I've been watching him since he was on early in the morning. Many full time and not-so-full time media critics will be analyzing the late night TV magic David Letterman had for decades. It started on NBC then transferred to CBS. This blog post of mine is written as a viewer and a longtime fan. I will miss him.
That's what I meant about the brashness. He wasn't easy on stars simply because they were stars. That was Letterman's trademark then. He was still at NBC when I was new to New York City. Stars would be nervous before going onto his show. How do I know? They'd say so to me in our green room. Several times celebrities came to VH1 to tape interviews for my talk show and they'd remark "I have to do Letterman's show later today" and they'd say that with the same dread as a 7th grader saying "I have to go to the principal's office." Tony Danza moaned the most. He really hoped that Dave would be nice to him. Cher got bleeped for casually calling Dave "an asshole" on the show Shirley MacLaine casually repeated Cher's sentiments. His brashness would be replaced by a maturity because life knocks you around as yet get older. He grew out of the brash smart aleck phase and into more of an informed, embraceable curmudgeon. And we watched him get older over the years. Just like we viewers did, he experienced workplace disappointment, sexual immaturity, health problems, love, death, changes in family life and aging. We watched him flop. Remember when he hosted the Oscars? I started watching David Letterman when he was the new kid on the late night block. This week, I heard a reporter refer to him as the "elder statesman" of late night hosts. For us baby boomers, Dave reflects our growing older and our life experiences.
I gave two weeks notice and quit in January 1995. Yes, I understood Dave's disappointment at 30 Rock. I was thrilled when he relocated to CBS. His gifts, his hard work that made comedy look easy, had been validated, appreciated and highlighted. And his artistic gifts grew. A Kennedy Center Honor was bestowed upon him for his intelligent and innovative comedy. Our President made guest appearances on his show.
We watched him through major changes in television, in our society and in the world around us. I've continued to watch him over the last few years as I attempt to revive a career and rejoin the workplace. I was hit hard and rendered unemployed by The Great Recession. Like Dave, I'm older now too. And still in need of a laugh.
I've never met Mr. Letterman. But I stood close to him in the NBC lobby by an elevator once as he chatted with Bob Costas. I've had tickets to a few tapings of Letterman's show. However, he did mention some of my past work in one of his monologues. In between my VH1 and WNBC years, I was the host of a syndicated late night summer replacement game show. It was called Bedroom Buddies. I had a great time with a great crew taping that awful show in Los Angeles. The show was like a very low-rent version of The Newlywed Game -- only the couples weren't married. I did my best with that cheesy material because the gig, quite honestly, helped me pay off some bills.
I was told that Letterman mentioned seeing Bedroom Buddies. He did not say my name but he reportedly did say Bedroom Buddies "...marks the end of civilization as we know it."
It was a bad show. But I take comfort in the fact that both David Letterman and I have lived long enough to see even worse shows premiere on network television. Some even in prime time.
So long, David Letterman. I'm gonna miss you. A lot. Thanks for the laughs when I really needed them.