Conan O'Brien Takes a Hit Off a Joint on TV
If ever there was a sign that weed is becoming mainstream, it had to be O'Brien smoking a joint on TV with Seth Rogen
Everyone knows Seth Rogen is an influential comedian in Hollywood. But who could have guessed he could make a guy who never smokes weed decide to smoke weed? Or that he would do it on television?
That's what happened this summer with late-night host Conan O'Brien, who retired in June from his long-running show on TBS (he's not quitting, though, just starting a new show on HBO Max). In one of his final shows, O'Brien had Rogen as a guest.
Rogen, who has his own brand of weed called Houseplant, had a simple suggestion for how O'Brien could fill up any free time he has in the future (his new show is weekly, not five nights a week): "I would suggest - this going to be hilariously on-brand —try smoking a lot of weed for a long time."
Rogen acknowledged his advice might not land, considering O'Brien does not "seem like someone who smokes a lot of weed." O'Brien admitted he never smokes weed. Rogen then presented a joint and advised O'Brien to take one hit.
O'Brien did, to roars of approval from the audience. It may have been a first for a major talk show host (excluding outspoken weed-advocate Bill Maher, who has a show on HBO).
It's an exciting moment, especially for older generations.
For younger people, what O'Brien did is no big deal. Most comments on the YouTube video give more credit to Andy Richter, who inhaled much longer and with more authority than O'Brien, who took a hit like a newbie.
Still, for Baby Boomers - one of the largest demographics for weed use - the moment seemed almost surreal. It's impossible to imagine Johnny Carson, Jay Leno, or David Letterman firing up on TV. It's even a stretch for Stephen Colbert and Jimmy Fallon. And forget about Dick Cavett, Mike Douglas, or Dinah Shore (for the over 60 crowd).
Not that alcohol didn't show up often. Seth Meyer hosts a segment where he day drinks with various celebrities. Jimmy Kimmel does a "three ridiculous questions" segment with guests set in a bar that's a promotion for a vodka brand. Then there are the many incidents of people chugging booze live on air - even Betty White, famously.
But smoking a joint? Not even legalization in many parts of the country has led to that happening on mainstream talk shows. "This is the kind of thing you do when you know it's over for you," O'Brien joked before lighting up, proving smoking even legal weed on a mainstream talk show still requires a bit of justification.
Of course, what happens backstage and offscreen is another story
While O'Brien's smoking weed on TV might be something of a landmark for mainstream talk show hosts, it's nothing new for talk show hosts themselves. Alcohol and weed around the set of a late night talk show are as common as water bottles.
High Times once put together a list of talk show hosts who smoke weed. It includes Kimmel, who once made a point of getting high during an interview with Rolling Stone. Other talk show hosts include Letterman, Whoopi Goldberg, Chelsea Handler, Jimmy Fallon, and Maher.
Elon Musk also famously took a toke on Joe Rogan's podcast, "The Joe Rogan Experience." But the entertainment press gave O'Brien credit for breaking a taboo in the mainstream world of TV talk shows. Screenrant wrote: "Now that he's smoked weed with Rogen on-air, there's no denying O'Brien is one of the all-time great talk show hosts."