Tomorrow night, David Letterman will sign off from the “Late Show.” With over 30 years hosting a late night program and over 20 of those years coming at CBS, most television viewers will find it a little strange once Dave goes off the air. Count me as one of those.
I became a David Letterman fan when I bought a publication that contained a collection of his famous Top Ten lists at a book fair in elementary school. I skimmed through the book with a friend and saw that it had the word “damn” and “hell” sprinkled throughout it. By buying it, I felt like a seasoned adult. Through reading the book, I became familiar with the show’s humor and format a few years before I even actually started watching it. Of course, once I actually did get to watch the program I felt like a stud. Staying up late and watching the semi-adult humor made me feel cool.
I have stayed loyal to Letterman throughout the years. I thought he blew Leno out of the water. With the new age of late night hosts taking over the past few years, I still preferred Dave. I watched him through middle school, high school, and college. There was a stretch during my final year in Montana that I seemed to watch the show a few times a week. I enjoyed his dry, sometimes mean, sense of humor. He could make me laugh out loud.
I have a few special memories when it comes to “Late Night with David Letterman.” The first was watching Alex Rodriguez go on the show for the first time. It was the mid-90’s and A-Rod had started to establish himself as a superstar. As he was a hero of mine, it was a big deal to me that he would be on the show. My parents taped the program for me and I viewed it the next day. I watched the interview thinking that Letterman absolutely loved Alex. Little did I know that Dave (just like any other late night host) smiles at all his guests and does all he can to make them look good.
An extended memory that I have is watching the show with my dad on Friday nights when I was in middle school. Back in those days, and he might still do it now, Letterman would always use Fridays to open up the CBS Mailbag and answer questions from viewers. He would read a question and then they would play some super corny skit they taped earlier in the day to address the answer. My dad and I loved how dumb these sketches were and also had a mild obsession with the song they would play when the segment would start.
Of course my favorite David Letterman memory was when I actually got to watch a live taping of the show in 2008. My dad, brother, and I took a vacation to watch baseball games in the old Yankees Stadium and Shea Stadium before they both shut down. During the days of the trip, we explored the city. A couple weeks before we left for the Big Apple, I applied for tickets to the Late Show. About a week later I received a telephone call from a Late Night staff member. He told me if I could answer a trivia question correctly I would win two tickets. He asked me to name the show’s announcer and it took me all but one second to respond with Alan Kalter.
My brother and I attended the taping. The Ed Sullivan Theater is so much smaller in person than on TV. Dave came out and talked to everyone in the audience before the show started and was a totally cool guy. Once the taping began, despite a couple outtakes, it was smooth sailing. Amanda Peet and John Hamm were the guests. Augustana served as the musical act. It was a neat experience and definitely cemented my fandom for David Letterman.
I will be watching the final show tomorrow evening. I wish David Letterman, Paul Shaffer, Biff Henderson, Alan Kalter, and the rest of the gang the best. I am thankful for the 15+ years of entertainment that was provided to me. Don’t Blink.