Carson Daly bid a fond farewell to his longtime late-night talk show, “Last Call With Carson Daly” early Saturday morning. To mark the emotional moment, Daly included a heartfelt on-air tribute to his late mom and stepdad.
The TODAY anchor posted an image of the touching message on Instagram.
"Fitting that the very last frame of my 2,000th & final episode of Last Call be dedicated to these 2. I hope to God my kids care a fraction about me as I do them," he wrote.
The series finale brought back many bittersweet memories spanning the show's impressive 18-season run.
“I am proud as hell of ‘Last Call,’” Daly said to kick off Saturday's 30-minute special. “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.”
“Last Call” debuted during Grammys week back in 2002, with Alicia Keys as the first musical guest. Her brilliant presence and willingness to get candid about her life behind the scenes helped to set the tone for the late-night show, which Daly said he modeled after “Insomniac with Dave Atell.”
“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,” he said. “And like that, yes, ‘Last Call’ was born.”
That first week, the show featured a star-studded lineup that included the likes of Gwyneth Paltrow, Jon Stewart and Suge Knight (whom Daly called “one of the most controversial” interviews in the show's history). The guest list only grew from there, with celebrities lining up to chat with the former MTV VJ, dubbed the “nice guy.” Throughout "Last Call's" 2,000 episodes, Daly chatted it up with Dave Chappelle, Jay-Z, Tina Fey, Will Ferrell, Taylor Swift, Elton John, Sarah Silverman, Spike Lee, Tiffany Haddish, Childish Gambino, and Amy Schumer, among others.
He exchanged bad tattoo ideas with Angelina Jolie (Daly covered up a tattoo with ex-girlfriend Jennifer Love Hewitt’s name with what looks like a pocket knife with a crab claw sticking out of it), and got the notoriously enigmatic David Bowie to laugh on multiple occasions. He also spoke with the late Robin Williams, shared drinks and stories with Chris Pratt, and got loosey-goosey at a bar with Jordan Peele and Keegan-Michael Key.
The "Last Call" journey wasn't always easy, however. Daly gave props to his team for sticking it out even as the show’s budget was continually “slashed” and their studio space reduced and then eliminated altogether. “Lorne Michaels was nice enough to let us squat on Studio 8H, where SNL shoots,” he said. “Then we moved the show to Los Angeles, then eventually out of the studio.”
Despite the changes, Daly and the “Last Call” crew continued to churn out what would eventually be a whopping 2,000 episodes, prioritizing “diversity in (their) talent” and providing a platform for undiscovered acts and artists.
It’s important to note, Daly said, that some of today’s biggest singers actually got their TV debut through “Last Call,” including Halsey, Kendrick Lamar, and Walk the Moon. Ed Sheeran, who performed at the Hotel Cafe back in 2012, was also catapulted to success due in large part to Daley’s endorsement, and on Saturday, Daly played Sheeran’s entire performance of “The A Team” in full. “It’s just one example of what we do on the show, that’s take changes and give talented artists a platform to take off, and Ed certainly did,” he said.
Perhaps the biggest accomplishment that Daly will take away from the show, however, is meeting his wife, Siri, on set all those years ago. At the time, Siri (whose maiden name is Pinter) was a “young writer’s assistant.”
“We became friendly and what eventually started as meeting at the Starlight Lounge around the corner from the studio and shoot some pool and drink some beer (turned into) then (making) some babies, (getting) married … so it was wonderful,” Daly said on Friday. He and Siri got married in December 2015 and share three young children together — Jackson James, 10, Etta Jones, 6, and London Rose, 4.
NBC first announced the end of “Last Call” in February, explaining that Daly wanted to take more time to focus on his family.
"My 20s was about finding a good job,” he previously told TODAY. “My 30s was about taking on as many of them as I could. Now, in my 40s, I’m focused on quality over quantity. I want to do more with my TODAY family and continue hosting and producing ‘The Voice’ and explore new opportunities.”
YouTube star Lilly Singh will take over Daley’s time slot with “A Little Late With Lilly Singh” in September.