Conan's final Tonight Show was emotional, but there were no outbursts, no fires, no car wrecks. On a night where he could say anything, Conan attacked only cynicism and thanked NBC for what they gave before any promises had broken.
The speech was probably the best in late night history. When one compares the O'Brien farewell with the Carson farewell, the difference is glaring.
There is a cathartic tearing down of the denial wall in Conan's last moments, while Johnny made the simple points his audience had been expecting and were ready for. Carson may not have had the circumstances to present as important a speech as Conan granted his audience, but that doesn't mean Conan doesn't deserve the acknowledgment. He gave a lot of people a concise rubric on how to be a better man.
When all Johnny had to say was, "Goodbye," Conan figured out a way to say, "Thank you."
And as beautiful as the final speech was, so too was the grand exit. It's hard to mix comedy with sentiment, but Conan O'Brien's send off was just that. Somehow as beautiful as it was goofy; It was the last many of us ever plan to see of late night NBC television.