Conan O'Brien Speaks with Slur, Fails to Recall Year Following Scary Tonight Show Head Injury: VIDEO
Head injuries are no laughing matter, even when the victim themselves joke about their own mishaps -- which was exactly the case with Natasha Richardson before she succumbed to the tragic, fatal fall she suffered on a Quebec ski hill earlier this year. So news that Conan O'Brien took a spill Friday during the taping of a Tonight Show segment that was serious enough to land him in Cedars-Sinai and bring production to a halt sent us into our weekends with a lingering unease. (And sure enough, Jay Leno voiced our darkest fears when he made an insensitive joke about the incident on his show last night, telling Kevin Eubanks how they very nearly earned their own timeslot back.)
Thankfully, the old Conan we know and love returned to his perch last night, perhaps a bit shaken and a shade more pallid than usual, if that's possible, as he described his scary experiences.
As it happens, the accident occurred during the last stretch of a mini-triathalon pitting him against Teri Hatcher (it was her idea). He falls backwards and his head takes a good thwack against the ground, but even more disturbing are the moments immediately following, which he aired as well.
Conan tries to stand up, fails, then attempts to cut to commercial. His voice sounds slurry, as if he'd just had several strong cocktails. Why at that point he was allowed to continue with the taping is a topic for discussion, but he was. Aided by loyal sidekick Andy Richter, who rode the ambulance with him to the hospital, O'Brien then recounted the sketchy moments that immediately followed:
In that moment I saw stars but I tried to keep going. I honestly don't remember this part, but I tried to stand up and I couldn't stand up, and I tried to throw to a replay, which I did. I kind of couldn't speak. I thanked Teri Hatcher, and I don't remember any of this. I went into my dressing room, changed my suit, they blowdryed my hair real fast, I sat at the desk, the audience is sitting here just like they are now, the band's playing, and they hand me a blue card and I'm sitting here looking at the Seth MacFarlane card, and I look up at my producer Jeff Ross and Dan Ferguson, and I say, "I don't know what I'm supposed to do. I don't know what this is." It was like a menu for an Egyptian restaurant. I mean it might as well have been.
So Jeff said come with me, and this is where it got very spotty...I'm sitting out in the hall, and all of you are asking me questions. I don't remember this, but a nurse came in and was asking me questions. And I kept repeating, "Let's do the show." But I also kept asking [Andy] what happened. [They said, 'What year is it?'] My first answer was, "I know it's not 2011." And people were telling me I was sitting there like, "I'm going to get this."
Frightening stuff, but apparently by the time he had gotten to the hospital, he was coming around and tests showed no neurological damage. Interestingly enough, the spill was very similar to the one Jimmy Fallon had taken at the Emmys. Fallon's tumble was scripted, but if you watch it slowed down, his full commitment to the pratfall resulted in his own head smacking backwards on a similarly slick studio floor. That could have been NBC's entire late-night programming block taken out in two fell swoops.
Let the conspiracy theorizing recommence.
Here is the official Tonight Show clip of the fall:
Here is Fallon's similar Emmys fall, courtesy of Movieline commenter SunnyDaze: