And so we came to the end: Conan's speech was done and the band started playing the show's closing theme and the guys out in the hallway dragged in a bucket with various pieces of the proscenium which had been chopped up some into little chips of wood, some into really good-sized cylinders of lumber still intact. My father remembered the promise how everyone would get something and it did look like this would be challenging but maybe possible as Conan walked up the stage-right aisle --- the one in front of his desk --- handing out pieces, shaking hands, and signing autographs, and at one point looking over a crudely made ``WE LOVE CONAN'' cardboard sign someone had smuggled in this way. The closing theme runs very long in the studio and is almost invariably cut on broadcast; for this episode, though, it wasn't trimmed. They ran a special Thank You to, as far as I could determine, everybody who'd worked on the show who was still alive. (That's not sarcasm; I did recognize names of writers or directors or performers who had left the show years and years ago.)
Well. The promise that everybody would get a piece of set was overblown. Over on my and my father's side, no, there just wasn't enough to go around. After all the pieces were done Conan came out again and briefly sang an ear-shattering song about the end, and thanked everybody for coming out and being such a great audience, and then left us in the hands of the pages.
And the real mark of the end of the show came: moments before taping started a guy comes out and pulls down a ladder from the light fixtures and climbs up into it. He pulls the ladder up after him and for the rest of the show the people in the front row under that spot try to enjoy the performance while hoping that the ladder is very secure because if it slid down it would probably kill them. Maybe it's arranged to only break their legs but it's still an unsettling thought. At the end of taping, the ladder slid back down at a responsible pace and the guy shimmied back down. What he does up there all that time I don't know, but it seems to be important or why strand him in the rafters like that?
Trivia: John Walker, inventor of the friction match, recorded about 200 sales of tins of matches from 1827 through 1829, their first two years on the market. Source: The 13th Element: The Sordid Tale of Murder, Fire, and Phosphorus, John Emsley.
Currently Reading: The Anti-Theatrical Prejudice, Jonas Barish.