Paul Rudd has been showing the same clip from the movie Mac & Me every time he comes onto Conan O’Brien’s various talk shows to promote a project for twenty years now. It’s just a thing that he does, and at this point, it’s not only something that fans expect every time he’s on but something that fans demand. It made the transition from funny to WTF to why? to absurd a long time ago, and now it’s just funny every time.
But neither Rudd nor Conan have ever talked about the bit being a bit on the show. They play it straight every time, so on this week’s Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend podcast, it was nice to hear Rudd and O’Brien talk about the origins of the long-running gag, and the history of it over the last two decades.
Rudd tells Conan that the bit originated because he thought the idea of going on a talk show to “sell his wares” always felt kind of insincere. “It’s all just silly. This entire business is silly,” Rudd says. He then explains how delightfully dumb Mac and Me is, that it’s an E.T. ripoff that was literally funded by McDonald’s, “which is why it’s called Mac. There’s a whole sequence that takes place in a McDonald’s. There’s a girl that wears a McDonald’s uniform throughout the whole movie.”
“It was the greatest movie I’ve ever seen,” Rudd jokes. He does say, however, that he toyed with using a different scene from a different movie, Baby Geniuses. “Baby Geniuses is another one of those movies that you watch and you think, ‘Who was this made for?’ Essentially all babies know all the secrets of the universe and can talk to each other before they turn two and as they learn to talk it all goes away.”
Unfortunately, I cannot find the scene that Rudd describes in which a baby fights a couple of thugs, but I did learn that not only was there a sequel but apparently, 12 direct-to-video Baby Geniuses sequels.
“What’s amazing about the [Mac and Me bit],” Conan says, “is that it’s this performance art joke takes place over two decades and it means nothing. That’s also what I love. There’s no point behind it. It’s beautiful.”
“This is the first time we’ve ever even addressed it,” Rudd says.
There was one time, however, when it ruffled some feathers. When Rudd did This is 40 for Judd Apatow, “and Apatow was like, ‘Just don’t do the Mac and Me thing. Do the real clip. Because he just wanted you to promote the movie,” Conan says. “And you didn’t.”
“I didn’t,” Rudd says, “and there was also another time in which he came and stopped it. It was actually the one time that I think I showed a real clip on your show, where Judd was like, ‘Stop fucking around and show the real clip. We have a movie to promote.’”
“But to be fair, I did more movies with Judd and he’s like, whatever.”
“[Judd’s] a good man,” Conan jokes. “He has a sense of humor. He relented. He understood there was a power behind Mac and Me that even he, with all his power, couldn’t stop. “
“Like you, I enjoy it because it’s so dumb,” Rudd continues. “And it means nothing, and, for lack of a better word, it has legs.”
Cue the groans.
Header Image Source: TBS