Ok Paul, open the thing.
Here it is, folks. Tonight’s top ten list:
The Top Ten Ways I’ll Get Over the Loss of the Late Show with David Letterman
Now I don’t know if any of you know this, but my favourite late-night talk show host, David Letterman, is retiring this week. Maybe you heard something about it in the news, then again, maybe you didn’t. I don’t know what you know. I’m not here to pretend to know what you know. I’m just here to read the cards. But what we have for you tonight is something very special. These are the top ten ways I plan to get over the loss of the Late Show with David Letterman. I might be able to do all ten things in one day. Or, it might take me ten days – one thing per day. Hell, it might even take me ten years. Am I right, Paul? So here it is for you tonight, the top ten ways I’ll get over the loss of the Late Show with David Letterman.
Paul, did we open the thing?
Ok, here we go, number ten…
10. Write a sappy, self-indulgent blog post
8. Get a pet cat and name it Purry Lettercat
7. Get a pet dog and name it Woofy Letterdog
6. Pack up my things and move to Missouri*
*This is both a play on the word “misery” and a shout out to the audience member who told me he’s from Missouri during my audience warm up before the show. The camera pans to him and he waves.
5. Channel my emotions and become the next William Hung
4. More pudding
3. Toilet paper Regis’ house
2. Stop prompting Paul, my imaginary band leader, to play me in and out as I get on and off the couch
Aaaaaaaaaaand the number one way I’ll get over the loss of the Late Show with David Letterman IS…
1. Deflate some balls (WHAT?!)*
Thunderous applause and laughter. The band plays. I throw to commercial.
*This was written in May 2015 and Tom Brady’s deflate-gate is topical.
Last week, as I watched Wednesday night’s Late Show and saw David Letterman kiss Julia Roberts for the last time, I started to cry. And I’m not proud to admit this, but it wasn’t the first time I’ve shed a tear since Dave announced his retirement. Over the past few months, little moments and tributes in certain episodes have set me off. And the past two weeks have been particularly stinging. John Mayer singing American Pie in its entirety. Ray Romano’s passionate display of gratitude. Jungle Jack Hanna tearing up during his tribute video. I mean, come on!
It might be worth exploring why I have such an emotional attachment to a man I’ve never met. But hey, come to think of it, over the last ten years this man has spent more time alone with me in my living room than any other man. Or person for that matter. Huh. We can explore that later. If anything, this post might prove useful as research to give my shrink a leg up later down the road.
This is all from my perspective. I’m not doing any research or looking up dates of certain milestones or fact-checking. I’d probably just be plagiarizing if I pretended to educate anyone on his rise to fame and impact on comedy. There are plenty of great articles out there like this and this. These are just my personal memories and impressions.
I started watching the Late Show regularly about ten years ago, when I was in university and no longer had a bedtime. I think I chose to watch it over other late-night talk shows because as a kid, I remember my dad watching it, and with that came a sense of familiarity. Dave also weirdly happens to physically remind me of my dad a bit – the smile, the hair line, the glasses – so forget the shrink, even I can see how psychologically I’ve formed a twisted sense of comfort towards the guy.
I’ve always had these weird ideas to connect me to the show. For years I’ve been saying that I plan for my future honeymoon to take place in New York City for the sole reason of attending a taping of the Late Show. This is so when Dave learns I’m on my honeymoon while warming up the audience, he’d single me out during the show and say to my husband, “What’s the matter with you? You bring her here for your honeymoon? How romantic.” Then, he’d turn to me and say, “It’s not too late you know,” and I’d respond coyly with, “Why do you think I’m here, Dave?,” which induces his signature he he he laugh and tongue across the teeth as the audience erupts in laughter and applause.
His retirement really puts a kink in the plans. Now I’ll never marry! Ha. ha. ha.
I also fantasize about someday making the poor schmuck I end up with (who has to be a fan, it’s compulsory) a birthday/anniversary/just because card with the Top Ten reasons why he’s the best, or why I love him, or why it’s over… So many possibilities!
In 2009, as luck would have it, I did get to see a live taping of the Late Show when I went on a girl’s trip to New York City.
In order to get tickets, my friend and I were interviewed by a staffer as part of an audience screening process. We were asked to name our favourite segments. I was nervous, so I said, “Great Moments in Presidential Speeches” and rambled on about that time they set up a hose from the nearby Jamba Juice that siphoned juice through the streets of New York right to Dave’s desk in the Ed Sullivan Theater.
I was scared we didn’t do enough, but later that day we got the call from the show while in Tiffany’s! What better surprise could be had in that store?! We were given a code word (I don’t remember it) to pick up our tickets. The theater is much smaller than I expected. The space between Dave’s desk and the band seems vast on TV. It’s not. From our seats pretty close to the front, we mostly had to watch the monitors since the cameras and crew are positioned so close to the desk. So we didn’t actually SEE Dave that much. In fact, most of my memories of the show are not of Dave himself.
- Penelope Cruz was a guest and I remember thinking she looked way skinnier in person – so the camera does add ten pounds!
- I met Rupert Jee in the Hello Deli (pictured below). I remember thinking what a pain in the ass it must be for him to pose for pictures constantly. As you can see, he clearly doesn’t try to hide it on his face. It was awkward, but that didn’t stop me. We did end up buying some food out of guilt, though.
- We saw Pat Farmer on the street before the show (pictured below). I remember thinking it was strange to see people you see on TV just walking around outside like a normal person. So naturally, I took a picture of him because that’s normal.
So I wouldn’t say being the same room as Dave was a religious experience. But it was still really cool and an awesome memory I’ll never forget.
I think what I like most about Dave is his interview style. I couldn’t give a crap about Bill O’Reilly or Donald Trump, but if I hear they’re going to be on Letterman, I get pumped. The conversation is always stimulating and he isn’t afraid to skewer them. While “the Jimmy’s” are busy sucking up to their guests and inventing elaborate games and skits to kill time and go viral (ok, that’s just the one Jimmy. The other Jimmy I’d actually kinda like if he’d stop reading his monologue so fast), Dave’s kicking it old school, actually getting some talking done on a talk show. He orchestrates conversations to draw out the material organically; he doesn’t depend on scripts or characters as safety nets. It comes with experience, fair enough.
The man is just smart. He’s so quick with the one-liners you can tell aren’t rehearsed. The best line from Dave that I’ll always remember was after that bizarre, now infamous Joaquin Phoenix hoax interview where he pretended to be off the rails for a documentary no one saw. Dave closes the horribly awkward interview without skipping a beat by saying, “Joaquin, I’m sorry you couldn’t be here tonight.” Perfection.
I love what the Late Show stood for over the years – making a mockery of the talk show format. Stupid Pet Tricks, Stupid Human Tricks, Will It Float?, Late Show Fun Facts, Know Your Cuts of Meat. And actually, what makes the stupid segments even greater is when things don’t go as planned, or are so half-assed no one could expect them to, and Dave’s left to masterfully make up for it. He’s the best when caught off guard. Any episodes featuring animals and Dave makes for guaranteed hilarious television.
My favourite gag I could never tire of is when at the end of an interview, they substitute the clip for a big blockbuster special effects film with a black and white B movie clip of a man walking around in a cardboard box dressed as a robot. The guest watches in discomfort, probably internally reviewing the terms of their contract and wondering how pissed the film’s distribution company is at that moment. Again, it’s the show subtly making fun of the industry it’s there to promote. There’s nothing funnier than biting the hand that feeds you.
Dave wasn’t without controversy. The way he responded to a journalist in a recent interview bringing up his affairs with female staffers years ago was hilarious: “Oh yes. My sex scandal. That’s right.” HA. It’s almost laughable now. Goofy David Letterman had a sex scandal. I know this is completely unfeminist of me, but I remember at the time, it didn’t really upset me. People would ask, “Are you still going to watch NOW?” Of course I was! The guy made a huge mistake and got nailed for it. End of story. This isn’t a person in my life who I need to depend on or admire or look up to. He’s the entertainment. It would be insane of me to internalize or take anything he does personally.
So why am I crying?
I’m sad because I’ll miss it. I love comedy and I love the show. I don’t think any other show or any other host will come close to the enjoyment I get from Dave’s Late Show. And to think, I was really only able to appreciate the last ten years. That’s less than one-third of his whole run on television. So who knows, maybe 20 years from now I’ll be crying about one of the Jimmy’s with an even deeper sense of loss.
Yeah, I doubt it.
So, who knows a good shrink?