Lester Cohen/WireImage
Nate Jones
April 13, 2014 10:40 PM

Conan O’Brien has, by our count, delivered hundreds of thousands of monologues over the course of his career, so Sunday night’s opening routine at the MTV Movie Awards was old hat for him. Still, though, we couldn’t help but grin at O’Brien’s obvious delight to be performing in front of an audience a couple times larger than his usual late-night crowd.

The highlights of Conan’s monologue, below:

The celebrity cameo quest

The late-night legend kicked off his hosting gig with a taped bit centered on his quest to find 50 celebrities to guest star in his monologue – the kind of self-conscious silliness Conan does so well on his own show. He made good progress, getting assists from comedy pals like Ed Helms and Aziz Ansari as well as a lengthy appearance by Taylor Swift, who fended off Conan’s attempts at friendship with the iciest of fake smiles. Unfortunately, Conan could only wrangle up 49 celebrities, but in the end he learned the most important lesson of all: He, too, was a celebrity, bringing the magic number up to 50.

Slamming the set design

Conan made his triumphant entrance Sunday night on a fiery stage that was slightly more hellish than the one on his normal show, and he couldn’t help but make fun of it. “Welcome to the Satanic Cult Awards, ladies and gentleman!” he joked. “All hail the Dark Lord!”

Grumpy grumbles

After ruling the red carpet, Grumpy Cat took a place of honor in the front row, where she promptly fell asleep. Conan saw yet another opportunity to indulge in some of his trademark self-deprecation: “I’ve been in show business for 20 years, this is the first time I’ve performed for a cat.”

Vine highlights

Who’s got the attention span to sit through a three-hour movie? Not Conan. To help out MTV’s ADD audience, the host introduced a series of six-second summaries of the nominated films. Conan’s a better film critic than he knew – it was meant as a bit, but these brief Vine summaries actually do a pretty great job of reflecting the style of their respective films!

The big finish

Though he’s been in front of the camera for decades, Conan still likes to joke that he’s more of a writer than performer. But as anyone who caught his live concert tour a few years back knows, the man’s got some pipes. O’Brien assured fans he wouldn’t try to close his monologue with a show-stopping musical number – a point he cared about so strongly he could only deliver one way: In a showstopping musical number, with Adam Devine and a gospel choir. Watch the performance and the rest of the monologue below:

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