September 18, 2001

This is our first show back on the air since the tragic events last week here in New York City. And I want to begin -- I said this just before we started taping but I want to start by thanking our studio audience that've come here and support New York and the show and everything just the situation in general for being here I think it's tremendous that you could be here. I also wanna say that it's not my place, it's not what I do to put this in perspective, it's not what I do to try and help us understand what's happened in the last week. I make a living acting like an ass generally, and for those of you who've seen the show that's sadly true. No one is looking to me to put this in perspective. But I do need to do, what's very important to do, is to tell that we air our show that's done out of New York. We air our show that's done here in New York City. There're about 104 people that work on this show. And they live here, they work here, and all of us have been affected by what's happened. Last Friday we got together and we tried to decide can we go and do shows now, when can we go do show, can we go start on Tuesday doing a show. And I have to be very honest with you a lot of people felt that we shouldn't, that we couldn't, that it wasn't the right time. And yet I felt strongly and a bunch of people on the staff felt strongly that we have to get back to work -- it's what all of us have to do. We also have to come together a little bit because this show Late Night with Conan O'Brien is not me: This show is a lot of people that work very hard, that live in this city. And we need to come together to do our job. I will be very honest with you: I have no idea how to do what we've been doing. Tonight I have no idea how to do it. Tomorrow I'll have no idea. And the rest of the week I'll have no idea how we're gonna get back to doing this again. And that's how we all feel. I've made a career of getting in right over my head, and I've never ever felt more unsure or more at a loss than I do tonight. I will not lie to you: I don't know exactly how we're gonna do this. But we're gonna try to do it. That's what I've decided: we're gonna try and do. That's what Max and the band have decided to do. That's what the writers have decided to do. That's what a lot of people here feel the right thing to do is to get back and to just try to move forward and to make sense of our lives when absolutely nothing make sense. I don't talk about these things on the air but I was raised Catholic. And today I did what I haven't done since the first show went on the air on September 13. I so felt that I needed help, I needed somebody, something to help me. Then I went across the street to the St. Patric cathedral and sat there for a little bit. I'm very glad I did and it had nothing to do with what my religion is or what anybody's religion is. It has nothing to do with any of that. I sat in there and it's beautiful beautiful building. I don't care what faith you are, I don't care what your belief. It's just this beautiful building and it made me realize that as much as we've lost this week, here I'm sitting in this amazing structure: this city still has so much. It's an amazing city; I'm not from here I'm from Boston. I grew up fearing this city. I grew up frankly hating this city. I've been here for 8 years and I sat here and then I realized we've lost so much and again I'm not going to attempt to tell you how much New York has lost. But sitting there I thought this is such a beautiful place, we still have so much, and we have to thank God. And by I mean God it can mean whatever that means to you. We just have to thank God for what we still have and what we still can do. I also know that if I say anything else tonight -- I know we have a young audience that watches us. I just know that over the years people have come up to me and talked me about the show and expressed enthusiasm. There're a lot of young people watching. And there's a lot of cynicism among young people and if I could say anything tonight to any of the people that watch our little show at 12:30 at night who are young I would ask you not to be cynical. I would ask you to accept that as horrible and senseless as this things is that there is goodness in people, that collectively we're amazing country, that we've done a lot -- I have this guy on my desk, Robert Smigel game me this Eisenhower mug, and it was on my desk at the Saturday Night Live, it was on my desk at The Simpsons. I've always kept it here on the show since the day one, it's been here on every show. We're in an amazing country. There is a lot of goodness in the world and I would ask young people not to give in to cynicism in any way and to try and rise above themselves and just somehow be better in this situation, somehow grow in this horrible horrible situation. Let's try and grow. Let's try and accomplish something. Let's try and make some sense out of what is a horrible terrible senseless act. I wish I could do more for my staff. There're people here that are numb. There're people that are very depressed as I'm sure there're all over the country. There're people here that are terribly terribly saddened and lost. I wish I could do more. I wish I could say something to them. All I can say is that tonight we're gonna start and we're gonna try and make this little show, which has always been silly and unprofessional and largely inconsequential in the larger world. We're gonna try and do one of these tonight and then we'll try tomorrow and then so on.
And so... Let's begin