I have what might be called an unnatural love of David Letterman. When I started watching Dave’s show in 1985 I thought it was a revelation of comedy. I couldn’t believe what I was watching. I was just starting High School and Letterman’s brand of humor and antics were right up my alley. It was that perfect mix of self-deprecating and razor wit smart ass that appealed to my awkward teen self. I’ve watched the show religiously ever since, only missing a handful of episodes over the course of 30 years. I watched the NBC show, I watched the CBS show, I even watched Cabin Boy just for his cameo. I picked up any magazine or newspaper with any article about Dave or his show, and I taped any appearance of him showing up on other shows. I soaked up all things Letterman. I own all of the Late Night/Late Show books including two books of Top 10 lists and the Fun Facts books… But all of that isn’t too extreme. Read on my friends!
For long stretch while doing the original Late Show on NBC Dave wore wrestling shoes on the show. They are a very specific kind of shoe that don’t offer a lot of arch support. I have never wrestled a day in my life, but I bought and wore those shoes for almost 4 years in the 80s.
I know the first and last names of everyone in the CBS Orchestra/World’s Most Dangerous Band. I know the first and last names of most of Dave’s production crew/staff.
I own 3 Worldwide Pants crew jackets as well as a shirt and hat.
I own BOTH of Paul Shaffer’s CDs.
In the 90s there was a time where my windows/AOL mail alert sounds was Paul Neumann saying “Where the Hell are the singing cats?”
I go to NYC every February for Toy Fair and every year I eat at the Hello Deli.
And if all of that wasn’t enough in high school… I carried a photo of Dave in my wallet like a family photo. I did it because I thought it was something goofy enough that Dave would have done.
I’ve been an audience member at the show 4 times.
So I’m not like a poor woman that kept breaking into his houses saying she was his wife… but is has crossed my mind that my daughter is the same age as his son and that one day they could be married and then we’d all hang out together. J
Dave has been my constant… my muse… my inspiration for 30 year… and tonight it ends. Mr. Letterman is retiring today and I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t affecting me. Today is the last show. Tomorrow there will be no new Late Show with David Letterman. All good things must come to an end…
The show and Dave himself has evolved over the years, growing up a bit just like the rest of us. In the early days Dave never watched a movie or read a book that the guest was there plugging. After his emergency quadruple bypass surgery there was a big shift. Dave didn’t take anything for granted, his show, his guests or his time on earth. He became a much more voracious reader and he actually WANTED to talk to people, especially smart people. Before he was just talking to people to find his next joke. Now he wanted to interact, to learn and experience different viewpoints.
There was also a shift in the guest bookings. You still had your TV and movie stars as the first guests, as well as bands and comedians to close out the show, but in between all that, the middle guests, you started seeing people trying to make a difference in the world: the head of the world hunger organization, soldiers, heroes… they now had a platform and a host with a curious mind and I think it made it even a better show.
This last month of shows has been bittersweet as guests and friends come by to say their goodbyes. There have been some really touching moments on the show and on other people’s shows giving Dave kudos and shout-outs. I thought it only fitting that I do my own tribute to the entertainer that has meant so much to me. I’m sure my list of favorites will be different than most folks, but these are some of things that really stuck in my brain over the past 30 years. There is only one format that is fitting for this sort of thing…
Thanks to the glory of the internet I was able to find clips for all of these favorites. You can either watch them now or save them up and watch them on Thursday to help chase your no-Dave blues away.
Here are my Top 10 Favorite David Letterman Moments
- 5 story tower/hydraulic press – This was mostly a segment from the Late Night days. It’s just like it sounds. A few times a year he would have his stage hands lug a bunch of weird stuff to the top pf a 5 story tower so he could throw things off the roof and film them in slow motion. He would also crush things in an 80 ton hydraulic press.
- Anniversary Specials – This was another product of Late Night on NBC. Every year Dave and the staff would put together a clip show/variety show to celebrate the year. It always made for a great “best of…” and I ALWAYS set my VCR for them. Here are a selection of some of them:
- Small Town News/Dumb Ads – LONG before Leno was doing “Headlines” Dave was doing Small Town News and Dumb Ads. I always thought these were more consistently funny than Stupid Human Tricks. Fairly self-explanatory, but just in case here are some examples.
- Pedestrian theme songs and Moe’s jingle – For my money Paul never got to write enough funny original songs on the show. I always loved his songs and videos in the Prime Time Film Festivals (more on that later) but sometimes he got to do them in the regular episodes as well. I would watch them over and over again on VHS and memorize the songs and they have stuck in my head all of these years. I think these two are some of my favorites –
- The NBC Primetime Film Festivals/Dress Cool – Another 80’s classic from the NBC days. The last 2 years before Dave moved to CBS he did a couple of prime time film festivals. He would get a group of celebrities and NBC gave them $40k to make funny, short films that they would cut together into an “event” episode in prime time. Thanks to the glory of the internet below is a full episode of the 2nd installment.
In addition to the celebrities, Paul and the band would do an original song and music video for the show. The very first one was “Dress Cool” and all of these years later it’s STILL hard to beat! I shouldn’t know the words to this song 30 years later, but I do. I always wished these would have shown up on one of Paul’s albums, but they never did.
- Any Jack Hannah appearance! – NOTHING put a smile on my face and made me laugh so hard that tears rolled down my cheeks quite like an appearance by “Jungle” Jack Hannah, the director emeritus of the Columbus Zoo. The animals, Dave and Jack’s chemistry and the unpredictability off it all just make it a joy to watch. It can always cheer me up when I need it. There a dozens of clips available for this one. Do yourself a favor and check some more of them out. Pure gold.
His last appearance 2 weeks ago was very sweet
- Rupert Jee bothering people – They only did this bit a couple of times, but it made me pass out from laughing so hard both times they tried it. This is some of the best hidden camera gags in Dave’s 33 year history. Unfortunately while filming a third instalment someone pulled a knife on Rupert and the bit went away… but it lives on on YouTube.
- The Christmas Show: The Lone Ranger Story and Darleen Love singing ‘It’s Christmas Baby Please Come Home’ – For the past 10+ years Dave has done the same show on his last week before the Christmas break. Jay Thomas comes out and tells his amazing Lone Ranger story, they do the Late Show Quarterback challenge where they try to knock the giant meatball off of the Christmas tree with a football and then Darleen Love just blows the roof off the joint singing my all-time favorite Christmas song ‘It’s Christmas Baby, Please Come Home.” Paul and the band do an amazing arrangement every year. If you can hear this and not be moved then your heart is made of stone. This past December was her final time to perform the song and she did not disappoint…
- The first post 9/11 show – This was a very grounded, very emotional Dave. It’s a man that cares for the city and its people. For those of us that remember this horrific event you will also remember the fear, confusion and overwhelming sadness as well as the feeling that the world would never be the same again. Dave was the first comedy show to go back on the air after the tragedy and he stumbled through all of our feelings and made it ok for us to laugh again.
And my number one Late Show with David Letterman moment……
1.The Strong Guy, the Fat Guy the Genius – this Paul Schaffer theme song is an ear worm. Hear it once and you will be humming it for the next 3 weeks. On top of that it’s an inspired, hilarious bit. “Three rays of hope in a world that’s gone insane…” Indeed.
Thanks for all of the laughs and all of poignant moments these past 30 years Mr. Letterman. Whatever you choose to do next – I’ll be watching.
“There’s no off position for the genius switch” – David Letterman
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