For those who stayed up Thursday night for Conan O'Brien's next to last "Tonight Show" hoping for something out of the ordinary, guest Robin Williams did not disappoint.

The master of manic performance comedy delivered in full brogue what O'Brien later in the show would describe as an "Irish ditty." The song featured an eight word refrain -- two of which I can't publish here, and one of which NBC bleeped repeatedly as Williams sang it loud and proud, and O'Brien jumped on his desk and then down on the floor to dance along with Williams.


The refrain: "(Expletive) the (expletives) that can't take a joke." The "expletives," whom the song said should be expletived, were clearly the NBC executives who reached a $45 million agreement with O'Brien Thursday to make him leave the network after Friday night's show. The ballad was raw and liberating, and spoke straight to the anger many of O'Brien's fan are voicing online at the way NBC has given "The Tonight Show" back to Jay Leno leaving O'Brien to try to find another TV home.

Here is part of Williams' performance (Conan ballad not included):

The penultimate night in what has been a surreal two weeks in the home stretch of "The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien" had quite a few good moments.

There were surprise appearances by Ben Stiller and Pee Wee Herman, and a big musical number by Barry Manilow. Both Stiller and Herman, of course, mocked NBC.

There was also a second night of O'Brien doing a comic bit in which he and his production team stage a spot that he describes as "crazy expensive" in an effort to cost NBC more money. Thursday, a horse described as a Kentucky Derby winner appeared onstage in what O'Brien described as mink SNUGGIE watching restricted NFL Super Bowl footage on a TV screen. Total cost of the spot, according to a snickering O'Brien: $4.8 million.

I have to say this, and I know I am messing with intense pro-Conan emotions on the eve of his last show, but I wish O'Brien's regular show had embraced more of the edge, energy and comic danger on display Wednesday and Thursday.

I think in some ways, in the wake of his severance agreement with NBC, O'Brien started out Thursday being a little more careful about NBC. Instead of the anger and perhaps even bitterness that could be felt Wednesday, the 46-year-old host emphasized that he wanted to "make the best" of the situation and hoped the people on the show and his audience would have "fun" the last two nights.

But if anyone thought it was going to be an evening of artificial nice-nice, Robin Williams took care of that with his "(Expletive) the (Expletives)" ballad. And good for him.

Williams' performance was a wonderful reminder of how liberating and cathartic great and transgressive comedy can be. Too bad there is not more of it on latenight TV elsewhere these days. Jay Leno is the very opposite of such high-wire creativity, and sad to say, he is the future of "The Tonight Show" on NBC.

I'll be back Friday, I guarantee you that for Will Ferrell, Neil Young and Tom Hanks. Great lineup, but I wonder can they top Robin Williams and the angry refrain of his ballad for Conan O'Brien.