Follow Your Failures.

Conan O’Brien is one of my favorite people that I’ve never met.

Like millions of others, I can claim to have been in the same room as him – and by room, I mean the giant theater at the Palms Resort in Las Vegas. I paid $75 from my part time wages to see Conan at his “Legally Prohibited From Being Funny On Television” tour, proudly displaying my Team Coco shirt. By myself. In the top most upper section. But anyone who wears an imitation knock off of the leather suit worn by Eddie Murphy in “Raw” deserves all my pennies.


I have a feeling if Conan and I did meet, we’d feel incredibly awkward (stranger danger, hello) and crack far too many icebreaker jokes and puns that we’d somehow find ourselves immediately comfortable with one other. After all, we are of the same pale Irish kin. Although Ryan Gosling, Chris Hemsworth, and Johnny Depp are on my top five list, if presented with the opportunity to meet Conan, it wouldn’t just be a fangirl Facebook post of a snapshot photo (or a restraining order from an attempted dry hump) but a weighted moment in time. I’ve been laughing with this guy for nearly half my life, and there are some people who – without knowing them – you just know are of your kind.

He’s the super smart, incredibly funny guy who never lets an awkward moment go unseen. He’s an improv king who has a vast vocabulary and isn’t afraid to use it. He’s also the most pop culturally savvy almost-50 year old who could easily hang with the college scene while shooting the shit with the 30-40 year olds. He’s an everyman, and although he’s found his fame and fortune, he’s remained a regular guy. I don’t bundle him with the Goslings, Hemsworths, or Paltrows. He’s one of us, a normal dude who just so happens to have a television show.

So when Jay Leno took down the everyman, shit got real. I cried for Conan on that last Tonight Show, because he took one for the team. The uptight older guy pulled the rug out from under our Lego-building, wand-waving, hobbit-loving, pun-wielding, nerdtastic feet. But Conan brought to life that cliche about falling and getting back up – my favorite version in which came from Rocky Balboa:

“It ain’t how hard you hit; it’s about how hard you can get hit, and keep moving forward. How much you can take, and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done.”

Conan got fucking rocked. If there was ever anyone who got screwed by the pooch in the entertainment industry, it’s him. But Conan said himself, not everyone gets exactly what they want.

And that’s what he told the lucky bastards at Dartmouth last year when he was asked be their 2011 Commencement guest speaker. I hate you, Dartmouth. Just needed to get that out of the way.

Conan gave one of the greatest speeches on planet earth with a surprisingly rich and inspirational message. He took his own shortcomings and told all those graduates that disappointments are inevitable, but not defining. I’ll let his words do the rest.

It’s okay to be afraid of failure, but don’t let failure cloud your head devaluing your full potential. Shit happens, and for all you know, failure was your greatest moment. Take it from Conan, he has reached new levels of comedy gold because he picked himself up and had to figure out something else to do with his talents. Boom.


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