Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Conan and friends
Conan and friends
Screenshot: Conan

If The Office taught us anything, it’s that absolutely everyone loves it when their boss unexpectedly turns up at their after-work social functions. Thankfully for Conan associate producer and hip single millennial Kelli Smith, her boss, unlike the fictional head of Dunder Mifflin’s Scranton branch, wades into a cool kids party knowing full well he’s not wanted. On Tuesday’s show, the eponymous head of Team Coco cajoled the game Smith into letting him crash her Zoom happy hour hang with her similarly young friends (on a Tuesday, no less), a comic culture clash that—for good or ill—did not include any reluctant Dolly Parton-Kenny Rogers karaoke, but still brought plenty of laughs.

What this segment did have going for it was Conan O’Brien, who, being stuck responsibly at home for these past months with his no-doubt schtick-weary family, needs to hit the web to find new people to perform for. Donning a hoodie and a sideways baseball cap and cannonballing into the online gathering with a beaming, try-hard, “What’s the hot goss, ladies?,” Conan was the quintessential old guy in the parking lot who can’t stop asking the kids where the cool parties are. And if Smith’s crowd was more into home-mixed Cosmopolitans than Conan’s liberally swigged, Real Housewives-aping “buttery chard,” the host’s pre-bombing anticipation of all the “swiping left,” “swiping right,” and hashtagging he would undoubtedly be seeing almost certainly made up for it. (Conan’s potentially disastrous misquoting of “Julio, get the stretch” happened before the call started, luckily for him.)

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With Smith’s friends popping into the call one after the other, it gave Conan the opportunity to whip out a hearty, party-starting “Woo!” each time, before effortfully getting immediately deep and personal about their lives. You know, rapping, like the kids do these days. (His relationship advice is actually sort of solid, to be honest.) Some unwitting guests tried to play it cool (okay, Alex, you’re in TV too, we get it), while the fact that, as one pal put it, “Kelli’s coworker” was on the call sent others into happily bewildered, camera-friendly giggle-fit. And while it’s tempting to say that this sort of goofing around is emblematic of the new normal where late-night hosts have to scrounge around the house for new bits, honestly Conan has been pretty much making his coworkers’ lives comically miserable for a long time now.

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Contributor, The A.V. Club. Danny Peary's Cult Movies books are mostly to blame.

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