Concluding a whopping 18 seasons and 2,000 episodes, Last Call With Carson Daly bowed for the last time Friday. NBC announced its plan to end the show back in February, noting that Daly had decided to spend more time with his family.
The late-night talk show began in 2002, featuring Alicia Keys as the musical guest in its debut episode and continuing with major names including Gwyneth Paltrow, Busta Rhymes, LL Cool J and Puff Daddy in the first season. Gaining momentum early on, it went on to air five nights weekly, typically featuring longform interviews with creatives and performances from artists.
“I am proud as hell of Last Call,” said Daly at the top of the episode. “The littlest, scrappiest show on late night, it’s been my home and personal playground for almost two decades, and I’m eternally grateful for the opportunities, the friendships and all the lasting memories I’ve made along the way.”
In recalling how the whole journey began, Daly said, “In 2002, I was a 28-year-old kid, working at MTV, hosting TRL [Total Request Live], NBC wisely thought that the kid who was known for wearing black fingernail polish and talking Limp Bizkit every day was perfect late-night host material, and so they gave me a shot.”
Noting that he drew inspiration from Insomniac With David Atell, Daly continued, “I wanted a late-night show that felt like it was happening late at night, and I wanted to feature great guests, important conversations, killer music, and if at all possible, alcohol. And like that, yes, Last Call was born.”
The half-hour special highlighted numerous guests from the 5,000-plus who appeared over the years, including Jay-Z, Tina Fey, Will Ferrell, Angelina Jolie, Elton John, Spike Lee, Ryan Reynolds, the late David Bowie and Robin Williams, Jordan Peele and Chris Pratt.
“One of the things we always strived for was diversity in our talent,” said Daly. “We’ve dedicated ourselves to trying to shine a light on people and stories — big or small, famous or not — that we think you should know about.”
Among the musicians who appeared on the show through the years, Daly mentioned Halsey, Kendrick Lamar and Walk the Moon as examples of acts who made their television debuts on the show. Numerous artists including Sia, Greta Van Fleet, Haim, Justin Timberlake, Maroon 5, Rihanna, Kanye West and Panic! at the Disco were shown in the clips.
Daly recalled capturing Ed Sheeran’s Hotel Cafe performance from 2012, and played the performance in full during his last episode.”It’s just one example of what we do on the show, that’s take chances and give talented artists a platform to take off, and Ed certainly did,” said the Last Call host.
Last Call’s individual flair included allowing artists to introduce sets they wouldn’t ordinarily get to do given the time restraints of most late-night shows, such as when Green Day did a 10-minute song and when Silver Sun engaged in a weeklong residency.
Talking about the trajectory of the show, Daly recalled its humble beginnings. “This show has taken on many shapes and forms over the years — we went from borrowing SNL studio space in New York in the early days, we moved to L.A. and had our own studio, to taking the show completely out of the studio and onto the streets of L.A. The new format ushered Last Call into a new era and allowed the show to really shine.” Daly also referred to Last Call as “the little show that could.”
Fulfilling the very late-night spot will be YouTube star Lilly Singh, who debuts A Little Late With Lilly Singh in September. Daly will remain visible on television as he continues hosting The Voice.