "Southland" for no reason whatsoever. "Chuck" and "30 Rock" are probably next. What a joke. They deserve to have the lowest ratings. They deserve to be taken over by a cable provider!

    I hope Conan is back on the air very soon at a real network who will appreciate and value him.

    January 22, 2010 at 2:11 am | Report abuse |
  39. vette gal

    Nothing funny here, all he's doing is being a whiner. This was his choice. He could have moved to a different time slot which is what the networks do all the time when a show's ratings are low. But, oh no, his ego just wouldn't let him do it....and if he got the shaft, I'd love someone to shaft me with 33 milllion dollars.

    January 22, 2010 at 2:03 am | Report abuse |
  40. RedDog

    Conan, you are a class act. You brought the 'Tonight Show' back to the same level of comedy that Johnny spent years cultivating – and Leno spent years decimating. Johnny would have been proud of you in his char, and we will miss you. Leno will never again disgrace our TV set in our home, we're thru with him. Take care, rest up, and we'll see you somewhere in September!

    January 22, 2010 at 1:59 am | Report abuse |
  41. boycott leno

    i for one wouldn't watch leno after this if he were to stuck his head in the mouth of a live lion for ratings. I think leno will be the next to go. And he should go!

    January 22, 2010 at 1:42 am | Report abuse |
  42. isabel

    Jay is not the bad guy here, but Conan has overstepped his "boundries" making Jay his main scapegoat. Truth is, Jay Leno has been courteous from day one and deserves to stay the host of the Tonight Show. Jay has followers who actually watch his show, unlike Conan who now has everyone coming out of the woodwork to say they prefer Conan, but just didn't take the time to watch his show. The "coco" defenders seemed to be a dollar short and a day late. Go Jay!!!

    January 22, 2010 at 1:41 am | Report abuse |
  43. Marg Evans

    God bless Conan, don't worry everything will turn out wonderful. You are too creative to be quiet for too long.

    Have a good time and then come back to us.



    January 22, 2010 at 1:32 am | Report abuse |
  44. HL


    January 22, 2010 at 1:24 am | Report abuse |
  45. steve

    Where ever Conan goes I will watch him. I never watched Leno and definitely will not start doing so now.

    January 22, 2010 at 1:15 am | Report abuse |
  46. Saly

    Conan – I hope you land someplace where you can exercise your comic genius freely, for the enjoyment of the rest of us with a sense of humor.

    January 22, 2010 at 12:55 am | Report abuse |
  47. James

    Too little, too late, Conan. Should have left the high school shenanigans back at 12:30 and upped your class a bit when you were given a show that once had $5mil viewers whom followed Jay to 10pm.

    January 22, 2010 at 12:54 am | Report abuse |
  48. MarchHare

    NBC's Loss.

    Leno will never recover from this...and the fact that he just isn't funny anymore....Conan was this show's future.

    All I can say is that NBC must be getting its advice from Wall Street.

    January 22, 2010 at 12:52 am | Report abuse |
  49. bgg

    Love the garbage Leno's trying to sell. He's been pulling this crap since he hid in a closet to get the show from Letterman.
    If Lenos show was hurting 11:00 pm news then it was also hurting Tonight. The only one who failed here was Leno but hes in good w/NBC so Obrien never had a chance. Dont know whats going to happen w/ Conan but a move to Fox puts him in a worse position than he just left. So he may be better than Leno but hes got a real uphill battle.

    January 22, 2010 at 12:47 am | Report abuse |
  50. amanda

    leno is an ass. Thanks Conan, you hot ginge you! 🙂

    January 22, 2010 at 12:44 am | Report abuse |
  51. Victor

    I hate to admit this (because I am a huge fan of Leno), but after fifteen years in marketing, I can honestly say this is a bad move for NBC and Leno. This is why:

    While Conan's ratings were down, and the reason for his demise, in this last week he has been able to "earn" the support and respect of many more ( a lot more) viewers. Has his intelligence incresed this week? Is he funnier this week? No! Simply said, he's speaking up against NBC has put him in the "underdog" seat and we, as we know it, like to cheer for the underdog. So what will happen? Leno's ratings will decrease as a consequence, but not immediately, this will take a yr or two. Not because of Leno-he's awesome-but because NBC may now have a lot less viewers. When Conan comes back on TV, his old viewers, along with his new viewers, will follow him. Thus, in the end Conan will shine. NBC and Leno will need to strategize soon and make changes between now and Sept. and over the next two yearsI wish everyone the best! Hang in there Leno!

    January 22, 2010 at 12:40 am | Report abuse |
  52. Colleen

    coco is brilliant

    January 22, 2010 at 12:29 am | Report abuse |
  53. brian

    How come NBC didn't consider making leno's show a half hour and air it at 9:30 (usually a weak time anyway). Then a drama at 10. Conan keeps his job and probably gets better ratings. Then, if his ratings still suck, they make the switch and can blame Conan. They unknowingly set him up for failure and didn't give him a fair chance.

    Overall the decision will work fine for NBC (how could it get worse). But the people who like Jay are getting older and are starting to enter nursing homes. His bland generic humor is not smart enough for modern America. Conan would have done fine over time.

    January 22, 2010 at 12:16 am | Report abuse |
  54. Joe


    The shaft? I wouldn't mind getting the shaft like that. 45 million (33 million for himself, the rest to his staff)

    January 22, 2010 at 12:11 am | Report abuse |
  55. Thomas

    Man, Conan really got the shaft. This is comic gold. Sorry, NBC, you messed up something great.

    January 21, 2010 at 11:48 pm | Report abuse |
  56. dennis

    it's their loss. leno's got nothing on you!

    January 21, 2010 at 11:29 pm | Report abuse |

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