Freshman Catherine Mounger was passing out fliers at The Rock today when a wave of students donning scarlet wigs and chanting “Coco! Coco! Coco!” marched towards her.
“I’m very confused on why people have these red wigs on,” she said, wide-eyed and shocked. “I really don’t know what’s going on. There’s a person with a Fed Ex hat on! Is this for human rights?”
It wasn’t. Instead, the group was walking around campus in support of Conan O’Brien, the late night talk show host famous for his flaming red hair and quirky comedy. Known to fans as “Coco,” O’Brien recently decided to leave The Tonight Show when NBC moved Jay Leno back to his original time slot, pushing O’Brien’s show to after midnight. Instead of compromising, O’Brien opted to leave the network completely, despite having been on air for just seven months.
Senior Tim McGovern, a two-time intern at The Tonight Show, organized the rally, termed “Conan O’Brien Day,” that gathered everyone in the lobby of Norris this afternoon. Dressed in a suit and a red wig, McGovern wanted to honor O’Brien before his last show aired.
“He has an amazing character and he treats comedy like an art, and I really respect that,” McGovern said. “I’m a huge, huge Conan O’Brien fan and I think this is the best way to support him.”
“Leno, you please people older than my great grandparents; kudos to you,” he added. “NBC, I think you’ve made a huge mistake.”
Others there agreed with McGovern’s criticism.
“Conan is very funny,” Jon Goncalvez, a freshman, said. “NBC is terribly run.”
“I’d try to hold my tongue, but I certainly would give [Jay Leno] a dirty look, I’ll tell you that,” graduate student Michael Depland added.
The event’s popularity even reached O’Brien, who mentioned the rally on air Wednesday night.
“On Friday, this is weird, Northwestern University is holding a Conan O’Brien Day where a group of students will gather on campus and do the string dance,” O’Brien announced. “Then, the football team will beat the crap out of them.”
However, the football team was nowhere near the group as they strolled around campus, stopping to dance at Norris, University Library, the Rock and the Arch. At every stop, the group would do the string dance, a signature O’Brien move.
The dancing impressed Catherine Mounger.
“It’s cute, I mean, they’ve got their hips going,” she said. “I think it’s pretty awesome that people are brave enough to make strange hip movements in public.”
To Michael Depland, the tribute should pay off. He says that Conan O’Brien, despite calling the event “weird,” will appreciate their efforts.
“I certainly think that he’s flattered,” he said. “It’s all a bit surreal.”
When the rally ended at the Arch, Depland had a final message for his favorite late night talk show host.
“Conan, thank you and don’t go,” he said. “We love watching you and we hate that this had to happen this way because we really do love you and we think you’re funny.”