Here we go again – the end of (yet another) era, as David Letterman, the last of my generation of late night talk show hosts says goodnight for the final time in this role, time slot, capacity. And I will be right there, with millions of others, to laugh, cry, and wish to heck he would “not go gently” from that late night.
Yes, I’ll be there tonight. But, where have I been for the past five or more years? Mostly over on TVLAND, watching re-runs of Everybody Loves Raymond (actually produced by Dave’s company, Worldwide Pants) and King of Queens.
As a Chicago area (albeit mostly music and radio), but overall media commentator and author, Ron Smith, recently tweeted, “If all the people who are sad that David Letterman is retiring actually watched him over the years he wouldn’t have been perpetually #2.”
I absolutely must plead guilty. In fact, the last time I remember watching Letterman was six years ago when Joaquin Phoenix pulled his bizarre Andy Kaufman–esque stoner stunt. However, it’s not as if I was cheating on Letterman. I was never watching his competition. As confessed, I was tuned in to the last century – not Leno or Jimmy Fallon.
The main reason I moved away from late night network talk shows is I was out of touch with current celebrities. I would readily watch Dave’s monologue or Top 10 list if I thought about it, then change the channel back to 20th century sitcoms. Because, for the most part, talk show guests are younger performers of whom I know little, pitching their new movies or TV shows I never plan to see.
I have always loved David. I regularly watched Late Night With David Letterman in the 1980s, when it came on after Johnny Carson. When I tried to discuss it with co-workers, they had not yet heard of him – they didn’t stay up that late. When Jay Leno surprisingly was the heir to Carson’s throne, I faithfully followed Dave to The Late Show With David Letterman on CBS.
Despite migrating to cable channel re-runs over the past decade, as a lifelong night owl, I always watched late night talk shows. When we were just kids, my brother and I stayed up summer nights, enjoying Steve Allen. In that same era, when their mother was at my house playing cards with my parents, the boys next door and I played board games and watched Jack Parr at their house. Years later, I watched Joey Bishop, and then, one of my all time favorites, the supremely cerebral (yet, very funny) Dick Cavett.
Ultimately, it was Johnny Carson, all the way, and obviously, Carson was the gateway drug that led me to Letterman.
I don’t have a poignant, pithy, or profound conclusion for this blog. I just couldn’t let it end without writing something. I hate endings of any kind. All his predecessors were grownups – Dave is more like a big brother. So, let’s not call this retirement or anything that sounds like something old people do.
Finally, it’s only sad to me, because, though I had not watched in years, it was comforting to know David Letterman was still right there – just a few channels away. I will miss that…
Love ya, Dave! 💙
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