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Paul Rudd crashed Conan on Monday night, reviving a long-running gag and revealing the story behind Saturday Night Live’s “worst-received sketch of all time” alongside guest and former SNL castmember Bill Hader.
During an appearance on the TBS late night show as part of its final week of episodes, Hader, the Emmy-winning creator-star of HBO’s dark comedy Barry, recalled a sketch that “went terribly wrong.”
Inspired by his time working with Ed Burns on one of his first jobs, the 2007 romantic comedy Purple Violets, the sketch — which never made it out of dress rehearsal — was dubbed “Ed Burns Grill Boys” and featured both Hader and Rudd, who was hosting, mimicking Burns’ voice.
“We went out there to do to dress [rehearsal], and I did the voice, but Paul, for some reason, would not do the voice,” Hader told O’Brien. “And I don’t understand why Paul decided not to do it.”
Before Hader could finish his version of the story, the Ant-Man star and frequent Conan guest appeared onstage dressed in a tuxedo and, after pulling up a stool next to Hader, began to recount his version of the experience.
After declaring, “How dare you!” and refuting Hader’s memory that he didn’t do the voice by doing his version, Rudd shared his own recollection of the sketch — including SNL boss Lorne Michaels’ response.
“Now, I might not be a trained monkey boy like your man over here with the voices,” Rudd said to laughs and clapping, “but if I remember correctly, I did do the voice. The reason this sketch didn’t work, is that it was terrible.”
Rudd described the sketch, which featured him and Hader “standing around, both of us as Ed Burns, just talking about our pop and grilling meat.” Despite both men thinking it was funny, the audience evidently disagreed. According to Rudd, the sketch got “not one laugh.”
“In fact — this is true — Lorne said in his history with the show, it was the worst sketch of all time.”
To bolster his point, Rudd said he’d brought along a clip from the sketch — but it turned out to be his final opportunity to carry out a long-running gag.
The clip was not from the never-aired SNL sketch. Instead, it was a scene from the 1988 film Mac and Me that was initially shown by Rudd during a 2004 episode of NBC’s Late Night With Conan O’Brien to promote his appearance on Friends. Since then, Rudd has pulled the prank numerous times, and on Monday, garnered thunderous applause and laughs from the Conan crowd.
“It’s been like 25 years of you coming on the show, and you would never show — you’d always say ‘I’ve got a clip’ and you would — every time, for years, I would be convinced that I would see the real clip because you’re such a genuinely nice person,” O’Brien said. “And you would say, ‘No this movie’s really important to me and I put my own money into this and I really care about this’ — and then you pull that shit every time.”
The final episode of Conan will air on Thursday, June 24, on TBS.
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