It’s not too often that an all Mexican crew gets to run an entire late night show that airs on United States basic cable. But such was the plan for Conan O’Brien’s Conán: Made In México episode and best believe the Mexico City team took advantage of the opportunity from the opening scene. The kick-off was a skit in which Mexican border agents grilled the host about his intentions south of the border, eventually opening his suitcase to reveal a hidden cache of sunscreen and Taco Bell (the horror!)
“You can’t lump all American into one group! That’s not fair, that’s stereotyping,” protested O’Brien. The gag is what many of us were tuning in for — to see the United States’ most popular late-night host and his Mexican accomplices eviscerate the political culture that makes filming a show in our closest neighbor to the south a political act.
“I’m more than happy to be the gringo piñata,” Conan told the New York Times before the show aired. O’Brien delivered, offering himself up as the tall, gangly, monolingual-but-trying straight man to a country that is dying to laugh at the ridiculously bad situation it’s found itself in, courtesy of Trump and his team of almost cartoonish villains.
Here are some of the other feel-good moments Conan’s team brought us in the name of cross-border catharsis.
Conan Delivered His Opening Riffs In Spanish
This is a giveaway, but if you’re looking to make friends in the Mexican capital, you could do much worse than bring up everyone’s common enemy: rush hour. Conan did so, and in a semi-convincing accent, no less. It took him three and a half hours to fly from Los Angeles to Mexico City, he told the studio audience — and “dos días” to get from the airport to his hotel. Relatable!
His Wall Joke Got Shut Down On Avenida Cinco De Mayo
From grandmothers to organ grinders, Mexicans showed that (unlike their president) they’ll tell Trump the first chance they get that they have no intention for paying for the $21.6 billion wall that the US president has crowed about in campaign rallies. One man was even so helpful as to offer his middle finger as an offering to the faux donation box that Conan was wielding around the Centro Histórico pedestrian thoroughfare.
He Made a Cameo On a Novela
Maybe Mi Adorable Maldición wasn’t exactly hurting for a confused cheese merchant scene, but the gesture is not lost on us — Conan knows damn well that the heart of Mexico beats for its daily stories, and this nonsensical appearance on the show about the maybe-cursed beauty Aurora Sánchez was a nice dip into the country’s popular culture. Plus, lead actress Renata Notni was able to deal with the show’s awful running joke about Conan’s attraction to Mexican women with just a few coy looks, and for that we give thanks.
Diego Luna Asserted Mexican Womens’ Good Taste In Hair
Star Wars: Rogue One star and veteran Conan guest Diego Luna did not pull any punches about Conan’s game in Mexico. “You’re the size of two Mexicans put together … you don’t have to add a meter of hair,” said the actor-director, who then shared with the audience a story about the importance of having an actor with a Mexican accent play the lead in the epic space series. Conan’s interview with Luna also provided the most straightforward explanation of why the show had come to Mexico in the first place. “We need that medicine,” Luna commented, a nod to the hurt and fear that’s being felt right now on both sides of the border.
Conan Became El Gallo Loco
Not only did Conan deliver a pitch perfect performance as a chicken-themed lucha libre character, he also worked Andy Richter into the script as El Bebe Malo. “Who would hit a baby?” Conan asked, clearly underestimating the drive to win possessed by famed gay Northern Mexico wrestler Cassandro, who promptly decked his loyal sidekick.
Vincente Fox Did His Best Vincente Fox
One could argue that the ex-president of Coca Cola in Mexico and the Caribbean has a certain bias when it comes to keeping trade tariffs low between the US and Mexico, but never mind all that because Fox has emerged as the world’s most satisfyingly belligerent politician when it comes to calling Donald on his mess.
Shall we count the ways the former president of Mexico delighted us on this episode? He presented Conan with a (tiny) custom “No Fucking Wall” boot, referred to the US and Mexico as “roommates,” and in reference to Mexico’s intention to go wholeheartedly into talks with the White House, brought out an IRL example of “the whole enchilada.” Plus, when he delivered his final, wonderfully vulgar salute to Trump, we had to notice that the man has huge hands. Well played Señor Presidente, well played.
They Brought Out Gio dos Santos
A remote of Conan’s gangly self playing (and cheating at) soccer in a Mexico City park would have been entertaining enough even if they hadn’t brought out the beloved Mexican LA Galaxy forward, but why go halfway? Giovani’s appearance on the show brought out the studio audience’s loudest screams of the night, and he even elicited a promise from Conan that the host would wear the Mexico national team jersey that Giovani presented him with … when the team plays the United States. We’ll be watching, Conan!
Pulpo En Su Tinto Was Prepared On Set
As Mexico City chef Enrique Olivera told us in his episode of Netflix’s Chef’s Table, pulpo en su tinto is a celebratory dish in Mexico, an acknowledgment of good times. And how else can we qualify this US cable TV send up of gringo culture as seen by Mexico? At any rate, the episode’s viewers got a brief vision of Conan learning to cook the dish with celebrity chef Aquiles Chavez, a judge on Top Chef México.
The Awkward Padrino Speech
Let’s hope that Marisol is Team Coco, because the Mexico City teen was definitely upstaged by her honorary redhead padrino at her own quinceañeara. Props to Conan, however, for delivering the slightly less than inspirational dedication in that same heartfelt — if not exactly flowing — Spanish.