Many people like to find a personal connection to tragedies by remembering where they were when they hear a specific piece of breaking news, such as JFK’s assassination or 9/11. Conan O’Brien will likely never forget the circumstances in which he learned about Robin Williams’ death yesterday, as it occurred during the taping of his TBS talk show Conan. Not at all the kind of announcement you want to bring up during a comedy program.
As you can see in the video above, O’Brien is as visually shaken as expected when he makes the announcement to his studio audience, just as the taping for last night’s episode was wrapping up. Apologizing for breaking the news to his in-house audience, O’Brien lightly stumbles over his words in a truly rare fashion, and it’s one of the longest spans of time that the comedian has gone without smiling and bringing out his signature silliness.
“This is absolutely shocking and horrifying and so upsetting on every level,” O’Brien said, taking a couple of minutes to show reverence to the manic stylings of Williams. He invites co-host Andy Richter and guest Will Arnett to say a few words about Williams as well. Obviously, phrases like “amazingly kind and generous” are tossed around, and Arnett says that Williams was an emotionally sweet person on top of being amazingly funny. It has to be hard to react to shocking news like this knowing that your words are going out to millions of people in a few hours.
Williams was a big friend of Conan O’Brien’s shows over the years, always bringing his usual brand of wild storytelling and improvised antics to the Burbank stage. Below is his 2009 appearance, back when O’Brien was in his Tonight Show digs.
And here’s another one of his past guest spots on Late Night with Conan O’Brien.
As much as we’ll miss Williams for being an actor and a stand-up comedian, we’re going to miss his talk show appearances almost as much. Few performers could mix the unpredictable with the uncannily loud like Williams could, and late night will forever be that much more boring now.
Did you guys watch O’Brien’s saddened reaction when Conan aired last night?