Bearded, buoyant and borderline belligerent, an awesomely inebriated Conan O'Brien, flanked by two of his equally sloshed comedic buddies Patton Oswalt and Andy Richter, offered up nuggets of sage advice and spontaneous comedic gems to Herbst Theatre's audience on Saturday. The theatre was packed to the gills with staunch members of Team Coco celebrating the 9th Annual SF Sketchfest.
Patton Oswalt came onstage toting a bottle of wine and immediately announced that the three of them went to Andalu in the Mission before the show to loosen up. "I forgot that Conan is a giant and Andy's an alcoholic, so I'm the drunk one now," he admitted.
That it was more like an epic bro-down (that couldn't stay on topic for more than 5 minutes) than an informative conversation didn't matter. It was hilarious. Conan, between jokes about being drunk and unhinged, occasionally got serious enough to tell the audience more than once that the young comedians looking to make it today had more opportunities than he ever did.
Referring to the hours of YouTube footage anyone could have today compared to the one blurry photograph he had to his name when he took over for David Letterman in 1993, Conan confessed, "If I was around today, I'd be f***ed. I'd have lost my job to a cat s**tting on a toilet!"
He repeatedly apologized to the audience who had waited since January for the rescheduled show. "These people have been waiting since January!" he would scream, red-faced and vehement about giving the audience their money's worth.
Between giving hope to up-and-comers by encouraging them to be as genuine as possible and only making subtle references to NBC and Jay Leno, Conan proved himself to be an absolute class act at a pivotal time in both his career and the history of broadcast media, even with a stomach full of alcohol (we counted two bottles of wine).
All in all, it was one big Conan love fest. He gave and received jabs from his onstage pals Oswalt (who left the stage at one point to go to the restroom but left his microphone on while he was at it) and Richter, poured a glass of wine for one fervent fan who sprinted to the front when he noticed four empty seats in the front and ordered them to be filled. He sat on the edge of the stage during parts of the Q & A, shook hands and gave out hugs.
"Ego is the one thing that gets in the way, if you let it," he told the audience. "I've never made it a secret that there are tons of people who work for me who I admire and would love to work for in the future."
Freewheeling and unscripted, the entire night passed in a flash and looking back, Conan and a few gallons of truth serum gave us a completely pure look at a man at the front lines of our changing world.
Catch his new show on TBS, debuting this fall.