As the pandemic lingers on, war rages in Europe and celebrities slap each other on national television, it doesn’t feel like there’s much we can depend on. Except for Paul Rudd never aging — and continuing to torment Conan O’Brien.
The “Ant-Man” star went on Earwolf’s “Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend” podcast Sunday and deployed a long-running prank that managed — as always — to evoke chuckles from people who have long been in on the joke.
Basically, Rudd tricked O’Brien into playing a clip from the 1988 “ET” ripoff “Mac and Me,” a notoriously stinky movie whose place in pop culture Rudd is almost single-handedly keeping alive these days.
Rudd has been bringing the cheesy clip from “Mac and Me” ― a film about a young wheelchair user who forms a touching friendship with an alien that is definitely not based on any creatures from an earlier, more popular movie ― to O’Brien’s various shows for almost 20 years. It started in 2004, when Rudd showed the clip while appearing on “Late Night with Conan O’Brien” to discuss the upcoming “Friends” finale, per Newsweek. Rudd offered to play a brief excerpt from the very last “Friends.” Of course, that was not what he played.
“There’s a lot of surprises in the last episode,” Rudd deadpanned after the clip was over. “It was pretty emotional.”
Since then, it’s become a running gag, with Rudd periodically springing the video on O’Brien after offering to play a clip from whatever project he’s lately appeared in.
This time, Rudd expertly set up the prank, talking passionately and in detail about a new project of his — an Audible series co-starring Adam Scott, Ken Marino and Celia Weston. After about 20 minutes of this, Rudd asked if O’Brien wanted him “to play a little bit of it?”
“Safe!” O’Brien said, taking the bait.
The guys had a computer screen in the room with them, and when O’Brien’s producer rolled the “Mac and Me” clip, he realized he’d once again been duped.
“Oh, for Christ’s sake!” he groaned.
“Why? Why! … You can’t do that on a podcast! That’s why I didn’t see it coming!” O’Brien sputtered as the clip continued. “It’s a visual joke!”
Actually, it turns out you can do that on a podcast ― because Rudd did. And, well, YouTube exists, and thankfully their interview was recorded (above).
O’Brien later admitted that he didn’t see the prank coming at all.
“You just heard the ‘Mac and Me’ clip totally take me by surprise, honestly,” he told listeners. “I wear on my life.”
Best part? Rudd said he completely made up the Audible series, which he’d spoken about for a good portion of the interview.
“None of that was true,” Rudd said mischievously.
“The joke continues,” O’Brien muttered.