TV geeks and comedy geeks alike came together to say goodbye to one of modern entertainment’s true originals and most important figures last night as David Letterman put together his final late night show for CBS after an impossible run that encompassed two networks, 33 years, over 6,000 broadcasts and damn near 20,000 guests.
Letterman’s final Top 10, which can be seen above, shows some of the scope of influence that the Indiana native has on the entertainment landscape we all surround ourselves in — no legend has more legends who would be willing to come crack a joke at his beck and call than David Letterman.
Why? I’m still trying to completely suss that out myself. Look, I’ve watched David Letterman as long as I’ve gotten the hang of staying up later at night than I should. His talent, even as he faded into his less committed twilight years, was always evident, his influence — given how so many future funny writers and performers say Letterman was an essential part of their personal upbringings — is rock solid.
But more than anything I remain in awe of Letterman’s ability to draw from every angle and crevasse of American society to entertain a disparate selection of TV watchers for so many nights, its an incredible influence for anyone who wishes to be a broadcaster in any level. That’s not even going into his wilder and riskier approach to putting together a show, something that saw him do things like stage an episode of “Late Night” on an airplane or slapping a working camera on a monkey.
To be able to watch something that you not only can’t see anywhere else on TV, but that you never have and never will see on TV again is a quality that we have to associate most with David Letterman, no one went so consistently up the block and around the corner as him. Even that is literal, just ask Rupert Jee.
The internet, which was a weird abstract of an idea only aware by a select few in 1982, now acts at this moment as a gigantic field house for us to pass our time and a lot of that time is best spent high in the rafters looking at what was once considered great and what then passed for essential, so much so that the people of that time could not risk letting the future forget about it.
Below are just some (“just some” is stressed, this is hardly a comprehensive or definitive list) of Letterman’s division championships and retired jerseys as it were — nine plus the one above because he’ll always be associated with the number 10, but of course I couldn’t stop there and neither should you.
With no further a due, from the home offices in Milwaukee, Wisc., Scottsdale, Ariz., Sioux City, Iowa, Grand Rapids, Mich. and Wahoo, Neb… here’s our Top 10:
Letterman Was Great, Even on Late Night’s Bizarre First Episode (Slate/Vulture)
Paul Shaffer, ‘Late Show’ Bandleader, on Saying Goodbye to Letterman After 33 Years (NY Times)
David Letterman’s Top 10 Sports Moments (Time)
Funkmaster Flex Night: How a Letterman Diss Became Hip-Hop Legend (Rolling Stone)
David Letterman’s Best Hip-Hop Moments: Run D.M.C., Beastie Boys, J. Cole and More (Music Times)
*Note — Decent list but short, look up Jay-Z, Eminem, The Roots and Run The Jewels on Letterman as well.
David Letterman and Patrick Kane shared a great moment in 2013 (Chicago Sun-Times)
Last show for NBC
Title says it all
So does this one, but this monologue was as memorable and on-time as anything in the wake of our national tragedy.
Part of my personally forgiving Michael Richards was due to how much of a desperate goof he looked on Letterman. I wasn’t gonna hold venom for a dude who never really knew what he was doing.
Letterman been a playa, but he’s not going down for it like some other elder comedian in large part because he kept it real with his audience…also he didn’t rely on the medicine cabinet to get his…
Norm really represented for all those who really see the end of an era coming with Dave saying bye. Don’t feel bad if you shed a few thug tears by the end.
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