Over the past few months, the United States has slowly been peeling back the rigid Kennedy-era embargo placed on Cuba, allowing citizens to freely travel and eventually trade with those on Fidel Castro’s turf. On Wednesday night’s Conan, Conan O’Brien became the first late-night host to tape a show from the island nation in over 50 years. For the Conan in Cuba special, O’Brien eschewed celebrity interviews for a travelogue of the country combined with his unique and hilarious look at Cuba and its music-loving culture.
O’Brien’s visit to Cuba included stops at the country’s famed cigar factories, a walk along Havana’s El Malecón waterfront promenade and Spanish lessons. However, the highlight of the Havana trip came when O’Brien attempted to learn “the authentic Cuban salsa.” The host teamed up with the popular salsa band Moncada to learn the art and timing of “the clave” as well as how to sing from the nose.
Once O’Brien got his timing down, he and Moncada jammed out on a song featuring lyrics that stretch the limits of the host’s Spanish vocabulary, with the translated lyrics devolving from “What a way to love, what a way” to “I am Nutella, I am Nutella” and “Hamburger water.” Despite the ridiculous lyrics, O’Brien proclaimed of the energetic performance, “That’s a hit record!”
With the embargo ending, O’Brien also introduced the country to his patented String Dance while taking rumba lessons. Watch the whole episode at the Team Coco site.