Any list of the greatest moments in late night TV history would be incomplete without Conan O’Brien shouting “WHAT IS THAT DEMONRY?!” at a plane flying overhead. Maybe not the most iconic part of the beloved “Old-Timey Baseball” remote segment — that might be a mustachioed O’Brien taunting a batter in his best imitation of 1860s vernacular — it’s still an example of the kind of quotable late-night bit that for years has only existed in a hodgepodge of YouTube clips and collective memory.
Now, this clip and countless others are available as part of the ongoing online archival project Conan25, which seeks to gather the best segments from O’Brien’s quarter century in late night. Organized by format and thematic category, this collection gets as close to a comprehensive archive as any one late night show has aggregated.
There’s a good reason that when Conan bid farewell to “Late Night,” he not only picked “Old-Timey Baseball” to play during the final episode as his personal favorite, he introduced it by saying, “I’ve told the staff, ‘When I leave this earth, at the funeral, just show this because this pretty much says who I’m all about.'” The 8-minute segment follows O’Brien’s 2004 excursion to a New York park where enterprising baseball enthusiasts played the game in Civil War-era garb and played by period-specific rules.
Even before he puts on the uniform himself, Conan’s already in character. (Viewers should immediately pick up on the idea that one of TV’s most well-read hosts wasn’t secretly enjoying a chance to immerse himself in late-19th century culture, regardless of the context.)
From the running bit of everyone claiming that their 1860s character is a farmer to Conan shouting “You ass!” at everyone making errors on the field, there’s a reason this one has become a fan favorite, too. Him interviewing everyone from the umpire (excuse me, “referee”) to the players to the women spectators, there’s a simmering battle of wits as everyone tries to make each other break. It’s essentially one of TV’s most famous longform improv scenes.
But the best part about the way that Team Coco has preserved this clip is that it’s kept the original 2004 intro. Watching Conan at his “Late Night” apex, just riffing on the audience reaction to the concept of seasons, is an integral part to anyone seeing the clip for the first time. (Keeping “When we come back, Michael Moore is here!” at the end also puts this clip in its own specific time and place as effectively as his jokey mustache does during the remote.)
For any “Late Night” neophyte, the site’s “Fan Favorite” tab is a solid beginning point. Aside from this baseball trip, the site has classic segments like “Apple Picking with Mr. T” and a compendium of Triumph the Insult Comic Dog clips, from “Star Wars” lines and beyond. There are also excerpts from the Finland episode that’s a spiritual ancestor to the “Conan Without Borders” specials that are still ongoing.
In the meantime, for anyone who’s ever heard someone put on a hard-to-place accent and shout “Please cool me again!” find out what they were referencing below: