David Letterman’s last top ten list

22 May 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

David Letterman ends legacy with irreverence.

“You know what I’m going to devote the rest of my life to?” David Letterman said on his last night as the host of Late Show on CBS. “Social media.” Letterman ended his 33-year career in late-night Wednesday as he had started it – with the irreverence, self-mockery and mischief that made him such an iconoclastic talk-show host. The “Late Show with David Letterman” produced a preliminary rating of 9.3 among local stations, outdrawing even prime-time telecasts on Wednesday, the network said in an e-mailed statement.It started on Sept. 18, 1985, with the “Top Ten Things That Almost Rhyme With Peas.” Since that first list, David Letterman’s “Top Ten” segment was a fixture of his late-night reign, with what began as a clever bit of media commentary ballooning into an iconic, recurring gag that neatly encapsulated the host’s off-kilter, non sequitur sensibility.

His farewell was much better than the usual mawkish television send-off: he mixed favourite segments like his Top 10 list with clips of classic skits and a few restrained fillips of sincerity and humility. Nielsen won’t issue total-viewer estimates until later today, but early indications are that the show drew its largest audience in more than nine years. For David Letterman’s last-ever musical performance, he brought in his “favorite band,” the Foo Fighters, to perform his “favorite song,” “Everlong.” Back in 2000, he had asked the band to come in and perform for his first show following open heart surgery.

On Wednesday, Letterman ran down his last “Top Ten,” a hilarious ranking of “Things I Always Wanted to Say to Dave” presented by the likes of Bill Murray, Alec Baldwin, Chris Rock, and a host of other celebrities. At the end of the show, last bastions of rock & roll Foo Fighters played their classic “Everlong” under a montage of Letterman’s TV career, from the opening credits of his 11 year run as host of NBC’s Late Night through to recent moments on CBS’ Late Show. The reason, as O’Brien said, was that Wednesday was “no ordinary night.” It was David Letterman’s last show, which aired during O’Brien’s segment. “There simply are no words that can encapsulate the sheer magnitude of what Dave has achieved,” O’Brien said. “He’s been the North Star for me and for every comic of my generation.” O’Brien spoke about the time Letterman came on his show while he was struggling early in his career: “It’s easily one of the happiest nights of my professional life,” he said, saying his career would not have taken off if not for Letterman’s visit. Come for Julia Louis-Dreyfus thanking Letterman for “letting me take part in another hugely disappointing series finale”; stay for Jim Carrey’s beard.

The highlight reel was gold for any longtime fans of Letterman: Chris Elliott’s various characters on Late Night; Andy Kaufman’s legendary fight with wrestler Jerry Lawler; A-plus-listers Dave welcomed on stage during his tenure at the Ed Sullivan Theatre; things exploding and/or being dropped off of buildings; Stupid Pet Tricks; and the late great Calvert Deforest, perhaps better known as Larry “Bud” Melman. Letterman’s retirement has gotten an extraordinary amount of focus – a frenzied outpouring of fan devotion, celebrity tributes and nonstop media attention – perhaps because he was so important to the last generation of viewers who grew up watching shows on a television set, and not on a smartphone. That was when he told everyone to change the channel. “I’m going to let you know the exact moment when Dave’s show is starting,” he said, telling viewers to record his show so they could switch over to watch Letterman. “You cannot miss out,” he said. Wednesday was the true end of an era with Letterman retiring and this clip reel measured out the size of the large shoes—maybe pants would be a better metaphor—that Stephen Colbert is filling. Letterman’s crack about younger performers who use Twitter and Facebook was a shout-out to the talk-show host’s core audience, the late-night viewers who decades ago defined themselves as the insurgents who preferred Letterman to Leno.

He then showed a clip of one of his more famous pranks when he posed as a server at a drive-through Taco Bell and tormented customers with terrible service. The clips of his absurdist gags, riffs on conventional television comedy, were fun, but they were also a reminder of how inventive and seditious Letterman was in his heyday, and how much his successors in today’s late-night constellation owe him. The show’s series premiere in August 1993 was the only other telecast to have topped 15 million (15.205 million). “Late Show” had been building its audience prior to the finale, with Letterman’s penultimate full week averaging 3.82 million viewers, the show’s largest since 2011. And then on Monday of this week, it hit a five year-high in the overnights (4.1 household rating/11 share), followed by a six-year high on Tuesday (4.9/12) with guests Bill Murray and Bob Dylan.

Even after more than 30 years, Letterman never lost his arch, ironical self-awareness; he did not sink into the easy, quid pro quo conventions of late-night talk shows, he kept defying them. Mixed feelings make sense in a comedian who was always paradoxical – a winning, witty and supremely confident performer who offstage was practically a hermit and riven by self-doubt. Fans are devoted to Letterman in part because they know his psyche so well: He is an intensely private celebrity who kept processing his personal life in front of the camera. He brought his medical team on to his show after his 2000 quintuple bypass, and he even described his affairs with women in his office as “creepy” in an unnerving mea culpa in 2009.

He also paid a solemn, quite personal tribute to his son and his wife, Regina, who were seated in the audience. “Thank you for being my family,” he said. “I love you both and really, nothing else matters, does it?” Mostly, though, he did what he did best, make fun of himself. “It’s beginning to look like I’m not going to get the Tonight Show,” Letterman joked.

Here you can write a commentary on the recording "David Letterman’s last top ten list".

* Required fields
All the reviews are moderated.
Our partners
Follow us
Contact us
Our contacts

About this site