David Letterman’s Celebrated Broadcrast Career

21 May 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

As Letterman says goodbye, a look at the ‘Late Show’ during elections.

The transplanted Hoosier, who made Top Ten lists and ironic humor staples of television comedy and influenced a generation of performers, is hosting his final episode of CBS’ “Late Show” on Wednesday.Since Bill Murray stole the whole “jumping out of a cake” bit, Seth Meyers decided to go a different direction to pay homage to David Letterman as be ends his late night reign.In honor of the final Late Show With David Letterman Wednesday night, we surveyed a number of cultural figures on their favorite Letterman memories, both on and off the show. “Stupid Pet Tricks” and Chris Elliott’s man under the stairs were crowd favorites, while some couldn’t pick just one, choosing instead to reflect on his legacy.Twenty years ago a 20-year-old Drew Barrymore wearing a blue top and black pants hopped on top of David Letterman’s desk, swung her hips and flashed the late night host for his birthday before kissing him on the cheek. “From the moment I went on — especially with my little dance number, which was completely spontaneous and not calculated in any way — he let the audience know it was okay,” Barrymore told Entertainment Weekly. “From that infamous show, we developed a really fun chemistry.

“If you watched it without paying attention, it was a lot like The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, with guests and an audience and a band, but it was weird,” said Kimmel. “Even though it looked like every other talk show, it wasn’t. The show created a shot-for-shot remake of Letterman’s original opening title sequence. “We went out to the same streets, the same buildings and re-shot the opening,” Meyers said. He did not seem like he was a part of show business, he was uncomfortable, he never pretended to be excited and his way of saying things was so subtle that a lot of the time, the people he was talking to didn’t know he was joking.” Kimmel then noted one of his favorite examples of Letterman’s comedic style, and revealed how the host’s influence permeated his childhood via viewing parties, vanity plates and birthday cakes. “Looking back, I’ve now figured out why none of the girls at school wanted to have sex with me — I watched the show every night; I never missed it. And little did I know, many years and many pounds later, that watching the show was a great education for me,” he said, as ABC hired him for his own late-night gig after seeing him as Letterman’s guest. “We will have a show tomorrow night, it’ll be a rerun — please do not watch it, especially if you’re a young person who doesn’t understand what all the fuss is about,” stressed Kimmel, asking viewers to tune into Letterman’s farewell show instead. “Dave is the best, and you should see him.” Jimmy Kimmel Live! bandleader Cleto Escobedo then said of his counterpart Paul Shaffer, “Any of us that are fortunate enough to have a job like this owe a lot to Paul. When Letterman noted the president hadn’t seen him naked, Obama was quick to reply, “We’re gonna keep it that way.” Meanwhile, Romney wasn’t as keen on visiting the Late Show, prompting Letterman to instruct viewers not to vote for him if he didn’t appear before the election.

Romney did appear in December 2011 prior to the GOP primaries and delivered a “Top 10″ list on “Things Mitt Romney Would Like to Say to the American People.” Presidential candidates learned a valuable lesson from the 2008 campaign: Don’t cancel on Letterman. Anticipating the end, viewers sent Letterman to the top of the late-night ratings the week before last for the first time since Jimmy Fallon took over at NBC’s “Tonight” show and they competed with original telecasts. John McCain, the Republican presidential nominee, suspended his campaign in September to return to Washington following the onset of the financial crisis.

Celebrities used to being fawned over either clicked with his prickly personality or didn’t, and when Cher called him a more profane version of “jerk,” it became a memorable moment. His audience welcomed him back after a heart bypass, listened as he became the first late-night host back on the air after the 2001 terrorist attacks and saw him acknowledge to inappropriately having sex with a subordinate. When asked if he’d ever actually put lipstick on a pig — a reference to a phrase Obama had used to describe McCain policy proposals, which some Republicans suggested was an attack on vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin — the then-Illinois senator noted that he had not.

As retirement neared, Letterman joked about second thoughts. “Next week I’ll be Googling foods that improve prostate health,” the 68-year-old host said Tuesday. The Top Ten list was “Famous Last Words.” Bob Dylan sang the standard “The Night We Called it a Day.” Frequent foil Regis Philbin walked on, and they both expressed their admiration for each other. It’s hard to watch his show sometimes.” Rival Jimmy Kimmel paid tribute to Letterman by not making a fresh ABC show on Wednesday, where he usually competes in the same time slot. Fallon paid tribute on “Tonight” on Monday: “I, like every kid who grew up watching him, will miss him.” No personal attacks or insults, no hate speech, no profanity.

So what happened was, he’d tell an odd joke, you’d think it was hilarious, the audience in the studio would have a weird reaction, and then he’d look directly into the camera, like you’d think he was saying, You and I know this is funny, and the people here don’t get it. You know, when you’re doing stand-up, the laughs you like the most are when you hear your fellow comedians in the back of the room crack up, and that to me is what the Letterman show was. I was telling him about how I worked for a knife company, Cutco Knives, and they were like, “You have to sell it to your friends and family.” And the first person that I tried to sell it to was my best friend’s mother, but I couldn’t stop crying during it.

I was thinking about him the other day in the shower. [Chuckles.] I was thinking about the fact that his show is coming to an end, and I was thinking through my formative years when he was on NBC and then on CBS. Wednesday nights are notoriously bad.” And I said, you know, and the play got sort of mixed reviews, so … But anyways, I said to the theater, “Just fill the house, just get people in there. David Letterman is coming!” So we start the play, and we always knew how the play was going to go by the opening lines, which was me saying to him, “We’re losing points in the polls and we don’t have enough money for something,” and I say, “Why is all this happening?” and he would say, “Because you’ve fucked up everything you’ve touched.” So if people didn’t laugh, we knew we had a long night ahead of us. We just sort of sat in my dressing room for about five, ten minutes and chatted and then he finally said, “Well, I’m sure you want to rinse out a few things before you go.” And then he left. And the interview went something like this. “So, Billy, you got a big hit record.” “Yep.” “So, how are you enjoying the United States?” “Pretty nice.” “Yep.” “Nope.” So, I got on the next night, and I think David was pretty concerned about the pace of the interview, so we went back and forth pretty fast.

So on my bedroom wall—and this was in the age of Teen Beat and Tiger Beat or whatever—I had Harrison Ford, this great picture of David Letterman, I think from GQ, and Pee-wee Herman. My favorite Letterman moment was when he did a Stupid Pet Trick where there was a guy who had a dog, and he put money in a paper bag, and the dog went and bought beer for the guy. The first thing I started doing when I was a kid was I would pretend I was David Letterman and do school assemblies where I would basically just steal his top-ten lists and read them to the class. Paul McCartney’s really funny, and Letterman was like, “Why haven’t you ever done my show?” And he was like [high British accent], “Because I don’t like your show.” It was just the way he said it that made me laugh, and it’s fun to watch Letterman because he’s been doing it forever, so it’s nice to see him not care.

And this is my teen humor, I was like, “Dave, I know that’s not a real skyline behind you.” And then we’d do a musical number together, outside with the real New York skyline. And he really went there in terms of like having on wrestlers and, I mean, he had so many clips that I think were never even aired, where Crispin Glover punched him in the face.

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