Watch: Conan O’Brien Solicits George Takei To Cover Up Vulcan Salute Fail

Purported Star Trek fan Conan O’Brien has been called out for how he does the Vulcan salute by a viewer and detail-oriented fan. In a segment from Conan last night, O’Brien brought in George Takei to help cover up his salute fail. Watch it below


Conan’s Vulcan Fail

After seeing Conan O’Brien do the Vulcan salute incorrectly, a Star Trek fan took the logical step of creating a PowerPoint presentation to point out the error. Conan looked to Trek vet George Takei to help save him. Watch the video (via TBS).

Thanks to Susannah

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Mike in Iowa
August 16, 2011 6:14 pm

That’s actually the evil George Takei from the mirror universe, so he’s right and also wrong.

Conan, on the other hand, is still not funny in either universe.

August 16, 2011 6:16 pm

LOL! So I’ve been doing it all wrong for all these years. OH MY!

trekker 5
August 16, 2011 6:20 pm

Oh My God!! But it did make me laugh! Whatever Takei wants to say,thats fine;mean while,I’ll be giving the salute the way I always have,just like Spock!! :) Live Long And Prosper! \\//

August 16, 2011 6:37 pm

I’m half sure that Conan committed another fail in pronouncing George’s last name; hasn’t he said that “Ta-KAY” means “cheap” in Japanese and he’s definitely not cheap? (Source: The Howard Stern Show)

Again, I may have it backwards but I think “Ta-KYE” is correct.

August 16, 2011 6:40 pm

Funnily enough, Mike in Iowa’s reference to Mirror Universe George Takei is lame across the entire multiverse.

August 16, 2011 6:41 pm

Team Coco 4-ev-ah. From Hell’s heart I stab at thee, Leno!

Brett Campbell
August 16, 2011 6:54 pm

4 – Other way around. The word for cheap in Japanese is pronounced “Tuh-KYE.” I taught English in Japan twenty years ago. Also, on the Comedy Central Roast of Shatner, George joked that his last name rhymes with “toupee.”

Trek Quiz: Which legendary science-fiction author penned the phrase “Live long and prosper”?

John Trowbridge
August 16, 2011 6:57 pm

For what it’s worth, I think Al Chan is correct in suggesting that the thumb should be extended.

Capt. of the U.S.S. Anduril
August 16, 2011 7:03 pm

Wow….either Conan’s very tall, or George is shorter than I thought. lol

August 16, 2011 7:10 pm

TAKAI (pronounced TAH-KYE) means “high” or “expensive” in Japanese, not “cheap.” (Cheap is YASUI, pronounced YAH-SOOEY)

TAKEI (pronounced TAH-KAY) is correct. William Shatner has pronounced it wrong for decades, but Conan got it right.

August 16, 2011 7:10 pm

@7 That would be Theodore Sturgeon

Brett Campbell
August 16, 2011 7:15 pm

9 – Max – You are right. I apologize. You forget a lot in twenty years.

Brett Campbell
August 16, 2011 7:15 pm

I mean I forgot a lot in 20 years!

August 16, 2011 7:24 pm

As I understand, Leonard Nimoy got this hand gesture from Rabbis who were forming a prayer called the Priestly Blessing performed by Jewish Kohanim with both hands. Both hands were put together (thumb to thumb) symbolizing the Hebrew letter called the “Shin”. Pictures of this do show the thumb is not extended. However, I am sure Mr. Nimoy took creative license to make it more of a salute.

Gabriel Bell
August 16, 2011 7:53 pm

8. Please tell me you are joking.

August 16, 2011 7:57 pm

@ 7

Theodore Sturgeon came up with the phrase “Live long and prosper” for the classic second season episode he wrote, “Amok Time.” Sturgeon also wrote the classic first season episode, “Shore Leave.” I love Yeoman Barrows! (Emily Banks) Do I get any quatloos for that answer?

Lucky Dr. McCoy with Yeoman Barrows.

August 16, 2011 8:25 pm

Oh, great. More fighting among Trekkers. First, you got your Berman haters versus the Berman defenders. Now, thumb extended, thumb not extended. @ 8 , 13. Now we’ve got Conan vs. Leno. @ 1, 6. Yeah, somebody is going to get all hot and bothered that Letterman is not mentioned.

Well Star Trek fans, you forgot the greatest Trekker of all the late night show hosts. My man Stephen Colbert. Yes, he counts. One, new shows are at 11:30. Two, remember his interview with J.J. Abrams with Colbert dressed as a Romulan? Link. And what about his interview with physicist Briane Greene where he cites “Mirror, Mirror.”


1. Trekmovie story with Colbert videos, one with Colbert as a Romulan

2. Colbert interviews Brian Greene about parallel universes, with Mirror, Mirror reference

I am not Herbert
August 16, 2011 8:39 pm

egg…cellent… ;-)

August 16, 2011 8:44 pm

Leave it to Takei to sell you for some cheap joke which totally confuses the Vulcan salute. And, as usual, here wasn’t funny. It is really rather painful to watch this guy try to be funny.

Ian K
August 16, 2011 9:01 pm

Lol that was odd, but funny, although it got very terrifying at the end when he said Kathy Griffin was there….

Peter N
August 16, 2011 9:10 pm

Those photoshopped Nimoy images were hilarious! At least I think they were photoshopped – no one stirs spaghetti sauce with an extended thumb, do they? That would be illogical (for consistency’s sake). Let’s see if Nimoy weighs in on this debate….

August 16, 2011 11:18 pm

Not extending your thumb when you do the Vulcan salute has always been a real pet peeve of mine. It’s right up there with people who say Star TRACK instead of Star TREK.

August 16, 2011 11:49 pm

12. Andrew. I also understand the Vulcan salute came from half of the Jewish Priestly blessing sign, which is done with BOTH hands. In that sign (yes, I’m Jewish) the two thumbs are not up against the center fingers, but are extended, as shown by a real Jewish priest, Leonard Nimoy. Here is an instruction on how to do it: . It involves dividing the hand into three parts, which George Takai clearly has not done. I do see pictures of it done the other way, but not in any reliable JEWISH source. Interestingly, some of the instructions by Jewish institutions on how to do the priestly blessing hand signal show Mr. Nimoy giving the Vulcan salute.

Jim Nightshade
August 17, 2011 12:18 am

Very interesting, but stupid (in the grand scheme of things)—so outta curiousity in trek 09 did both spocks do the salute correctly?

August 17, 2011 12:28 am

@20. Everyone knows that Peter the Great invented the Vulcan salute.

— Pavel Chekov

August 17, 2011 2:17 am

Interestingly, another famous actor did the salute incorrectly–and in a film where her character was supposed to be a Trek fan. The actor? Zoe Saldana in “The Terminal.”

August 17, 2011 2:53 am

Oh, God, this is what it’s come to? This is what we are going to spend the next 24 months doing?

Keachick (rose pinenut)
August 17, 2011 3:46 am

From reading the instructions from the Jewish rabbi link, it appears that Spock’s Vulcan salute is how you are meant to do the sign, with the thumb extended. Anyway, why did they not get Leonard Nimoy come on to explain the correct way of making the vulcan hand salute? What would George Takei know about it? I have never given it much thought.

August 17, 2011 4:05 am

@ 23

I remember seeing that scene and thought the hand sign was wrong! LOL!

I'm Dead Jim
August 17, 2011 4:39 am

I think Takei usually does it with thumb extended. This was obviously just a joke, the funniest part of which were the images of Leonard Nimoy doing daily chores with his thumb extended, especially signing for the UPS guy.

August 17, 2011 4:40 am

Important lesson here. Whenever you’re in the wrong, and have been caught out, just find a bigger fish to support you…

Takei doing that salute everywhere he goes, has always bugged me a little.

I means he’s neither Jewish or from the planet Vulcan. LOL!

August 17, 2011 5:04 am

He just did it wrong again, at the very end of the clip…His fingers werent together. BWAAHAHAHAHA, I have defeated you Conan, lol.

Robert H.
August 17, 2011 5:11 am

Anyone who says Conan O’Brien is not funny, I agree with.

You know I would like JJ Abrams to use the failed Vulcan salute in Star Trek 12 to be the Vulcan equivalent to flipping the bird. Adding a detail to Vulcan society and showing that not everyone has the same gestures.

Commodore Mike of the Terran Empire
August 17, 2011 5:35 am

#1. That was indeed takei from the Terran Empire. Don’t know how Conan got him to this universe. But. Nimoy is right. In fact Nimoy is always right. Rumer has it that Nimoy may make an apperence on conan very soon.

Commodore Mike of the Terran Empire
August 17, 2011 5:37 am

Also to clarify in case anyone wanted to know.. Conan O’briien will not be in the Movie. Conan the Barbarien.

Toothless Grishnar Cat
August 17, 2011 5:53 am

“Fail” is a verb, as in “to fail” (infinitive). “Failure” is a noun. Anthony, please, don’t give in to popular culture’s bastardizations of the English language!

August 17, 2011 6:14 am

Is Conan funny? Sometimes.
Is Letterman funny? Not anymore.
Is Leno funny? Never.

I miss Johnny.

trekker 5
August 17, 2011 7:27 am

#34. Me too Horatio,me too!!

Commodore Mike of the Terran Empire
August 17, 2011 8:07 am

There will never be another Johnny Carson. He was the best there is. The best there was and the best there ever will be.

August 17, 2011 8:25 am

I think some people are not getting the joke here. Yes the Vulcan saulte came from Nimoy inspired by Jewish tradition and has the thumb extended. The joke is Conan got Takei to cover for him, he knows he got it wrong. It is a gag. A joke, a jest using obfuscation.

August 17, 2011 8:46 am

40 – yeah I knew that Anthony. I was just pining away for Carson. I guess i’m old.

Jorg Sacul
August 17, 2011 9:33 am

How freakin’ tall is Conan? (or how SHORT is Takei??)

Frank Jay Gruber
August 17, 2011 9:45 am

40: Any use of the word “obfuscation” deserves to be applauded. Nicely done, Anthony!

August 17, 2011 10:41 am

@17 Who’s Letterman?

Thomas Jensen
August 17, 2011 10:46 am

I’m not about letting George Takei tell me where to put my thumb.

August 17, 2011 11:18 am

Conan is 6 ft 4. He’s huuuuuge!

Khan was Framed!
August 17, 2011 2:04 pm

Go Commander Coco!!

The man is awesome.

Takei is hilarious, too-

Great bit.

Ens Mike of the Terran Empire
August 17, 2011 2:35 pm

Oh ok Anthony. I get it!!!. Ah. Oh not really. Lol

Remington Steele
August 17, 2011 3:09 pm

#40 Nail on the head there Anthony…

People are going completely overboard with this…

August 17, 2011 3:25 pm

Cute! And epic CYA from Conan!