Dear Mr. O’Brien,
My name is Trevor, and I am a longtime fan of your comedy. I felt that with recent events, I needed to write to you.
For more than 20 years, I’ve watched you ascend from the writer’s room of sketch-comedy mainstay Saturday Night Live to hosting one of the most prestigious shows on television, the Tonight Show. Along the way, you crafted some of my favorite episodes of The Simpsons, hosted the wry, brilliantly smart and absurd late night talk show, Late Night with Conan O’Brien, and lent your writing skills to The Simpsons Movie.
Your talents may have been hidden behind a self-depreciating sense of humor and awkward, aw-shucks expression, but you couldn’t hide the truth. Your intelligence, dedication to your craft, work ethic and upstanding treatment of your peers, show guests, staff members and employers has been admirable to a generation of television viewers appreciative of post-modern comedy.
Along the way, you made an impression on an introverted teenager trying to find his voice. You inspired me to not only write and love writing, but to tap into a well of satirical, goofy humor hidden to most behind a shy veneer. You helped me to transmit my thoughts to paper and keyboard, and I can credit my love of comedy, my education and writing career path to you.
I know that your run of hosting of the Tonight Show was brief, but you brought a refreshingly smart, daffy and honest energy to the show that had been missing since the late Johnny Carson.There was a true sense of admiration for the position you held, and your love for the show and format was exciting to see — the few times that I did.
In a way, my writing you is part guilt, for I did not watch your broadcasts as much as I should have. I can say that I was in bed by 10 p.m., 35 minutes before your broadcast, but as a fan, I feel that I let you down. It’s bittersweet that we often realize what we have lost after the fact, and it took a network programming mess and pending show shakeup to remind me of what I had taken for granted.
Wherever you end up taking your show, or if you decide to retire from hosting duties to pursue other opportunities, please know that you will always have a fan in me. And I will not take you or your efforts for granted again.
I don’t know if this letter will ever find you, but I hope that its spirit transmits to you in some form. Until you grace the television screens once more, keep cool, Coco.