I’m very sad about David Letterman retiring! Even when it comes to television hosts, I’m like Stewie on Family Guy.
Dave was so different and shocking when he first got on the air. The parents kept watching Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show and the kids all switched to Letterman. People forget how revolutionary Letterman was. Because everyone has copied him, he now seems mainstream, but he was the one who changed everything. He is the TV host version of Never Is the Next New Thing™!
In 2011, Rolling Stone published a great story on the first year of Late Night With David Letterman on NBC, explaining how radical it was.
Personally, I still haven’t recovered from Dave’s 1983 visits to the stores Just Bulbs and Just Shades (starting at 1:49 in this clip of classic bits).
Then there was 1984’s Velcro suit.
And it was good to learn what happens when bowling balls are dropped off a five-story tower onto a water bed.
Years later, Letterman showed he could be serious with his moving post-9/11 monologue (note: the show aired on Sept. 19, 2001, before the final casualty count was known).
I’ve been to a taping of the Letterman show a few times. I know I went to one in June 2003, when Adrien Brody was a guest. I think the one I went to in 1999 was May 19, when Tom Selleck was a guest, because Courtney Love was on the following day. I also went another time in the ’90s with my gorgeous sister. I happened to be wearing my leopard Betsey Johnson jacket and we both swore we saw it when the camera panned the audience during a show that taped and aired a couple of days later. Very strange!
I hope that CBS finds someone who is NOT a white man in a suit to replace Dave. We’re all stocked up on those. For years, I’ve wanted to see Chelsea Handler move to one of the big networks and with her E! show, Chelsea Lately, ending, the timing is perfect. I swear, if it’s another white dude, when CBS chief Les Moonves goes home, I’ll be under his bed, like Eminem when you sell his autograph on eBay.
In the meantime, I will stock up on Paul Shaffer fire alarms.
UPDATED TO ADD: This is a good tribute to Dave’s groundbreaking ways AND good inspiration for looking up classic clips. Thrill Cam, here I come. I also like this list of musical moments, which includes my almost-husband, Paul McCartney, and a Beastie Boys performance that always springs to my mind when I hear “Ch-Check It Out.”