When the sexual assault allegations against Bill Cosby began emerging en masse in November 2014, Conan O'Brien ended up being the first mainstream late night host to lampoon the situation via his "Celebrity Survey" segment. As it turns out, though, he's been busting on Cosby since he was a 19-year-old college student at Harvard.
O'Brien stopped by the Howard Stern Show Wednesday to relay a bizarre tale about a prank he pulled on Cosby in the early 1980s that had the comedian thinking he had just won a Lifetime Achievement in Comedy award from the school's humor magazine, the Harvard Lampoon. A big fan of Cosby's at the time, O'Brien says he simply really wanted to meet the comedian and was willing to do so by any means necessary.
"I honestly wanted to meet him," he said. "I think it came from a good place."
That apparently means picking up Cosby, one of the biggest comedy stars in world, from the airport in a ratty old station wagon he borrowed from his parents. A fitting tribute, considering that Cosby arrived that day to Boston via a private plane at Logan Airport, all while wearing a tuxedo due to the "award" he was about to receive.
"He walks out, and I'm like, 'Mr. Cosby! Hey!'" O'Brien told Stern. "And he's looking past me for the stretch limo — and there's no stretch limo. So I opened the door and went, 'It's in here, c'mon!'"
With that, the pair began the 20-minute drive to Cambridge, with Cosby "crunched in the backseat of this really crappy car" that was apparently filled with trash.
"He leans back and picks up a Quarter Pounder with Cheese wrapper," O'Brien said. "It was in the back, and he holds it up, and kind of does a 'What's this…?' And I said 'Oh, that's just trash; you can throw that in the back, Mr. Cosby.'"
Eventually, they arrived back at Harvard to present Cosby with the "award," which actually turned out to be a "slightly altered" bowling trophy. Judging from O'Brien's story, though, Cosby didn't miss a beat.
"He comes out, and that's when I saw what a master he is," he said. "I saw this guy not really do material, he just went out. But in that Bill Cosby way, he's got the rhythm."
As to whether or not Cosby still has that trophy, O'Brien remains optimistic.
"I think he cherishes it to this day," he said. "Someone recently found pictures of me looking like a 19-year-old woman. He's holding the bowling trophy and smiling and it's night."
True to form, the Internet has since dug up that photo, proving once and for all that, yes, this really did happen. And Cosby couldn't look more thrilled: