Rudd enlisted an unsuspecting Bill Hader to help him set up the latest in an almost two-decade experiment in absurdity — and Bill has an even better reaction than Conan.
It’s easily one of the most heartwarming — and ridiculous — ongoing gags in late-night television, but it may have just come to an end on Monday night.
With this the last week for “Conan” on TBS, Paul Rudd actually crashed Bill Hader’s appearance with Conan O’Brien to pull off what might be the most epic variation yet on the prank he’s been pulling for nearly 20 years.
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As Paul has explained on multiple occasions, he finds it insincere and a little pathetic to come onto a talk show and hawk his projects and play clips of them. So he fell on this idea many years ago to instead play an absolutely atrocious clip from the awful 1988 “E.T.” knock-off, “Mac & Me”.
Every time, Conan plays it off like he’s actually expecting that this time Paul will come through and play the actual clip from whatever project he sets up. But every time, it doesn’t happen.
This time, though, Paul had no project to plug. Instead, he stormed onto the stage as Bill was blaming him for a terrible “Saturday Night Live” sketch that never aired to set the record straight. The sketch apparently featured an obnoxious parody celebrity voice put on by both Bill and Paul. It made it to dress, but not the final cut.
When Paul said, though, that he actually had that dress rehearsal footage, Bill asked him, “Really?” and followed that up with “s—” when Paul insisted he did have it. Either Bill was a great actor in that moment (and after), or he legitimately had no idea what was about to happen.
Considering, we get plenty of “cut-for-time” sketches from dress uploaded right to YouTube these days, there was no reason to doubt that Paul was about to embarrass both of them with this sketch he said Lorne Michaels told him was the worst-received sketch of all time.
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Of course, it was all an elaborate setup for what everyone should have known was coming next. And let us just say, if you’ve never seen this clip from a movie so bad that it’s offensive by its very existence, you absolutely need to.
You might think you’d never laugh at a kid in a wheelchair rolling off a cliff and falling into a large body of water … but you’d be wrong. And you are definitely laughing at something that was not intended for your laughter, but is still so very deserving of it.
It’s always Paul’s absolutely deadpan delivery of the setup to this fakeout each and every time that makes it work. There is absolutely no reason for him to keep doing this, and he’s kept it up from boutique projects to major big-budget features like Marvel’s “Ant-Man” and “Avengers” films.
And now, the recurring late-night gag that seemed as eternal as Paul himself may have finally come to an end. Considering how it’s become so tied to Conan’s career across his various late-night shows, it’s wonderful that Paul was able to make it happen for Conan’s final week on TBS.
The final episode of “Conan” airs Thursday night at 11 p.m. ET on TBS.
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