Tonight is the last episode of Conan O'Brien's terribly short reign at the "Tonight Show." If there was one amazing hallmark to Conan himself, it was that his supporting cast, at both Late Night and Tonight, was littered by dozens of completely off-the-wall characters. These were mostly named after what they did (Masturbating Bear, Robot on The Toilet, The Coked-Up Werewolf, etc) and that basically served as their primary function. They would appear, we would laugh, Conan would be amazed about how lame they were and then the character would get sad and leave. Then we laughed again.
There were several hundred characters introduced during the 16 year run of Late Night, and the 7 month run of the Tonight Show, mostly being seen for one time only. But a certain handful of characters, liked them or not, caught on and kept coming back. Here now are fifteen of my absolute favorites. This was originally a ten item list...but then I thought of five more.
#15: The Bugatti Veyron Mouse
The most recent addition in Conan's roster of characters, it's the most expensive car in the world, dressed up as a mouse, with an original master recording of the Rolling Stone's "Satisfaction" serving as its theme song. It was just there to say "Screw you" to NBC by pretty much replacing him with Leno. It's price tag? A speculated worth of $1.5 million. "Speculated" was typed due to the car not being bought, but lent from a museum. The song itself WAS a massive bitch to clear the rights for, money-wise, which explains why you'll never see it again outside of this picture and Youtube.
It was a bit that was simple enough: A dumb, random sketch involved a duck walking on screen when someone told Conan to "Duck." People loved the duck so much, he was brought back on the next night, when something incredibly horrifying happened: The duck crapped onscreen, and then after a pause BEGAN TO EAT IT. Horrifying Conan and the rest of the audience, "Quakers, The Shit-Eating Duck" became a running joke among the fandom as a testament to the greatness that is unscripted television. I loved that so much.
#13: The FedEx Pope
I loved him, but in an ironic tone. But then again, so did everyone else, as even Conan admitted that he was too lame to be killed off. My favorite moments from him? Being spared from being killed off via a wood chipper that already claimed the lives of "Shoeverine" and "Mansy the Man-Pansy," and the time where he once took a nap that was a satirical jab to the late Pope John Paul II's wake. (pictured above)
I think he was finally retired when Conan ended "Late Night," but I don't even think he had the urge to retire him with all of the others when it was their turn. Every time I look at that picture, I wonder just who the hell thought him up?
#12: Preparation H Raymond
I don't know why he was funny nor why he should be (he had big, hairy ears and gave out free tubes of Preparation H), but I loved him none the less. Perhaps it was his infectious theme song which explained the symptoms that his products relieved in the most garish of detail.
"Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh/If you got a rectal itch/Ramond's here!/Raymond's here!/If you got a butt that ya need to scratch/Ramond's here to help!"
#11: Little Jay Leno
[sadly, no pic of him exists on the internet :( ]
He was just some midget actor that looked a hell of a lot like the real Jay Leno, except 1/8th his size. For some reason, I found him hysterical, and I wished that HE was hosting the Tonight Show over the real one.
One of the properties that the show could use for free was Frankenstein. He was the star of a segment called "Frankenstein Wastes a Minute of Our Time," where Frankenstein would leave the Late Night set to seek out some lame object in a far corner of the backstage of the studio. One of my favorite segments was when during one of his travels, he passes by Tom Hanks and pays more attention to showing off the light switch that was behind him.
#9. Abe Vigoda
Everyone's favorite Not-Dead Actor, Conan loved trotting out Abe at every opportunity that he could. Sadly, he couldn't join Conan in LA, as he was set free into the wild during Late Night's final episode.
#8. La Bamba
The band's resident trombone player was the resident butt-monkey of the show, mostly for his utter lack of acting skills. Why was he riffed on so much? I don't really give a damn, but I hope he, his mustache, and his Popemobile follows Conan wherever he goes.
#7. Pierre Bernard
One of Late Night Comedy's greatest Nerds, he was shot into the spotlight when he created the "Recliner of Rage" segment over his detest that [adult swim] had replaced "Cowboy Bebop" with "Case Closed" in the 1am Weeknight Slot at the time. He loved Bebop's opening theme so much that listening to it at that hour was the only way he was able to fall asleep. Thankfully, he moved to LA with Conan to nerd out on that side of the country, but the recliner stayed in New York.
#6: The Walker Texas Ranger Lever
When NBC merged with Universal, Conan realized something brilliant: He can show awesome, out-of-context clips of "Walker, Texas Ranger" whenever he wanted for absolutely no charge! You can thank the whole "Chuck Norris Facts" craze on this thing.
Like all good late night bits, it was repeated ad-nauseum for the span of roughly a month when everyone grew tired of it. It took a break for a few years until it was brought back for Late Night's final week, where it played everyone's favorite clip: Haley Joel Osmont telling some people "Walker told me I have AIDS."
#5: Robert Smigel's Arnold Scwarzenegger Impression
One segment that I've been very pissed about not joining Conan at the Tonight Show was his "Live Via Satellite" segments, where Conan interviews cutouts of celebrities who would never appear on the show, with their mouths animated Clutch Cargo-style and usually voiced by Robert Smigel (Fun Fact: This is called Syncro-Vox). My favorite one was Robert's over the top impression of Arnold Swarzenegger, who always spouted non sequitor quotes from his movies and pimping "Jingle All The Way" for no reason whatsoever.
#4. The Random, Arbitrary Characters
I loved these guys, as it was a hallmark to the deepest depths of absurdity that Conan and his writers dove to just for create some kind of lame joke. Some of the more well-known ones:
"Gorilla Nurse Using an Old-Timey Abdominal Exerciser to Juice Newton's 'Angel in The Morning"
"Castro Rabbit DJ"
"Tortoise Rabbi Riding a Mechanical Bull"
"The World's Fastest Menorah"
"Cactus Chef playing 'We Didn't Start The Fire' on The Flute" (pictured)
"Fire Hydrant Pimp Riding a Skateboard"
"The Sears Tower Wearing Sears Clothing"
"Raccoon with a Jetpack"
and my favorite: "Scuba Diving Meatloaf Sitting in a Wheelchair," who was always backed up by the band singing "Chatanooga Choo-Choo" whenever the camera cut to it.
#3: Pimpbot 5000
It was an old-timey looking robot, yet acted like a totally badass pimp. What's not to love?! I must confess, this character was retired before I was a regular viewer of "Late Night," but he was awesome in all of the clips I saw him in.
#2: The Masturbating Bear
The utter epitome of crass humor, all he did was jiggle his diaper and everyone would roar with laughter. His inevitable appearance on the Tonight Show was the clearest sign that the show was going to end, as Conan truly had nothing left to lose by letting him do his thing.
#1: Triumph The Insult Comic Dog
Yeah, of course this guy was going to be #1. A puppet that can say and do whatever he damn well pleases, and it's guaranteed comedy gold wherever he goes. My favorite bit? Of course, it's his trip to the premiere of "Attack of The Clones," which pretty much put him AND Conan himself into stardom.
Wherever you go, CoCo, I just want to let you know that I'll be there with you, regardless if any of these other guys are able to join you.
To my readers: Who was YOUR favorite character?
Honorable Mentions include: The Interrupter, Max Weinberg, Cloppy, The Slipnuts, Oldy Oldstein, Wing, Kayak Guy, The Hunky Newcomer, Cody Devereaux, Wax!Fonzie & Wax!Tom Cruise, Andy's Little Sister, and Joel Goddard & His Asian Male Escort Toshi.