Conan O'Brien was certainly the most talented host with a seven-month tenure in the history of "The Tonight Show" and - come to think of it - he was the only host with a seven-month tenure. Too bad we'll never know how good he could have become, because Friday night was the end.
With an emotional, funny, tearful and classy goodbye - Conan O'Brien is a classy guy - the fifth host of "The Tonight Show" said goodnight for the last time. It was farewell that even NBC would have appreciated, and probably did.
"I have worked with NBC for over 20 years. Yes, we have our differences right now and yes, we're going to go our separate ways. But this company has been my home for most of my adult life. I am enormously proud of the work we have done together, and I want to thank NBC for making it all possible."
Thank NBC - the network he's trashed (playfully) for the last couple weeks? Well, yes - when you walk out the door with a $45-million check (some of which will go to colleagues) and a solid 17-year run, what else are you supposed to say?
In his opening monologue, O'Brien - destined for parts unknown tonight but Fox might not be a bad bet - joked, "Ladies and Gentleman, we have exactly one hour to steal every single item in this studio."
He added: "We've a had a lot of fun being here these last seven months, but like everything in life, the fun has to come to an end a decade too early."
There were jokes - yeah, what else - but in the end, thanks.
"Walking away from 'The Tonight Show' is the hardest thing I have ever had to do" - he rejected an offer to move it to 12:05.
"Making this choice has been enormously difficult. This is the best job in the world, I absolutely love doing it, and I have the best staff and crew in the history of the medium. But despite this sense of loss, I really feel this should be a happy moment. Every comedian dreams of hosting 'The Tonight Show' and, for seven months, I got to. I did it my way, with people I love, and I do not regret a second. I've had more good fortune than anyone I know and if our next gig is doing a show in a 7-Eleven parking lot, we'll find a way to make it fun."
And these final words: "All I ask of you is one thing: please don't be cynical. I hate cynicism - it's my least favorite quality and it doesn't lead anywhere."