Archives For May 2015

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100. Brother Theodore

99. “Wake the kids! Call the neighbors!”

98. The Guy Under the Seats (Chris Elliott)

97. Calling out John McCain

96. Crispin “Hellion” Glover

95. Fill-in Guest Extraordinaire: Tony Randall

94. Just Shades

93. Just Lamps

92. World Wide Pants

91. Monkey Cam!

90. “That” Madonna interview

89. Dr. Ruth

88. Sneakers with suits

87. Pencils stuck in the acoustical ceiling tiles in Dave’s office

86. Canned Ham

85. Bob & Ray

84. Siskel & Ebert

83. “Have you ever had the hump of a camel?”

82. The Amazing Randi & Peter Popoff

81. Wasn’t clear Bette Davis knew who Dave was — or didn’t care

80. The Alka Seltzer Suit

79. “It’s time to play, Will it Float?”

78. Working the drive-through at fast food joints

77. The thing about the woman breaking into his house was funny until it was just tragically sad

76. Jane Pauley and Dave going through the yearbook from their high school

75. Brokaw showing up the first night at CBS

74. Tom Selleck impersonates a motorboat

73. Cybil Sheppard shows up in a towel

72. A vat of onion dip

71. Unrequited Love Interest: Richard Simmons

70. Mujibur & Sirajul

69. When the NBC show finally went to 5 nights instead of 4

68. The on-air apologies/mea culpas

67. Tom Snyder — smooth and sly every time.

66. Presidents & First Ladies

65. Marv Albert!

64. Marv Albert’s Wild & Wacky Sports

63. The Charles Grodin appearances

62. Dave’s play by play of the Jay/Conan debacle

61. Dave introduces Stern to the U.S.

60. The Ed Sullivan Theater

59. Dropping, smashing, crushing, and throwing stuff

58. Using a bullhorn to interrupt the Today Show broadcasting outside at 30 Rock

57. Warren Zevon got the whole hour for his last public appearance

56. “Show Bidness!”

55. The night Cher called Dave an a-hole

54.  Paul Newman in the crowd the first night at CBS

53. Bruce Springsteen and The World’s Most Dangerous Band on the last night at NBC

52. The night Dave announced he would retire

51. The time the GE security guy wouldn’t shake Dave’s hand

50. Throwing pencils, the sound of breaking glass

49. The Terri Garr years

48. “Our director Hal Gurtner, ladies and gentlemen.”

47. “It’s Gurnee, Dave.”

46. Sonny & Cher reunite to sing “I Got You Babe”

45. Regis!

44. Any bit with kids

43. That theme song! (And those announcers — thank you, Bill Wendell & Alan Kalter.)

42. The last 20 shows

41. The microphone was always there for Martin Short

40. “New York, New York – the town so nice they named it twice…”

39. Letterman leaves Joan Rivers to interview herself

38. “From the home office…”

37. Every Alec Baldwin appearance

36. Kevin Spacey’s Al Pacino impression — sitting next to Pacino

35. Paul McCartney Rooftop Concert

34. Making things right with Bill Hicks’s Mom

33. The night Jerry Lawler slapped Andy Kaufman

32. The night Levon Helm didn’t show up

31. Museum of the Hard to Believe

30. Matt Damon’s Matthew McConaughey impression

29. The Velcro Suit

28. “Bermuda! It’s a cuckoo kinda place! It’s a nutty, nutty kind of space, Bermuda!”

27. Off Center Favorite: Amy Sedaris

26. “Joaquin, I’m sorry you couldn’t be here tonight.”

25. Darlene Love singing “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)”

24. Bits with Dave’s Mom

23. The night Conan showed up post-Tonight Show debacle

22. Rupert Jee

21. The night Dustin Hoffman and Robert De Niro appeared together

20. Tina Fey always delivered the funny and more

19. Writers’ Strike Episodes

18. First night back from heart surgery

17. First night back after 9/11

16. Monologue the night of Johnny Carson’s death

15. Biff!

14. Jack Hanna

13. Thrill Cam!

12. Viewer Mail

11. Stupid Pet Tricks & Stupid Human Tricks

10. Top Ten Lists

9. Larry Bud Melman (God bless you, Calvert DeForest)

8. Merrill Markoe (creator of Stupid Pet Tricks, Stupid Human Tricks, Viewer Mail)

7. The last time Johnny Carson ever appeared on TV

6. Mount Rushmore: Steve Martin, Martin Short, Bill Murray, Tom Hanks

5. The Stand Ups: Jerry Seinfeld, Jay Leno, Rich Hall, Norm Macdonald, Tom Dreesen, George Miller, Larry Miller, Steven Wright, Jake Johannsen, Jon Stewart, Ray Romano, Brian Regan, Elayne Boosler, Ritch Shydner, Dennis Miller, Eddie Izzard, Gilbert Gottfried, Rita Rudner, Fred Stoller, Bobcat Goldthwait, Judy Tenuta, Will Shriner, Emo Philips (amended) (Thanks, Kime!)

4. The CBS Orchestra

3. The World’s Most Dangerous Band

2. Paul Shaffer

And the #1 Thing To Remember After May 20th, 2015: “You know him, you love him, you can’t live without him…”

LettermanCovers

A few Letteman covers from my collection — with the current issue of Rolling Stone: Dave Says Goodbye

I’ve put off posting something here of my thoughts and feelings on the end of the Letterman Era. Maybe I’ve been hoping against hope that Dave would change his mind. But he can’t change his mind now. Nor should he. It’s time. He knows it. We know it. That doesn’t change the fact that it feels like a kick in the gut.

I imagine sometime in the last couple of years, David Letterman sat in front of a TV or some newfangled device watching clips of Fallon and Kimmel. In my mind I hear Letterman saying, “God bless them. I used to be that fearless and dangerous on TV.” And it’s true, he surely was fearless, dangerous — and just so damn funny. You might not know it to look at him or his show now but there a was a time 30 years ago — and for about 20 years that followed — that Letterman crackled with the energy and sting of static electricity on a cold winter’s day. He creaks more than crackles these days. That’s ok. It’s the natural order of things. He’s an elder statesman in a medium that has changed dramatically. But watch 10 minutes of any episode of the original NBC Late Show with David Letterman and you’ll instantly recognize that Conan, Kimmel, and Fallon are standing on Dave’s shoulders.

I was a sophomore in high school when Late Night with David Letterman premiered on NBC. My friends and I had been fans of his short lived daytime show on which we’d all gotten hooked during the summer of 1980. When Late Night started up in the winter of ’82 it was a revelation. There were only 3 major networks. We had the radio but no Internet. Yet even in that extremely finite world of entertainment choices there was nothing else like David Letterman or his show. He looked like a guy who might try to sell you a car. He acted like the cool substitute teacher you hoped to get at school. He presided over a 3 ring circus of cutting edge music acts, edgy stand up comics, insane comedy bits, and unpredictable interviews. The Thrill Cam, Viewer Mail, Stupid Pet Tricks, Stupid Human Tricks, Larry Bud Melman, The Guy Who Lives Under the Seats, Brother Theodore, Jerry Lawler & Andy Kaufman, Dr. Ruth, Museum of the Hard to Belive, “Bermuda! It’s a cuckoo place…” “Wake the kids! Call the neighbors!” “New York, New York – the town so nice they named it twice!”

The show grew up a bit when he moved to CBS — but it still felt like alternative programming to what became of the The Tonight Show post Carson. (And I’m not a Leno hater.) Following 911, Dave’s heart attack, the birth of his son and the public humiliation of a scandal, we got the kinder, gentler Dave and a kinder, gentler show. That’s ok too. Things are not supposed to stay the same forever. Change works its way into everything and then the end comes. I’ve stuck with Letterman for 35 years and I’ll be in front of the TV with him until it’s over tomorrow night.

I’ve watched the last few weeks as guests have teared up, and I’ve teared up with them. Letterman has been looser and appears to have enjoyed himself more in the last 20 shows than all the previous shows combined. So, yeah — it’s probably time to call it a day but it looks like he’s going to soak up every last second. I’m glad he’s going out this way. But it still feels like a kick in the gut.

MERYLMOM