The Incomparable

247: Monkey Cam


00:00:00   the uncomfortable is brought to you by [TS]

00:00:01   bizarre new world a new Kickstarter for [TS]

00:00:03   a graphic novel going on right now it [TS]

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00:00:09   what if everybody else learn to fly on [TS]

00:00:11   one special day [TS]

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00:00:17   our new world is a comedy fantasy [TS]

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00:00:28   taste of what this bizarre new world is [TS]

00:00:30   all about [TS]

00:00:31   it's a 278 page completely finished [TS]

00:00:33   graphic novel will have you hooked from [TS]

00:00:35   beginning to end [TS]

00:00:36   check out the Kickstarter search for [TS]

00:00:38   bizarre new world kickstarter.com and [TS]

00:00:41   help them make it that's bizarre new [TS]

00:00:43   world be Izar re new world.com for more [TS]

00:00:46   information [TS]

00:00:54   when you're a kid television is a [TS]

00:00:57   daytime thing for an evening thing but [TS]

00:01:00   at some point you go to bed and the [TS]

00:01:02   grown-up stay up late and watch things [TS]

00:01:03   you're just not allowed to see the [TS]

00:01:05   nineteen seventies that forbidden things [TS]

00:01:07   could be boiled down into a person [TS]

00:01:09   Johnny Carson he was the thing that our [TS]

00:01:13   parents watched late at night least [TS]

00:01:15   sometimes and in the days before most [TS]

00:01:18   families have VCRs if you were up at [TS]

00:01:20   eleven-thirty with an earache or some [TS]

00:01:22   other horrible affliction and your kid [TS]

00:01:24   you never saw Johnny Carson [TS]

00:01:28   well I loved Carson but it always felt [TS]

00:01:30   to me I was too young and you know it's [TS]

00:01:32   the lack of wisdom the foolishness of [TS]

00:01:34   you think I thought well of course he's [TS]

00:01:36   going to retirees kind of all right [TS]

00:01:38   not that I was sick of a show but I [TS]

00:01:39   thought of course you know where as you [TS]

00:01:41   know in Letterman surround partner and [TS]

00:01:42   right around the same age so I'm sure [TS]

00:01:44   somebody who's in their twenties now [TS]

00:01:45   it's gonna think the same thing well of [TS]

00:01:47   course Letterman's retirees you know [TS]

00:01:49   just kinda old when cars were retired in [TS]

00:01:51   1992 was a huge television event but of [TS]

00:01:54   course Carson is retiring [TS]

00:01:56   he's kind of old funny how time works [TS]

00:01:58   now it's 2015 and the main comedy figure [TS]

00:02:00   of my generation David Letterman is the [TS]

00:02:03   old man and I find myself right where [TS]

00:02:06   those fans of Johnny Carson war two [TS]

00:02:07   decades ago saying goodbye to an [TS]

00:02:09   immeasurably influential performer to an [TS]

00:02:12   audience full of younger people who seem [TS]

00:02:14   just as this old guy who's been on TV [TS]

00:02:16   forever [TS]

00:02:17   there's no single performer who has had [TS]

00:02:20   more influence on my sense of humor on [TS]

00:02:21   my appreciation for certain kinds of [TS]

00:02:23   comedy [TS]

00:02:23   even my understanding about how [TS]

00:02:25   creativity works then David Letterman [TS]

00:02:28   yeah that guy that cranky 68 year old [TS]

00:02:31   guy who has been on television for more [TS]

00:02:34   than 30 years now that guy this is the [TS]

00:02:37   incomparable number 247 for may 2015 I'm [TS]

00:02:41   Jason snow it's david letterman's last [TS]

00:02:44   week on the air so let's send them off [TS]

00:02:46   right [TS]

00:03:04   in the nineteen seventies the nation [TS]

00:03:08   discovered a young comedian named david [TS]

00:03:10   letterman if I discovered you mean never [TS]

00:03:13   noticed an Indiana native radio and TV [TS]

00:03:16   broadcaster david letterman moved to LA [TS]

00:03:18   in search of fame but what he found was [TS]

00:03:20   a community of comedians who respected [TS]

00:03:22   him and a series of forgettable [TS]

00:03:24   television appearances on shows like the [TS]

00:03:26   Starland Vocal Band show Mary Tyler [TS]

00:03:28   Moore's post sitcom variety show Robin [TS]

00:03:32   Williams got him a guest-starring gig on [TS]

00:03:33   an episode of Mork and Mindy where David [TS]

00:03:36   Letterman ultimately succeeded though [TS]

00:03:37   was on The Tonight Show with Johnny [TS]

00:03:39   Carson took a liking to him kept asking [TS]

00:03:41   him back and ultimately made him a [TS]

00:03:43   regular guest host NBC also had its eyes [TS]

00:03:46   on data Letterman but with Carson at the [TS]

00:03:48   height of his powers the question was [TS]

00:03:50   what could they do with him so they did [TS]

00:03:52   the logical thing they put them on the [TS]

00:03:54   middle of the morning right after the [TS]

00:03:55   Today Show I was 15 years old in the [TS]

00:03:58   summer of nineteen eighty when David [TS]

00:04:01   Letterman got his morning show and [TS]

00:04:02   everybody knew David Letterman had no [TS]

00:04:06   business doing a morning show but that [TS]

00:04:10   was the slot that NBC had for him and in [TS]

00:04:13   that day of very constrained Spink turd [TS]

00:04:17   television programming schedules and [TS]

00:04:20   priorities you made the best with what [TS]

00:04:22   you had he did game shows as well he was [TS]

00:04:25   a whiz at password and pyramid and [TS]

00:04:29   whenever they could they should warn him [TS]

00:04:30   in you know on one of you know whenever [TS]

00:04:34   johnny was taking a vacation which was [TS]

00:04:36   usually tomorrow [TS]

00:04:38   thats Sarah Bernhardt former TV critic [TS]

00:04:40   at the Kansas City Star and someone i [TS]

00:04:41   met on the Internet specifically because [TS]

00:04:43   of our love of david letterman and what [TS]

00:04:46   a surprise when I discovered that the [TS]

00:04:47   other TV critic i know Tim Goodman of [TS]

00:04:49   the hollywood reporter was also watching [TS]

00:04:51   that unlikely david letterman show that [TS]

00:04:53   aired in the mornings in 1980s yeah is [TS]

00:04:57   that I discovered when he had a show in [TS]

00:04:58   the daytime [TS]

00:04:59   oh you were one of the morning show [TS]

00:05:00   people all right they show that was [TS]

00:05:02   inappropriate for morning [TS]

00:05:03   yeah this random and it was like Edwin [TS]

00:05:05   Newman was one of those that yeah i was [TS]

00:05:07   so weird back then and I was discovered [TS]

00:05:10   that in those days and then and then [TS]

00:05:12   just don't know i mean a little more [TS]

00:05:13   jaded now because I've been the TV great [TS]

00:05:15   for so long and there's been so many [TS]

00:05:16   hosts there but [TS]

00:05:17   at the time when I wasn't and I was a TV [TS]

00:05:20   fan I was like a kid this guy to me i [TS]

00:05:23   felt like i was watching the revolution [TS]

00:05:24   man this guy that this guy was great i [TS]

00:05:26   didn't know all the influences he had [TS]

00:05:29   but I did know and now of course I know [TS]

00:05:31   but how refreshing in and funny and [TS]

00:05:34   Goofy he was um and that you had to [TS]

00:05:37   watch that was great for him to have his [TS]

00:05:40   own platform other than an occasional [TS]

00:05:41   television special they had to give him [TS]

00:05:44   something and so he did morning [TS]

00:05:46   television as nobody has ever done [TS]

00:05:49   morning television and the response to [TS]

00:05:52   that I mean they cancelled him it as we [TS]

00:05:55   all know NBC would because the [TS]

00:05:56   housewives who made up the bulk of [TS]

00:05:59   daytime TV viewing in 1980 did not get [TS]

00:06:03   David Letterman but the rest of us who [TS]

00:06:04   are on summer vacation that summer we [TS]

00:06:07   flock to the show and when NBC announced [TS]

00:06:10   that they were canceling him [TS]

00:06:11   people flock to 30 rock to sit in the [TS]

00:06:15   aisles even impose a fire hazard is as [TS]

00:06:18   Letterman famously point out on one of [TS]

00:06:20   his shows and be part of what they [TS]

00:06:22   thought was television history by the [TS]

00:06:24   time Letterman's morning showing off the [TS]

00:06:26   air after about four months [TS]

00:06:28   NBC knew he had something and the king [TS]

00:06:31   of late night Johnny Carson just signed [TS]

00:06:32   a new contract to give him control over [TS]

00:06:34   what aired on NBC after his show went [TS]

00:06:37   off the air so NBC cancelled Tom [TS]

00:06:39   Snyder's tomorrow show and made space [TS]

00:06:41   for a Carson produced talk show hosted [TS]

00:06:43   by david letterman when he came back for [TS]

00:06:47   good on februari first 1982 it was [TS]

00:06:50   already established that he would be [TS]

00:06:53   doing the anti Johnny Carson show what [TS]

00:06:56   he had already done two morning [TS]

00:06:58   television he was going to do too late [TS]

00:07:01   night television and then some [TS]

00:07:03   I'm making the anti Johnny Carson show [TS]

00:07:05   wasn't just a good idea it was actually [TS]

00:07:07   required the King had spoken the [TS]

00:07:09   Letterman Show couldn't resemble the [TS]

00:07:11   tonight show too closely [TS]

00:07:13   Johnny Carson also have a very strong [TS]

00:07:15   survival instinct and even though he [TS]

00:07:18   would sometimes joke about you know he [TS]

00:07:20   had those those jokes when his monologue [TS]

00:07:22   was dying he had those those saver jokes [TS]

00:07:24   and one of his more famous one was just [TS]

00:07:27   walk off now and let Letterman take over [TS]

00:07:29   the show Johnny despite [TS]

00:07:31   kidding about it knew that he needed to [TS]

00:07:35   step up his game and he needed also to [TS]

00:07:39   protect his turf and in 1981 you're the [TS]

00:07:43   king of late night what you mostly do is [TS]

00:07:45   protect your turf so he dictated terms [TS]

00:07:47   to David Letterman who although Dave [TS]

00:07:50   adore johnny was put under some rather [TS]

00:07:53   humiliating i think creative constraints [TS]

00:07:56   the the first of which was he was not [TS]

00:07:58   allowed to have a band of more than four [TS]

00:08:00   members and he was not allowed to tell [TS]

00:08:02   more than I think for jokes in his [TS]

00:08:04   opening monologue and several other [TS]

00:08:07   features that day would not be allowed [TS]

00:08:10   to have on his show less it remind [TS]

00:08:13   anybody of The Tonight Show Starring [TS]

00:08:15   Johnny cars i remember i don't know what [TS]

00:08:17   the specific contract said but i know [TS]

00:08:19   that there was is that I think was a [TS]

00:08:21   time length on the monologue this is [TS]

00:08:23   john gruber writer of daring fireball [TS]

00:08:24   with the monologue Dave just embraced it [TS]

00:08:27   like the the monologue on I thinks [TS]

00:08:29   people who are only familiar with the [TS]

00:08:30   modern Letterman showed the late show [TS]

00:08:33   with they went back and watched some of [TS]

00:08:36   the eighties ones with us like me and [TS]

00:08:38   you would be dying and just crying [TS]

00:08:40   laughing and they would be like wait a [TS]

00:08:42   minute that was the monologue like three [TS]

00:08:44   stupid jokes one of them which didn't [TS]

00:08:47   make any sense at all and David just [TS]

00:08:48   turn it and show his ass to America and [TS]

00:08:50   walk to his desk like three quick jokes [TS]

00:08:53   and be out and it was just sort of like [TS]

00:08:55   the way David's attitude was the time [TS]

00:08:57   made it seem as though we are legally [TS]

00:08:59   obligated to have a monologue but so [TS]

00:09:01   here's here's your stupid monologue a [TS]

00:09:03   comedy of those early shows was that a [TS]

00:09:04   bunch of people who were aware of the [TS]

00:09:06   rules of television simply couldn't or [TS]

00:09:08   wouldn't follow them and would [TS]

00:09:10   acknowledge that fact explicitly and i [TS]

00:09:13   believe that was how they opened the [TS]

00:09:15   morning show they had been Larry but [TS]

00:09:17   Melman come on and say oh this week we [TS]

00:09:19   don't know why we allowed this to happen [TS]

00:09:22   please look away this is phillip michael [TS]

00:09:23   who I've known since college where we [TS]

00:09:25   both said and wrote a lot of things that [TS]

00:09:27   tried to be funny and a little hot to [TS]

00:09:30   the style of David Letterman because of [TS]

00:09:32   Letterman I I you know started watching [TS]

00:09:34   Ernie Kovacs reruns and again it even [TS]

00:09:39   though that was a show that was on [TS]

00:09:40   decades earlier it looked like something [TS]

00:09:42   should not be allowed on television [TS]

00:09:44   because if they would just do the the [TS]

00:09:46   these ridiculous things and and then [TS]

00:09:50   send them abruptly move on to something [TS]

00:09:51   else and and I think I think there's a [TS]

00:09:54   certain genre of a show that appeals to [TS]

00:09:57   that that mindset Merrill marco who is [TS]

00:10:01   his girlfriend and writer on the show [TS]

00:10:03   said hallelujah i mean we're delighted [TS]

00:10:07   to have these rules and restrictions [TS]

00:10:08   because it means we don't have to do the [TS]

00:10:11   Johnny Carson show means we were free to [TS]

00:10:13   go off and turn everything on its head [TS]

00:10:15   that's exactly what happened they may [TS]

00:10:17   have already been heading in that [TS]

00:10:18   direction the Carson's edict that the [TS]

00:10:20   Letterman Show not resemble his show [TS]

00:10:21   push them even further in the direction [TS]

00:10:24   of making this absurd unshown a talk [TS]

00:10:27   show that was a parody of itself [TS]

00:10:29   anyone who grew up understanding the [TS]

00:10:31   rules of television that even with [TS]

00:10:32   comedy it was serious business to be [TS]

00:10:35   undertaken by professionals would see [TS]

00:10:37   Letterman Show and not quite understand [TS]

00:10:38   what they were watching the man at the [TS]

00:10:40   desk was an affable Midwestern a blazer [TS]

00:10:43   tie and slacks but also tennis shoes and [TS]

00:10:46   his show was demolishing what we all [TS]

00:10:48   thought were the rules of american [TS]

00:10:50   television it was a pretty slippery [TS]

00:10:53   slope from 4-9 topical jokes in the [TS]

00:10:55   monologue in a small band to Paul [TS]

00:10:57   Shaffers rant storming out the door in [TS]

00:11:00   and chris elliott coming out from behind [TS]

00:11:03   the seats and Dave puttin on a suit of [TS]

00:11:05   sponges and jumping in a giant bowl of [TS]

00:11:08   rice krispies and so on [TS]

00:11:09   he decided he would raid everybody [TS]

00:11:11   else's talk show treasure chest first [TS]

00:11:14   and foremost Steve Allen but but also [TS]

00:11:17   you could definitely see Jack Paar and [TS]

00:11:20   of course his hero regis philbin all [TS]

00:11:23   wound up sort of on his stage because he [TS]

00:11:27   was under strict orders to tend to not [TS]

00:11:29   be Johnny and opened it worked out great [TS]

00:11:30   for him it's a weird-sounding analogy [TS]

00:11:33   but to me it makes a lot of senses to me [TS]

00:11:34   Letterman is a lot like quentin [TS]

00:11:37   tarantino in a way that Letterman to me [TS]

00:11:40   clearly internalized all those rules of [TS]

00:11:43   TV and he understood them specifically [TS]

00:11:45   as TV like he is just young enough that [TS]

00:11:49   he grew up with TV being the pervasive [TS]

00:11:52   ubiquitous influence in American culture [TS]

00:11:54   that it you know that [TS]

00:11:55   has been for at least since the fifties [TS]

00:11:57   whereas those rules of TV and like the [TS]

00:12:01   rules that like The Tonight Show [TS]

00:12:02   personified predate TV like the rules [TS]

00:12:05   for a variety show or sort of the same [TS]

00:12:07   as the rules for any kind of state show [TS]

00:12:09   like you know the Bonneville or anything [TS]

00:12:12   like that it's it's like a theater [TS]

00:12:15   production right the tonight show is [TS]

00:12:17   like it wouldn't be that different if it [TS]

00:12:20   wasn't being televised and it was just a [TS]

00:12:22   celebrity show that was put on for the [TS]

00:12:24   300 people in the studio audience [TS]

00:12:26   whereas what Letterman did was he [TS]

00:12:29   understood all those rules and could [TS]

00:12:31   just play with dance within the lines [TS]

00:12:33   and to me that's like what Tarantino [TS]

00:12:34   does with all of his genre movies where [TS]

00:12:36   he's internalized all these movies and [TS]

00:12:39   he makes his movies within the cracks of [TS]

00:12:41   those lines now I don't want to [TS]

00:12:43   overstate Letterman's influence here you [TS]

00:12:45   can point to plenty of rule-breaking [TS]

00:12:46   shows in the seventies and eighties [TS]

00:12:48   Monty Python's Flying Circus and [TS]

00:12:49   Saturday Night Live being two great [TS]

00:12:51   examples but i'd argue what made the [TS]

00:12:53   Letterman Show more shocking was that it [TS]

00:12:55   didn't look like an anarchic [TS]

00:12:57   sketch-comedy show it looks like a talk [TS]

00:12:59   show we understood what talk shows were [TS]

00:13:01   and this is what made it much more [TS]

00:13:03   subversive David Letterman didn't invent [TS]

00:13:06   irony and he he didn't even invented on [TS]

00:13:08   television that that was what is an [TS]

00:13:10   elder than the nineteen seventies what [TS]

00:13:11   was different about Letterman was that [TS]

00:13:13   he just made it so much more broadly [TS]

00:13:15   humorous and and accessible even though [TS]

00:13:19   he he famously you know didn't smile or [TS]

00:13:22   laugh at his own jokes except the mock [TS]

00:13:24   himself Letterman really was a lot [TS]

00:13:28   easier to take then you know mr. Mike or [TS]

00:13:32   or Eddie Murphy or any of the kind of [TS]

00:13:36   edgy or comics that grace the saturday [TS]

00:13:39   night live arena but but there's no [TS]

00:13:41   doubt that the reception of SNL whose [TS]

00:13:44   creator Lorne Michaels also never wanted [TS]

00:13:46   to be like Johnny Carson's show that [TS]

00:13:50   that really did set the stage for what [TS]

00:13:52   he did [TS]

00:13:53   india not co-writes about technology for [TS]

00:13:55   the Chicago sun-times among other places [TS]

00:13:56   and is one of the biggest david [TS]

00:13:59   letterman fans I know it's been said [TS]

00:14:01   very correctly that a lot of the things [TS]

00:14:04   that he brought to late-night had been [TS]

00:14:06   done by steve allen before the idea [TS]

00:14:08   we're going to [TS]

00:14:08   go on the street we're gonna do we're [TS]

00:14:10   gonna be sooo teabags and dumped into a [TS]

00:14:13   giant tank and make iced tea for [TS]

00:14:14   everybody yes Steve Allen did that but [TS]

00:14:16   the fact remains though that it's like [TS]

00:14:18   looking at the the first Macintosh just [TS]

00:14:20   like looking at the first iphone you can [TS]

00:14:21   see here is what everything looked like [TS]

00:14:23   to the before Letterman had a show and [TS]

00:14:26   then here's what everything looked like [TS]

00:14:27   after he had his first season uh late [TS]

00:14:30   night with david letterman and then you [TS]

00:14:32   can't say that they were that in 1983 [TS]

00:14:34   1984 people were suddenly discovering [TS]

00:14:37   steve allen and raping him [TS]

00:14:39   it really was Letterman who brought this [TS]

00:14:41   into a modern sensibility and I'm sure [TS]

00:14:44   there's a lot of other things about [TS]

00:14:45   going on a society of that time that [TS]

00:14:47   sort of beg for a skeptical no jaundiced [TS]

00:14:50   eye on things that were big in the [TS]

00:14:52   seventies this is the reagan-era this [TS]

00:14:55   was a factor era and so you're sort of [TS]

00:14:57   promoting the idea of let's just go with [TS]

00:15:00   the assumption that if if the previous [TS]

00:15:01   generation thought that was the coolest [TS]

00:15:02   thing ever [TS]

00:15:04   maybe we can just sort of step back from [TS]

00:15:05   it and tear apart a little bit but again [TS]

00:15:08   everything changed after Letterman and [TS]

00:15:10   it wasn't because of stood a delayed [TS]

00:15:12   fuse on Steve Allen tonight show all [TS]

00:15:14   right now I wish I could say that I got [TS]

00:15:16   in on the ground floor of this one but I [TS]

00:15:17   didn't I was nine years old when the [TS]

00:15:19   morning shows on the air and 11-1 late [TS]

00:15:21   night with david letterman premier now I [TS]

00:15:23   have a distinct memory a first seeing [TS]

00:15:26   late night in a hotel room in [TS]

00:15:27   Pennsylvania we were there for my [TS]

00:15:28   mother's 25th highschool reunion and my [TS]

00:15:31   parents were downstairs the party late [TS]

00:15:32   into the night I fell asleep i think [TS]

00:15:34   with the hotel room TV on [TS]

00:15:36   I woke up maybe when they were coming [TS]

00:15:37   back from the party i don't know but [TS]

00:15:39   there was this strange gap-toothed man [TS]

00:15:41   who was definitely not Johnny Carson [TS]

00:15:44   doing strange things on television I did [TS]

00:15:46   not understand it it wasn't until about [TS]

00:15:48   three years later maybe 1985 when I [TS]

00:15:51   began to understand the appeal of David [TS]

00:15:53   Letterman the thing is I have no clear [TS]

00:15:55   memory of how i went from not [TS]

00:15:57   understanding him to taping his show [TS]

00:15:58   every single night but John Gruber story [TS]

00:16:01   is probably not too far off from mine [TS]

00:16:03   i'll tell you what i remember there is a [TS]

00:16:06   very vivid memories of this so i was [TS]

00:16:09   born in 1973 and at some point in the [TS]

00:16:13   eighties there was a show hosted on it [TS]

00:16:17   was on NBC and was hosted by admin man [TS]

00:16:19   and Dick Clark [TS]

00:16:20   it's like to clark and McMahon's [TS]

00:16:22   bloopers and practical jokes and for [TS]

00:16:26   whatever reason it you know it passed [TS]

00:16:28   the test in my household and sisters two [TS]

00:16:30   years younger than me and my mom were 33 [TS]

00:16:32   would watch TV together tonight because [TS]

00:16:34   my dad worked third shift so and we all [TS]

00:16:36   liked it and on this show they would [TS]

00:16:38   occasionally have bits from late night [TS]

00:16:41   with david letterman they would just [TS]

00:16:43   like some of the remote bits that he did [TS]

00:16:45   would they would just show them on to [TS]

00:16:47   fill space on the the dick target at [TS]

00:16:49   mcmahon show NBC had like an hour to [TS]

00:16:51   fill and Dick Clark in a big man we're [TS]

00:16:53   happy to do it and so they would fill it [TS]

00:16:55   with Letterman bit sometimes not every [TS]

00:16:57   week but every once in awhile they have [TS]

00:16:58   a bit from the Letterman Show that would [TS]

00:17:00   make sense at eight o'clock and they [TS]

00:17:02   were the best things in my opinion and [TS]

00:17:05   and part of what made it great was that [TS]

00:17:06   Letterman himself wasn't anywhere near [TS]

00:17:08   his famous he had his own 1230 talk show [TS]

00:17:10   but he he could go out in public and not [TS]

00:17:12   be mobbed and it was Letterman and a [TS]

00:17:14   camera crew going around Manhattan to [TS]

00:17:17   find diners and every one of these [TS]

00:17:20   places had a sign in the window that [TS]

00:17:22   said best coffee in New York it was just [TS]

00:17:24   Letterman going in with a camera guy and [TS]

00:17:27   telling them hey you know there's a [TS]

00:17:29   place two doors down down the street and [TS]

00:17:31   says best coffee in New York the [TS]

00:17:33   reactions were all across the board like [TS]

00:17:35   some people like to be like it just like [TS]

00:17:36   an old Greek guy ran the place and be [TS]

00:17:38   like no my coffee the best but he would [TS]

00:17:40   be insistent like it wasn't just that he [TS]

00:17:42   put the sign up just you know like [TS]

00:17:44   instead of just saying hot coffee they [TS]

00:17:45   all there was just a thing and Letterman [TS]

00:17:48   made it hilarious and that is it made me [TS]

00:17:50   want to desperately made me want to [TS]

00:17:52   watch his 1230 show which has like an 11 [TS]

00:17:57   to 12 year old was sort of a stretch it [TS]

00:17:59   would have had been after nineteen [TS]

00:18:01   eighty-four cuz that's when we got a VCR [TS]

00:18:03   in our house and um I had seen you know [TS]

00:18:07   the clips the wacky stunts and the the [TS]

00:18:09   thrill cam and monkey cam and and that [TS]

00:18:13   that sort of jives with my my [TS]

00:18:15   sensibility at the time and the first [TS]

00:18:18   episode I remember taping I believe the [TS]

00:18:22   stump that night was they were following [TS]

00:18:25   the Australian Stock Exchange throughout [TS]

00:18:28   the program and and and so there was [TS]

00:18:30   this ticker of [TS]

00:18:31   australian stocks uh like running [TS]

00:18:35   throughout the program and occasionally [TS]

00:18:37   Paul Shaffer they invested in the [TS]

00:18:39   company and Paul Shaffer would [TS]

00:18:40   occasionally scream oh god were ruined [TS]

00:18:43   whenever the the price drops so I i [TS]

00:18:46   remember that bit and you know that that [TS]

00:18:48   worked for me I thought that was great [TS]

00:18:51   those bits what was so effective about [TS]

00:18:54   them of course was that a generation [TS]

00:18:56   could claim them as their own right [TS]

00:18:57   stupid pet tricks and Dave in the velcro [TS]

00:19:01   suit and chris elliott and Biff [TS]

00:19:05   Henderson and everybody Melman right and [TS]

00:19:08   Larry bud melman handing out hot towels [TS]

00:19:11   to arriving visitors at the Port [TS]

00:19:13   Authority Bus Terminal and showing it [TS]

00:19:14   amazingly bad microphone technique all I [TS]

00:19:17   found so endearing it yeah how long have [TS]

00:19:21   you been [TS]

00:19:23   he was just priceless I must have seen [TS]

00:19:26   it before this one episode that sticks [TS]

00:19:30   out in my mind but the episode that [TS]

00:19:31   really sticks out was the was one in [TS]

00:19:33   which it's open the opening shot is of [TS]

00:19:36   the audience leaving this leaving the [TS]

00:19:38   studio and just a shot of letterman in [TS]

00:19:41   his office saying that look it's that at [TS]

00:19:44   the door of his office saying it's just [TS]

00:19:45   too hot to do a regular show so we we've [TS]

00:19:48   sent the audience home and they did the [TS]

00:19:50   entire thing legit inside his office [TS]

00:19:52   where Paul Shaffer had a little pistol [TS]

00:19:55   casio keyboard work on his lap that is [TS]

00:19:58   Terry car was the cast and yet he had [TS]

00:20:01   her like basically older brother little [TS]

00:20:03   sister berated her into like taking a [TS]

00:20:05   shower [TS]

00:20:06   you know even though like the shower [TS]

00:20:08   doors had it in his office then cover up [TS]

00:20:10   towels you can see anything she clearly [TS]

00:20:12   was like not interested in doing that [TS]

00:20:14   but was just so justjust attitude to [TS]

00:20:17   stop talking about it but this was the [TS]

00:20:19   one that really made me into a letterman [TS]

00:20:21   fan just realizing that my god this is [TS]

00:20:25   nothing like anything I had seen on any [TS]

00:20:28   other show all kinds of respect for for [TS]

00:20:31   the Carson show but it was a format that [TS]

00:20:35   had been really locked in for at that it [TS]

00:20:38   must be the early eighties mid 80 so [TS]

00:20:40   this has been like at least two decades [TS]

00:20:41   and they they don't tamper with that [TS]

00:20:43   format the idea that you have [TS]

00:20:45   talk show where they would do something [TS]

00:20:46   as wild as this just got this block me [TS]

00:20:50   into becoming a lifelong Letterman fan I [TS]

00:20:52   remember the first time I actually [TS]

00:20:53   watched late night with the actual show [TS]

00:20:55   and it was a similar type situation [TS]

00:20:58   right you know still wasn't allowed to [TS]

00:21:00   stay up that late at home i was on a [TS]

00:21:02   field trip to Washington DC and I was in [TS]

00:21:08   sixth grade so I must have been like [TS]

00:21:10   around 12 and you know like typical [TS]

00:21:13   sixth-graders we were up we're wired you [TS]

00:21:15   know wide awake and it got to be 1230 I [TS]

00:21:18   think we're watching HBO I think well I [TS]

00:21:20   actually i think i actually specifically [TS]

00:21:22   remember the HBO movie we watched it was [TS]

00:21:25   a chuck norris Vietnam movie i think it [TS]

00:21:28   was missing in action it was an HBO [TS]

00:21:29   movie it was rated R so it felt like we [TS]

00:21:32   were already getting away with something [TS]

00:21:33   in a bunch of sixth grade boys in a [TS]

00:21:35   hotel room and then the the the movie [TS]

00:21:38   was over and I realize holy shit it's [TS]

00:21:41   1230 we can watch shut the Letterman [TS]

00:21:43   Show and I've always wanted to watch it [TS]

00:21:44   and the show had already started it must [TS]

00:21:46   have been about 10 minutes in and my [TS]

00:21:48   friends bed net didn't even had never [TS]

00:21:50   even heard of it [TS]

00:21:51   they didn't even know what it was they [TS]

00:21:52   they were you know more or less of the [TS]

00:21:54   opinion that we should look for another [TS]

00:21:56   Chuck Norris movie because we've got HBO [TS]

00:21:58   right where it is hotel room with HBO so [TS]

00:22:00   I flip to NBC and I remember exactly [TS]

00:22:03   what was on it was a monkey cam they had [TS]

00:22:07   a monkey strapped our camera strapped to [TS]

00:22:09   a monkey and he was running around the [TS]

00:22:12   studio and they were the footage was [TS]

00:22:14   first person perspective from this [TS]

00:22:15   monkey that they had set loose in the [TS]

00:22:17   studio and I thought it was amazing i [TS]

00:22:21   was like this is the type of stuff I [TS]

00:22:22   thought would be on the show and my [TS]

00:22:23   friends were like what the hell is this [TS]

00:22:25   grouper we got it were turning this off [TS]

00:22:27   and I no no and I thought it was and the [TS]

00:22:30   only good get let me have like three or [TS]

00:22:32   four minutes of it and then it would [TS]

00:22:33   Dave they were like this makes no sense [TS]

00:22:35   we're turning it off [TS]

00:22:36   we're switching whatever it was a monkey [TS]

00:22:39   camp first time they don't like I saw [TS]

00:22:41   the monkey cam doesn't i was like oh my [TS]

00:22:43   god that's not this gel yeah like this [TS]

00:22:46   is great or or just like the idea that a [TS]

00:22:49   grown man says you know what what if we [TS]

00:22:51   dropped a bunch of stuff off a building [TS]

00:22:52   let's just do it let's just shoot that [TS]

00:22:54   you learned that there was stuff in the [TS]

00:22:56   past but he was he really did become the [TS]

00:22:58   map [TS]

00:22:58   sir of the tapes segment and I think [TS]

00:23:01   more so than anybody think he's you know [TS]

00:23:04   if he wasn't the original idea for it [TS]

00:23:07   he certainly was the person who who [TS]

00:23:09   honed it and who mastered it and of [TS]

00:23:11   course now that's all we think about [TS]

00:23:13   with late night is that it's like the [TS]

00:23:14   video bits that they're taped and then [TS]

00:23:16   or not I guess sitting behind a desk or [TS]

00:23:20   even like a Carson moment at the desk [TS]

00:23:21   with karan tacker something like that [TS]

00:23:24   it's all Letterman's tape this everybody [TS]

00:23:26   does those now so that and to be there [TS]

00:23:28   when that happens was great [TS]

00:23:30   attaching a monkey to a camera and [TS]

00:23:32   having it run through the studio keeps [TS]

00:23:34   coming up I remember distinctly the [TS]

00:23:37   first time to show try this it didn't [TS]

00:23:39   work because they got a small monkey and [TS]

00:23:41   the camera was too heavy to get a bigger [TS]

00:23:43   monkey eventually ended up with a chimp [TS]

00:23:45   named zippy anyway the comedy bits are [TS]

00:23:48   definitely what linger in the memory an [TS]

00:23:50   entire show done on an airplane [TS]

00:23:52   cresselia its various characters the guy [TS]

00:23:54   into the seats the suit of suet elevator [TS]

00:23:58   races in 30 rock interrupting the live [TS]

00:24:01   at five News set across the hall but the [TS]

00:24:03   core of the show of any talk show the [TS]

00:24:06   interviews [TS]

00:24:07   those were subversive to in their own [TS]

00:24:09   way you didn't suffer fools and that was [TS]

00:24:11   really knew on late-night that's that [TS]

00:24:13   that's the thing [TS]

00:24:15   so to treat him to give you a look like [TS]

00:24:16   you just being the idiot now right [TS]

00:24:19   he would make people embarrassed if they [TS]

00:24:21   did something embarrassed in their life [TS]

00:24:23   he was like okay you're not going to [TS]

00:24:25   actually walk onto my show and not [TS]

00:24:27   pretend you didn't make this book where [TS]

00:24:30   you know you're you're naked in it or [TS]

00:24:32   whatever you know you you can't come [TS]

00:24:35   here and pretend that this embarrassing [TS]

00:24:37   thing that it's been in the news didn't [TS]

00:24:39   happen i'm gonna ask you about it and I [TS]

00:24:40   love that you know and so you know been [TS]

00:24:42   Billy Idol kaymar came out and he was [TS]

00:24:44   like doing this whole thing about how [TS]

00:24:47   rock and roll in blood what he was and [TS]

00:24:49   then let us look at them like you just [TS]

00:24:51   absurd ass basically and then he says [TS]

00:24:54   that he sees oh yeah drugs running and [TS]

00:24:56   he's like your parents must be very [TS]

00:24:57   proud [TS]

00:24:58   it's just really pleasant person is like [TS]

00:25:00   but you know i like that that you're the [TS]

00:25:02   host of a late night show at that time [TS]

00:25:04   you think when you hear they are to [TS]

00:25:05   promote their movie or a book or [TS]

00:25:07   whatever and he just wasn't having it [TS]

00:25:08   so I'll [TS]

00:25:09   that and it and it was just it felt like [TS]

00:25:11   fresh anything can happen why are they [TS]

00:25:12   allowing this to happen and then that [TS]

00:25:14   that um uh really uh touches a button in [TS]

00:25:19   the the teenage anarchist mind that yeah [TS]

00:25:22   we're getting away with something here [TS]

00:25:24   that that a guy can put on an [TS]

00:25:25   alka-seltzer suit and and or or a Velcro [TS]

00:25:30   suit and put that on TV and sometimes [TS]

00:25:33   that even when the jokes fall flat is as [TS]

00:25:35   they often get in the monologue it it [TS]

00:25:37   had a whole of sense that someone had [TS]

00:25:40   snuck into a studio and was doing a show [TS]

00:25:42   and the network people didn't quite [TS]

00:25:46   understand it again another great bit [TS]

00:25:50   that I think really cemented that show [TS]

00:25:54   with me was when GE bought NBC and and [TS]

00:25:57   they brought the fruit basket and it [TS]

00:25:59   just went disastrously with the with the [TS]

00:26:02   GE handshake [TS]

00:26:03   uh-huh so ya I i would agree with your [TS]

00:26:07   theory that at a certain age you want to [TS]

00:26:10   see TV that doesn't feel like it should [TS]

00:26:12   be TV i think for people who are younger [TS]

00:26:15   than me and therefore awful conan [TS]

00:26:18   o'brien did that with the that the [TS]

00:26:21   various bits that that we're kind of [TS]

00:26:23   confusing to me because I was an old man [TS]

00:26:25   by the time conan o'brien it is stride [TS]

00:26:27   oh yes conan o'brien now that name [TS]

00:26:30   brings up a couple of different areas in [TS]

00:26:32   which NBC managed to cause intense drama [TS]

00:26:35   in the programming of late-night [TS]

00:26:36   television more about that moment after [TS]

00:26:39   we hear from our next sponsor this week [TS]

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00:27:18   management mail route supports ldap and [TS]

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00:27:27   card just signup change your MX records [TS]

00:27:29   so they're pointing at mail route [TS]

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00:27:33   are completely protected it's so simple [TS]

00:27:35   and effective there's no good reason not [TS]

00:27:36   to try it because there's a risk-free [TS]

00:27:38   trial always miss the uncomfortable [TS]

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00:27:42   of your account go to mail route dotnet [TS]

00:27:43   / incomparable now and thank you to mail [TS]

00:27:46   route for sponsoring uncomfortable your [TS]

00:27:53   friend your friend of yours is taking [TS]

00:27:55   over here next May so you want to [TS]

00:27:58   address this [TS]

00:27:59   hello yang to address it's a it's a no [TS]

00:28:02   I'm not angry I'm not angry at NBC about [TS]

00:28:06   this night not angry at jay leno about [TS]

00:28:09   this not not angry at you or the tonight [TS]

00:28:11   show about this i mean realistically if [TS]

00:28:14   it were not for you I wouldn't wouldn't [TS]

00:28:16   have a show then you know I wouldn't [TS]

00:28:18   have socks actually 43 and now even if [TS]

00:28:23   the network and come to me and they say [TS]

00:28:24   Dave would like you to have this show [TS]

00:28:26   and then then a week later they said [TS]

00:28:29   Dave we don't want you to have the show [TS]

00:28:31   then you could be angry about right but [TS]

00:28:34   I have a show if you do and an NBC can [TS]

00:28:38   can do whatever they want with the show [TS]

00:28:39   so i was i was never never angry now [TS]

00:28:42   would I would I like to have the show [TS]

00:28:44   whole sure [TS]

00:28:47   Johnny Carson retired in 1992 and NBC [TS]

00:28:51   have a choice to make [TS]

00:28:52   jay leno had been Carson's permanent [TS]

00:28:54   guest host for years but Letterman had [TS]

00:28:56   been his host and waiting for a decade [TS]

00:28:59   so who did NBC one on the air at [TS]

00:29:00   eleven-thirty david letterman worshipped [TS]

00:29:03   Johnny Carson The Tonight Show was his [TS]

00:29:05   dream job and NBC chose the other guy [TS]

00:29:08   the guy who would really come to [TS]

00:29:10   prominence in large part to his [TS]

00:29:12   appearances on Late Night with David [TS]

00:29:14   Letterman he was this treasure this [TS]

00:29:18   national treasure two millions of his [TS]

00:29:20   fans who felt the insult of Dave's being [TS]

00:29:24   turned down for The Tonight Show gig and [TS]

00:29:28   it being given to the schmoll jay leno [TS]

00:29:30   whose reputation had been just in the [TS]

00:29:34   sewer until his good friend dave pull [TS]

00:29:37   them up and said Jay I know you bombed [TS]

00:29:40   hosting the Tonight Show for Johnny but [TS]

00:29:43   here come on over and I'll have you do [TS]

00:29:46   your wheel what's your beef on my show [TS]

00:29:48   and and folks love you and Jay was so so [TS]

00:29:53   grateful for this favor that Dave didn't [TS]

00:29:56   he began stabbing him in the back [TS]

00:29:59   I remember um liking window at one point [TS]

00:30:02   when he was a regular guest on later use [TS]

00:30:05   a good levy was a really good Letterman [TS]

00:30:07   guests in fact I still um when my I [TS]

00:30:10   still quote a thing from one of the the [TS]

00:30:13   leno appearances whenever my wife lisa [TS]

00:30:18   is is complaining about something all [TS]

00:30:20   it's the so have we reached the what's [TS]

00:30:22   your beef part of the program which is [TS]

00:30:24   what he said to Solano and even when he [TS]

00:30:27   was on the guest host on the the tonight [TS]

00:30:29   show it was it was still pretty [TS]

00:30:31   hey this is neat because it's it's [TS]

00:30:33   someone who's young and has a has a has [TS]

00:30:36   a worldview not unlike our own and and [TS]

00:30:39   then he became the the the host through [TS]

00:30:42   you know [TS]

00:30:43   Makka nations we weren't privy to at the [TS]

00:30:46   time but it just seemed some middle of [TS]

00:30:48   the road and and and watered down and [TS]

00:30:52   the end over the years you you just felt [TS]

00:30:55   every last edge of [TS]

00:30:57   take 10 being buffered off until he was [TS]

00:31:00   a bowling ball basically i think the the [TS]

00:31:03   transition from Carson Letterman would [TS]

00:31:05   have been fine from Carson's point of [TS]

00:31:07   view because I one gets the the [TS]

00:31:10   impression from reading biographies to [TS]

00:31:13   to the extent that Carson he had a yet [TS]

00:31:16   more of a a bond with with Letterman i [TS]

00:31:18   think but it would it's very hard to [TS]

00:31:22   replace Carson and it's very hard to as [TS]

00:31:25   Conan O'Brien found it's very hard to [TS]

00:31:27   step into this 1130 time slot where [TS]

00:31:31   you're entertaining my dad who has [TS]

00:31:35   stayed awake through the evening news [TS]

00:31:36   and just want something not terribly [TS]

00:31:39   threatening or challenging to to come on [TS]

00:31:42   the air now my feeling about which I'll [TS]

00:31:44   say more in a minute is that we all [TS]

00:31:47   dodged a bullet when NBC shows jay leno [TS]

00:31:48   over David Letterman for the tonight [TS]

00:31:50   show with Erin Barnhart pointed out to [TS]

00:31:52   me that if we knew then what we know now [TS]

00:31:54   about the composition of TV audiences [TS]

00:31:56   things might have actually turned out [TS]

00:31:58   much differently not just for Leno and [TS]

00:32:00   Letterman but maybe even for Johnny [TS]

00:32:01   Carson we don't know because [TS]

00:32:03   demographics were not widely circulated [TS]

00:32:06   in the nineteen eighties they're not [TS]

00:32:09   even widely measured really until the [TS]

00:32:11   nineteen nineties but the market [TS]

00:32:13   research that NBC did internally showed [TS]

00:32:16   that within a very short period of time [TS]

00:32:18   younger people were preferring Letterman [TS]

00:32:21   Carson and this was driving all kinds of [TS]

00:32:25   advertising sales and really whether it [TS]

00:32:30   was true in public or not there was a [TS]

00:32:33   genuine business competition going on [TS]

00:32:36   now between the 1130 and 1230 shows on [TS]

00:32:39   NBC late-night and and this is the thing [TS]

00:32:41   that people don't always think about but [TS]

00:32:44   had that kind of demographic research [TS]

00:32:46   been done in 1990 1991 1992 the time [TS]

00:32:52   when Jay Leno and his manager Helen [TS]

00:32:56   Kushnick we're making the big press for [TS]

00:32:58   him to succeed Johnny Carson as the host [TS]

00:33:02   of the tonight show what if Dave's camp [TS]

00:33:05   had been able to point to those sheets [TS]

00:33:08   of demographics and the news media had [TS]

00:33:11   access to that kind of research showing [TS]

00:33:13   that among 18 to 34 year old male [TS]

00:33:16   viewers dave was beating the pants off a [TS]

00:33:19   book Johnny and Jay how would late-night [TS]

00:33:22   history have been different if if that [TS]

00:33:24   kind of data that we now take for [TS]

00:33:27   granted had been widely circulated that [TS]

00:33:31   now but that's not how it went [TS]

00:33:33   Letterman went to CBS which at the time [TS]

00:33:35   was still looking its wounds from its [TS]

00:33:36   attempt to launch the Pat Sajak show ya [TS]

00:33:38   the guy from wheel of fortune against [TS]

00:33:40   Johnny Carson I remember the front page [TS]

00:33:42   of the newspaper the day that David [TS]

00:33:44   Letterman announced he was making the [TS]

00:33:45   move [TS]

00:33:46   here's a picture of david letterman and [TS]

00:33:48   behind him is the CBS logo the picture [TS]

00:33:50   said it all the classy blackrock CBS I [TS]

00:33:54   all in all an ivory yeah its iconic [TS]

00:33:57   picture and it was a great triumph it [TS]

00:33:59   was a great triumph for CBS it really [TS]

00:34:02   change the fortunes of the network in [TS]

00:34:04   hindsight I think it makes him it makes [TS]

00:34:07   his career seemed more accomplished [TS]

00:34:08   because he was the first person to [TS]

00:34:11   successfully create a arrival to the [TS]

00:34:14   tonight show when he moved to CBS he was [TS]

00:34:16   going to an organization that [TS]

00:34:17   desperately wanted him and was really [TS]

00:34:19   eager to make make it very clear how [TS]

00:34:21   much they wanted them wanted him more [TS]

00:34:23   than that they were giving him ownership [TS]

00:34:25   of the show so at no point could the [TS]

00:34:28   network say we're doing it this way we [TS]

00:34:30   say we want you to do it that way they [TS]

00:34:32   can't fire him and replace them they can [TS]

00:34:33   cancel the show but that's certainly [TS]

00:34:34   something that the they certainly [TS]

00:34:36   understood at the time to BS had nothing [TS]

00:34:38   going on in late night and here came [TS]

00:34:40   David Letterman with the chance to be a [TS]

00:34:41   hero he could create an entirely new and [TS]

00:34:44   hugely profitable business for CBS and [TS]

00:34:46   do it while staying in New York [TS]

00:34:48   continuing to play the underdog and [TS]

00:34:50   righteously rage against NBC and all the [TS]

00:34:53   while doing a version of his old show in [TS]

00:34:56   a new place instead of trying to be [TS]

00:34:57   Johnny Carson under the eyes of some NBC [TS]

00:35:00   executives with questionable judgment [TS]

00:35:02   and itchy trigger fingers [TS]

00:35:04   well I a 1000% agree with that because [TS]

00:35:06   look even when counting out the job it's [TS]

00:35:09   like be careful what you wish for [TS]

00:35:10   and he always wanted to be in that chair [TS]

00:35:12   do you want to be in that chair yet [TS]

00:35:13   because you have to [TS]

00:35:14   there was only one Carson and then after [TS]

00:35:15   that you had to be Leno and and you [TS]

00:35:18   couldn't have any sharp edges there was [TS]

00:35:20   no right angles and Letterman is alright [TS]

00:35:22   giggles so it's like you're totally [TS]

00:35:24   right he got to stay in New York where [TS]

00:35:25   he belongs and he got to be bitter and [TS]

00:35:28   he did his stuff his stuff where he was [TS]

00:35:31   made fun of the NBC when he was on NBC [TS]

00:35:33   was great and even when he went to CBS [TS]

00:35:34   making fun of me bc was even better so I [TS]

00:35:37   it definitely worked out for the best of [TS]

00:35:39   44 late night I think and who knows how [TS]

00:35:42   it would have worked on a long run but [TS]

00:35:43   he's on the record i know as having said [TS]

00:35:46   that if he had gotten the tonight show [TS]

00:35:48   which he definitely wanted his plan was [TS]

00:35:50   definitely did you know keep it was go [TS]

00:35:53   out to burbank and more or less do the [TS]

00:35:58   Tonight Show as it was no like he would [TS]

00:36:00   just be taking over and doing it and you [TS]

00:36:03   know and he had guest-hosted before and [TS]

00:36:06   you know Jay Leno and guest I mean you [TS]

00:36:08   know more or less jay leno just turned [TS]

00:36:10   his weekly guest hosting gig into what [TS]

00:36:13   he did and let me know Letterman plan to [TS]

00:36:15   do the same as an institution that he [TS]

00:36:16   just thought you couldn't you you [TS]

00:36:18   couldn't mess with that letter was the [TS]

00:36:20   perfect choice for the tonight show [TS]

00:36:21   Jimmy Fallon also the perfect choice [TS]

00:36:23   with tonight show because this is the [TS]

00:36:25   comfort food part of the time show after [TS]

00:36:29   after Carson it was never going to be [TS]

00:36:32   the tonight show after that Jerry [TS]

00:36:34   Seinfeld had a very very smart thing to [TS]

00:36:36   say and I think Bill Carter second book [TS]

00:36:38   about the second NBC late-night crisis [TS]

00:36:41   saying that what none of us understood [TS]

00:36:44   was that when Carson left the tonight [TS]

00:36:46   show he took the tonight show with him [TS]

00:36:48   and so this beat stop becoming an iconic [TS]

00:36:50   show and started becoming the deliverer [TS]

00:36:53   of ratings and the the golden arches [TS]

00:36:56   that people would think of as a familiar [TS]

00:36:58   and okay this is a safe place to stop [TS]

00:37:00   from 1130-1230 to do really innovative [TS]

00:37:03   stuff you're gonna have to go to comedy [TS]

00:37:04   central going to go to CBS you even have [TS]

00:37:06   to go to TBS because it's not going to [TS]

00:37:08   happen that between eleven-thirty and [TS]

00:37:10   1230 at NBC now looking back I can see [TS]

00:37:14   why NBC gave the tonight show to jay [TS]

00:37:16   leno I really can [TS]

00:37:18   Dave have an approach to television it [TS]

00:37:21   was a gorilla approach there was a [TS]

00:37:24   take-no-prisoners of quality to it and [TS]

00:37:28   despite the fact that he always wanted [TS]

00:37:30   to be the next Johnny Carson he was just [TS]

00:37:33   never able to effectively suppress that [TS]

00:37:35   it was [TS]

00:37:36   really part of his humor it was part of [TS]

00:37:38   his appeal and for better for worse it's [TS]

00:37:40   it's what made him effective but it [TS]

00:37:45   always meant that he wasn't going to get [TS]

00:37:47   the NBC job and it probably didn't mean [TS]

00:37:49   he was a better personality to launch a [TS]

00:37:53   late-night talk-show franchise and [TS]

00:37:56   another network which is a tremendous [TS]

00:37:59   legacy for him at CBS as much as a [TS]

00:38:03   letterman sort of true in wasn't doing [TS]

00:38:07   quite the late-night stuff once you got [TS]

00:38:08   the late show on CBS [TS]

00:38:10   he was still doing odd and unusual [TS]

00:38:12   things like will it float not on to [TS]

00:38:17   where I i don't think that would have [TS]

00:38:19   gone over like a led zep 144 the tonight [TS]

00:38:22   show's audience of my parents who are [TS]

00:38:25   easily confused [TS]

00:38:26   yeah it's it's ridiculous we have no [TS]

00:38:28   right to feel any sense of ownership [TS]

00:38:29   about that but it did feel great to know [TS]

00:38:32   that Letterman did not have to inherit [TS]

00:38:35   his dad's show he was able to create his [TS]

00:38:39   own business and his own business being [TS]

00:38:41   incredibly successful in and of itself i [TS]

00:38:43   think that I thought that was a great [TS]

00:38:44   validation that Leno or jimmy fallon [TS]

00:38:48   they really do need to have that name [TS]

00:38:51   brand on their show they need to have [TS]

00:38:53   that legacy in order to have a [TS]

00:38:55   successful show they need to have that [TS]

00:38:56   the power of that brand behind them [TS]

00:38:58   whereas Letterman is his own brand [TS]

00:39:00   he brings his own staff he brings its [TS]

00:39:02   own sensibility as a nominal [TS]

00:39:05   editor-in-chief of his entire show [TS]

00:39:07   he takes his own sensibility with him [TS]

00:39:10   it's hard even to imagine the the kind [TS]

00:39:13   of excitement but but even then you know [TS]

00:39:15   we were in a 40-channel world with cable [TS]

00:39:18   TV but but most of what you saw on cable [TS]

00:39:20   TV was reruns in fact the e-channel at [TS]

00:39:22   that moment was on a nightly basis [TS]

00:39:25   showing an old Letterman repeat from his [TS]

00:39:28   from his NBC late-night days so there [TS]

00:39:31   was still precious little original [TS]

00:39:34   programming on TV especially in late [TS]

00:39:37   night and so the idea that CBS was now [TS]

00:39:40   going to also do a late night program [TS]

00:39:42   and the David Letterman was going to be [TS]

00:39:44   hosting I mean my god the world almost [TS]

00:39:47   stopped on its axis for about an hour [TS]

00:39:49   they're Letterman not getting the job [TS]

00:39:51   and and going out and just being himself [TS]

00:39:53   and being in New York that's when you [TS]

00:39:55   you create your followers and that's [TS]

00:39:58   when you he really showed that to true [TS]

00:40:01   genius he was and it clearly rubbed off [TS]

00:40:03   on so many so many other people for [TS]

00:40:05   late-night to me of course there'll [TS]

00:40:07   never be anything quite as exciting as [TS]

00:40:10   as seen David Letterman take the stage [TS]

00:40:12   for the first time it at CBS and [TS]

00:40:14   transform that you know rundown old [TS]

00:40:17   theater into it into a television shrine [TS]

00:40:20   again and entertain America but but also [TS]

00:40:26   entertain me to feel like almost like a [TS]

00:40:29   victory or graduation or something that [TS]

00:40:30   moment of like what we knew it all along [TS]

00:40:32   and now here it is [TS]

00:40:33   we knew it all along yes when David [TS]

00:40:36   Letterman took over at CBS it really did [TS]

00:40:37   feel like that David Letterman got the [TS]

00:40:39   1130 timeslot you got to keep doing his [TS]

00:40:41   show instead of moving to California to [TS]

00:40:43   stand in for Johnny Carson and the [TS]

00:40:45   initial ratings were huge [TS]

00:40:47   it felt like validation after all those [TS]

00:40:50   years of cult status but the late show [TS]

00:40:52   with david letterman wasn't late night [TS]

00:40:54   it was something different something on [TS]

00:40:56   a bigger stage literally and [TS]

00:40:58   figuratively more about that after our [TS]

00:41:01   word from our next sponsor [TS]

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00:41:39   of latex foam and memory foam if you've [TS]

00:41:41   had a bad memory foam experienced before [TS]

00:41:43   that's why the latex foam is there a [TS]

00:41:45   latex foam makes it feel really good but [TS]

00:41:48   you still get the support of the memory [TS]

00:41:49   foam and here's the thing you don't need [TS]

00:41:51   to listen to me you can try yourself [TS]

00:41:53   they've got a risk-free trial and return [TS]

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00:41:59   try it out for a hundred days and if [TS]

00:42:00   you're not happy they will pick it back [TS]

00:42:02   up so no risk gives you every reason to [TS]

00:42:04   give it a try pretty pretty cool i got [TS]

00:42:07   my box open it up and expanded to fill [TS]

00:42:09   the space comes in a shockingly small [TS]

00:42:11   box and we swapped out our old king size [TS]

00:42:14   for a new queen size casper and it's [TS]

00:42:17   been great we got a new bed frame to go [TS]

00:42:20   around the castro mattress it's [TS]

00:42:21   completely you know changed the design [TS]

00:42:23   of our bedroom having this really nice [TS]

00:42:25   mattress has been great the cat no [TS]

00:42:27   longer flies off the the mattress when I [TS]

00:42:29   said on one side it's not a trampoline [TS]

00:42:30   anymore it's a comfortable mattress [TS]

00:42:32   finally thank you Casper $500 for twin [TS]

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00:42:49   thank you to Casper for sponsoring the [TS]

00:42:51   incompetent [TS]

00:42:52   as some of you may know for the last [TS]

00:43:00   year and a half I've kind of been [TS]

00:43:03   interested in doing a show little [TS]

00:43:05   earlier than the one I'm doing now and [TS]

00:43:07   that reality has come to pass for today [TS]

00:43:10   settlement dinner in New York City [TS]

00:43:16   so we win David Letterman is the new [TS]

00:43:19   king of late night jay leno is [TS]

00:43:20   vanquished all those people who love the [TS]

00:43:22   guy under the seats in the suit of [TS]

00:43:23   alka-seltzer in the GE handshake and [TS]

00:43:25   declare victory graduate from college [TS]

00:43:28   and get a real job [TS]

00:43:30   the end [TS]

00:43:32   I'll but life goes on there's no such [TS]

00:43:34   thing as the end of history Letterman's [TS]

00:43:36   victory was just the start of two [TS]

00:43:38   decades at CBS and the show was not the [TS]

00:43:41   same similar but not the sentient being [TS]

00:43:44   a big Broadway theater made Dave play [TS]

00:43:48   big to play to the audience and in a way [TS]

00:43:52   that the tiny little studio that late [TS]

00:43:54   night was in in Rockefeller Center when [TS]

00:43:57   he was on NBC let him play small and [TS]

00:44:00   there is there's a definite difference [TS]

00:44:02   in Dave's on-air persona both shows I [TS]

00:44:05   mean he talks about it as being one show [TS]

00:44:07   like and then when it and and in a sense [TS]

00:44:10   it is it's like two halves to the show [TS]

00:44:12   there's the half that was when it was a [TS]

00:44:14   1230 at NBC in a tiny little studio and [TS]

00:44:17   then there's the modern half starting in [TS]

00:44:18   93 where it's the flagship 1130 CBS show [TS]

00:44:22   in a big theater and he definitely has [TS]

00:44:25   his personality is the same but his [TS]

00:44:26   persona is different because he has to [TS]

00:44:28   have to play to the room I tend to think [TS]

00:44:31   of a letterman show a bit like John does [TS]

00:44:33   two halves of a career late night on one [TS]

00:44:35   side the late show on the other but [TS]

00:44:37   David Letterman's actually been doing [TS]

00:44:39   the late show on CBS for 22 years late [TS]

00:44:41   night with david levin was only on the [TS]

00:44:42   air for 11 [TS]

00:44:43   that's a third of the total the CBS [TS]

00:44:46   years account for two-thirds of the [TS]

00:44:47   output which is why sometimes i think [TS]

00:44:49   it's more accurate to think of [TS]

00:44:50   Letterman's career in thirds the first [TS]

00:44:52   third with the crazy innovative years at [TS]

00:44:54   NBC then the first decade or so at CBS [TS]

00:44:57   and finally the long slow fade now let's [TS]

00:45:01   take that middle section [TS]

00:45:02   it started with David number one in the [TS]

00:45:04   ratings but a few years in the lady fell [TS]

00:45:06   behind Jay Leno and really never caught [TS]

00:45:08   back up i have a talk with Donald Meyer [TS]

00:45:12   the NBC executive probably best known to [TS]

00:45:15   people of this podcast is the guy who [TS]

00:45:16   Yanks normal Donald off Weekend Update I [TS]

00:45:20   asked him I said this was after Leno had [TS]

00:45:22   taken back the lead in late night [TS]

00:45:24   ratings from Letterman and I said how [TS]

00:45:27   did you know it was Jay I mean how dave [TS]

00:45:32   was dominating time period and here's [TS]

00:45:35   what Meyer said we had done some polling [TS]

00:45:37   and we found that the type of person who [TS]

00:45:39   watches Johnny Carson typically watch [TS]

00:45:42   four nights a week which means you know [TS]

00:45:44   at that point [TS]

00:45:45   they were watching Johnny and at least [TS]

00:45:47   one guest host Jon never did more than [TS]

00:45:49   three nights in a week [TS]

00:45:51   the typical late-night viewer watch two [TS]

00:45:54   nights a week and what all my er [TS]

00:45:57   inferred from this was that Dave's [TS]

00:45:59   personality was not sufficiently warm [TS]

00:46:03   and relatable enough to engender nightly [TS]

00:46:08   viewing that that his viewers other than [TS]

00:46:12   superfans most viewers a little [TS]

00:46:15   Letterman went a long way that was one [TS]

00:46:17   of the data points he used in deciding [TS]

00:46:19   that jay leno who by that point had [TS]

00:46:22   really gotten himself back in the good [TS]

00:46:24   graces of tonight show and had learned [TS]

00:46:26   the routine would be the better host for [TS]

00:46:30   the long haul because people would tune [TS]

00:46:32   into a night after night after night and [TS]

00:46:35   in fact what happened to daves ratings [TS]

00:46:38   in the 24 months after he signed on to [TS]

00:46:42   CBS kinda bored that out he rocketed to [TS]

00:46:47   number one that first sweeps he did in [TS]

00:46:50   November it was just off the charts and [TS]

00:46:53   then he went to LA and Johnny Carson I [TS]

00:46:55   think the news had already broken the [TS]

00:46:57   Johnny Carson was going to make an [TS]

00:46:58   appearance on that night show and he had [TS]

00:47:01   10 million people watching 10 million [TS]

00:47:03   people take you can't get 10 million [TS]

00:47:05   people to watch a prime-time show these [TS]

00:47:07   days it was off the charts and then it [TS]

00:47:12   started to turn and there's still no one [TS]

00:47:17   thing I can point to until about the [TS]

00:47:19   spring of nineteen ninety-six he's [TS]

00:47:21   already lost the lead in the ratings 22 [TS]

00:47:24   Leno and there's there's some comments [TS]

00:47:28   about who's to blame for this [TS]

00:47:30   this is a part of the lettermen story [TS]

00:47:31   that we don't talk about much he lost [TS]

00:47:33   the ratings lead the show lost something [TS]

00:47:35   creatively Letterman himself talked [TS]

00:47:37   about this in a recent interview with [TS]

00:47:38   the new york times when he said and I'll [TS]

00:47:40   quote before I felt pretty confident in [TS]

00:47:42   what we were up to because there was no [TS]

00:47:44   competition to speak up whatsoever in [TS]

00:47:46   the beginning at CBS we came out of the [TS]

00:47:48   shoot going a million miles an hour and [TS]

00:47:50   then when that was all done we just sort [TS]

00:47:52   of said really can we go a million miles [TS]

00:47:54   an hour again and we tried and we [TS]

00:47:56   couldn't I think we've gone way down the [TS]

00:47:58   road [TS]

00:47:58   maybe way down the wrong road I don't [TS]

00:48:01   know that we ever did get back the right [TS]

00:48:02   way [TS]

00:48:03   it didn't start to settle down until it [TS]

00:48:04   couldn't be more clear that Jay was the [TS]

00:48:06   more popular show and when we all [TS]

00:48:08   realize that there's not much we can do [TS]

00:48:09   here you can't put toothpaste back in [TS]

00:48:11   the tube then we started going our own [TS]

00:48:13   way again I think it was just an [TS]

00:48:14   inevitability the guy in the race who [TS]

00:48:16   spends more time looking over his [TS]

00:48:18   shoulder [TS]

00:48:18   well that's the mistake for two years I [TS]

00:48:20   made that mistake we ran out of steam [TS]

00:48:22   day that they had a plan and they said [TS]

00:48:25   in effect and and it didn't work [TS]

00:48:28   one of their own Bernhardt's first major [TS]

00:48:30   pieces was for the New York Observer [TS]

00:48:31   about the Letterman Show and what was [TS]

00:48:33   going wrong and what i did was i [TS]

00:48:35   dissected an episode and you may recall [TS]

00:48:37   I actually sat down and watched an [TS]

00:48:39   episode with Rob Burnett in their studio [TS]

00:48:41   the only time I've ever met Letterman he [TS]

00:48:43   came in and shook my hand and we stared [TS]

00:48:47   awkwardly to each other in any money [TS]

00:48:49   left huh [TS]

00:48:50   I had dreams like that it might [TS]

00:48:52   literally literally I've had that dream [TS]

00:48:54   it's literally go David Letterman well [TS]

00:48:56   it all right it is it's it's not easy [TS]

00:49:00   being David it's not easy being a fan of [TS]

00:49:02   date but damn i sat down watched an [TS]

00:49:05   episode and even there there are moments [TS]

00:49:07   that you like David and new director of [TS]

00:49:10   his longtime director hell gurney who [TS]

00:49:12   would produce Jack Paar and finally [TS]

00:49:15   retired and and so this guy Jerry fully [TS]

00:49:18   had taken over Jerry had never really [TS]

00:49:20   done a talk show and they were there are [TS]

00:49:22   these epic tapings that audience members [TS]

00:49:26   would talk about where David barkat [TS]

00:49:28   Jerry and segments would be taped over [TS]

00:49:31   and over and and even on the episode [TS]

00:49:34   that i had asked Rob Burnett the hand [TS]

00:49:36   pick that we sat down watched together [TS]

00:49:38   there was evidence of tension between [TS]

00:49:39   David the boot so anyway there was as it [TS]

00:49:41   all came to a head this episode where [TS]

00:49:43   it's some sketch involved a david [TS]

00:49:46   letterman dummy to be made a life-size [TS]

00:49:48   dummy and i forget what the sketch was [TS]

00:49:51   but after the joke was over and he was [TS]

00:49:55   supposed to move on to other jokes he [TS]

00:49:57   turned around for no reason it took a [TS]

00:50:00   baseball bat and hit the David Letterman [TS]

00:50:02   dummy in the head and he kinda liked it [TS]

00:50:05   so he kept hitting at first the audience [TS]

00:50:08   laughs and then not so funny [TS]

00:50:12   and this goes on for like half a minute [TS]

00:50:13   and it's very awkward television but [TS]

00:50:17   Dave clearly that self-loathing side [TS]

00:50:21   could not be contained it came out it is [TS]

00:50:24   never really gone back in that David [TS]

00:50:28   Letterman that made a name for himself [TS]

00:50:30   in the nineteen eighties turned out did [TS]

00:50:33   not wear so well in the nineteen [TS]

00:50:35   nineties and even though i think a lot [TS]

00:50:38   of people came back to him and view them [TS]

00:50:41   in a different way after his his heart [TS]

00:50:43   surgery after some of the heartfelt [TS]

00:50:47   monologues he made including this post [TS]

00:50:49   9-11 you know we all age so Dave's [TS]

00:50:53   audience aged with him [TS]

00:50:55   there's two moments from 9-11 that i [TS]

00:50:57   remember vividly on TV I remember the [TS]

00:51:00   morning of when it was happening live [TS]

00:51:02   I've just remembered the telecast [TS]

00:51:04   vividly it was just astounding and then [TS]

00:51:06   the other thing i remember very [TS]

00:51:08   specifically was the first Letterman [TS]

00:51:09   episode afterwards I don't know if it [TS]

00:51:12   was a week I don't know if it was two [TS]

00:51:13   weeks I forget exactly when but within a [TS]

00:51:16   week or two it came back on that you [TS]

00:51:17   remember this remember how dope yeah oh [TS]

00:51:19   yeah no music it was just silence and [TS]

00:51:22   then Dave at his desk and any it he [TS]

00:51:26   killed it right it was just amazing and [TS]

00:51:29   it really it just gave me the sense like [TS]

00:51:32   you know what we're gonna be alright [TS]

00:51:33   which brings us to the last third of the [TS]

00:51:35   story Letterman's not making headlines [TS]

00:51:37   every day now he's not leading leno in [TS]

00:51:39   the ratings NBC tries not to repeat its [TS]

00:51:41   disastrous handling of the Letterman [TS]

00:51:43   Leno thing and promises The Tonight Show [TS]

00:51:45   did Conan O'Brien in the end this [TS]

00:51:47   decision creates an even worse disaster [TS]

00:51:49   as Conan replaces Leno and fairly soon [TS]

00:51:52   thereafter leno replaces Conan all the [TS]

00:51:54   while Letterman just keeps on cranking [TS]

00:51:56   out shows the show's format this points [TS]

00:51:58   locked in [TS]

00:51:59   dave has open heart surgery but comes [TS]

00:52:01   back someone plot to kidnap his young [TS]

00:52:03   son it's revealed that over the decades [TS]

00:52:05   has been having sex with young women on [TS]

00:52:06   his staff the show just keep plowing on [TS]

00:52:09   new starlets new politicians new rock [TS]

00:52:11   bands just keep rolling on time flows on [TS]

00:52:15   and on and we watch it all or at least [TS]

00:52:18   some of us do not me as a die-hard fan [TS]

00:52:21   during the first third of david [TS]

00:52:23   letterman's career and a frequent viewer [TS]

00:52:24   during the sec [TS]

00:52:25   in a final act of Letterman's career has [TS]

00:52:27   passed almost like background noise for [TS]

00:52:29   me I might watch a few times a year [TS]

00:52:31   that's all [TS]

00:52:33   every night I have for as long as i can [TS]

00:52:36   remember taped late show with david [TS]

00:52:39   letterman and this morning was the first [TS]

00:52:42   time in probably a year that I've [TS]

00:52:45   actually sat down and watched an episode [TS]

00:52:47   of late show with david letterman and [TS]

00:52:50   the case of Carson as is the case with [TS]

00:52:53   Letterman right now it would be silly if [TS]

00:52:56   this person in late Middle it in middle [TS]

00:52:59   age or late middle age where to try to [TS]

00:53:01   reinvent himself when he that they've [TS]

00:53:03   got a machine that works perfectly at [TS]

00:53:05   this point had to bolt the rear spoiler [TS]

00:53:07   and an afterburner onto it like and turn [TS]

00:53:09   into something that looks like the [TS]

00:53:10   Batmobile but doesn't run like the [TS]

00:53:12   Batmobile that would be very very [TS]

00:53:13   embarrassing occasionally all be up at [TS]

00:53:16   that hour not watching sports if i'm up [TS]

00:53:19   at that hour it's generally because i'm [TS]

00:53:20   watching an old movie or i'm watching [TS]

00:53:22   sports but i'll flip by CBS and CNN that [TS]

00:53:24   it's dave letterman and you know it's [TS]

00:53:26   it's I think were you and I are also not [TS]

00:53:30   to be cranky old men but it's not what [TS]

00:53:32   it was in the old days it's not it's not [TS]

00:53:35   young risk-taking david letterman [TS]

00:53:38   instead it's it's david letterman taking [TS]

00:53:40   his victory lap so you cannot pretend [TS]

00:53:43   that he's a forty-year-old or 35 year [TS]

00:53:46   old guy know who is up-and-coming and [TS]

00:53:49   wants to stick it to the man he is a [TS]

00:53:51   multi multi-millionaire he is the man he [TS]

00:53:54   is the man to end Johnny Carson was the [TS]

00:53:57   man and Johnny Carson could get away [TS]

00:53:58   with it a little bit more because he [TS]

00:53:59   would do jokes about out his wife took [TS]

00:54:01   them to the cleaners the divorce hearing [TS]

00:54:03   or how he's playing tennis ER for all [TS]

00:54:06   that and that was never really part of [TS]

00:54:08   Letterman check i like the fact that [TS]

00:54:10   they have just he and his staff have [TS]

00:54:13   gently sort of shifted his role when he [TS]

00:54:16   started off in that chair he was the [TS]

00:54:18   person who i'm going to have the remote [TS]

00:54:19   microphone i'm gonna try to deliver a [TS]

00:54:21   basket of fruit to NBC executives and [TS]

00:54:22   I'm gonna batter to the batter case i [TS]

00:54:24   know they're gonna throw me a plan to [TS]

00:54:26   get great shots of them being jerks and [TS]

00:54:28   me being calm and me trying to just do [TS]

00:54:30   something nice like deliver this basket [TS]

00:54:31   of fruit now he's in exactly the [TS]

00:54:33   opposite roll a lot of the humans they [TS]

00:54:35   do is he's he's uncle grandpa [TS]

00:54:38   in the middle of the stage and younger [TS]

00:54:40   staffers come up and he has no clue [TS]

00:54:41   what's going on you know and they can [TS]

00:54:43   actually even like the parading him [TS]

00:54:45   because he is the establishment figure [TS]

00:54:47   and that's absolutely appropriate for [TS]

00:54:50   him to be doing this kind of comedy at [TS]

00:54:52   this at this stage in his life [TS]

00:54:55   it's absolutely ridiculous for him to [TS]

00:54:56   try to be hip because he is the [TS]

00:54:58   establishment at this point you can [TS]

00:54:59   pretend that he doesn't have tens of [TS]

00:55:01   millions of dollars you can pretend that [TS]

00:55:03   he is not both culturally and [TS]

00:55:05   economically one of the most successful [TS]

00:55:07   people who has ever done that job [TS]

00:55:09   it's kind of ridiculous to want to have [TS]

00:55:12   the exact same role in popular culture [TS]

00:55:14   in your sixties that you had when you're [TS]

00:55:17   in your thirties it is so much more [TS]

00:55:19   satisfying to realize that I am I'm [TS]

00:55:22   delivering something that people count [TS]

00:55:23   on every single day [TS]

00:55:24   it's not that I'm bring something fresh [TS]

00:55:26   and new every single night it's that I'm [TS]

00:55:28   delivering something that's absolutely [TS]

00:55:30   reliable and that is the bedrock of [TS]

00:55:32   simple craftsmanship and reliability [TS]

00:55:35   Letterman is that level of refinement he [TS]

00:55:38   can do more by simply stepping out and [TS]

00:55:40   saying forwards then a lot of other [TS]

00:55:42   late-night comedians can do with [TS]

00:55:43   material they spent an entire week [TS]

00:55:45   developing and rehearsing i will give [TS]

00:55:47   him this Johnny Carson was square even [TS]

00:55:52   when big portions of America thought he [TS]

00:55:54   was hip or he was square America's idea [TS]

00:55:57   of hip and david letterman his flavor [TS]

00:56:01   lasted I think a lot longer than anyone [TS]

00:56:03   including himself expected it to [TS]

00:56:05   and then when he finally became [TS]

00:56:07   hopelessly identified with dad [TS]

00:56:11   by that time he felt like well he was [TS]

00:56:13   just a good friend and and there were [TS]

00:56:16   all these other choices that I could [TS]

00:56:18   turn to and and so he just stuck around [TS]

00:56:20   and it worked out okay for everybody not [TS]

00:56:24   least of all david letterman so here's a [TS]

00:56:26   true story from my life bear with me a [TS]

00:56:29   few weeks ago my childhood home burned [TS]

00:56:31   down nobody was hurt thank goodness but [TS]

00:56:33   when people ask me how I felt about the [TS]

00:56:35   loss i realized that i had more net [TS]

00:56:37   place long before nearly 18 years ago my [TS]

00:56:40   parents sold the place I grew up in this [TS]

00:56:42   eighteen sixties era farmhouse and sort [TS]

00:56:44   of barnes on 45 acres in the Northern [TS]

00:56:46   California foothills they use the money [TS]

00:56:49   to retire the people who bought it [TS]

00:56:50   transformed it into one of the [TS]

00:56:52   top wedding destinations in the region [TS]

00:56:54   if not the country back to the old place [TS]

00:56:56   twice maybe 10 years ago and again a [TS]

00:56:58   couple years back had been completely [TS]

00:57:00   transformed part of the outer portion of [TS]

00:57:02   the house was unchanged the entire [TS]

00:57:04   inside had been ripped out and replaced [TS]

00:57:05   with guest rooms a new building had been [TS]

00:57:07   grafted onto the side of the old one [TS]

00:57:09   trees and shrubs over grew this lawn [TS]

00:57:11   that I used to know every week [TS]

00:57:12   my point is when place burned down no I [TS]

00:57:16   felt sad for the people who owned the [TS]

00:57:17   place and that the structure itself is [TS]

00:57:20   now gone already mourned the house I [TS]

00:57:22   grew up in it was gone the minute they [TS]

00:57:24   ripped out the bedroom walls tore up the [TS]

00:57:26   ugly linoleum in the kitchen stuck a [TS]

00:57:28   pond in the backyard [TS]

00:57:30   you can't go home again but you can get [TS]

00:57:32   married there [TS]

00:57:33   this is how i feel about this last week [TS]

00:57:35   with david letterman he is meaningful to [TS]

00:57:37   me his comedy and tone and sense of [TS]

00:57:39   irony were immensely influential in my [TS]

00:57:41   development as a writer and viewer and [TS]

00:57:43   amateur joke teller and it's sad to [TS]

00:57:46   think that he will be on the air anymore [TS]

00:57:47   though he certainly has served his time [TS]

00:57:49   and deserves a happy retirement but i [TS]

00:57:52   don't watch the show anymore [TS]

00:57:54   I've been watching the past few weeks [TS]

00:57:56   for old times sake it's been a lot of [TS]

00:57:57   fun but it's just a legend now a [TS]

00:58:00   sentimental visit to a place that was [TS]

00:58:02   once my home but is already gone [TS]

00:58:04   I never stopped stopped watching [TS]

00:58:07   watching Letterman and I'm actually [TS]

00:58:10   starting not worried about what happens [TS]

00:58:12   when he goes away but realizing that [TS]

00:58:14   this has been a kid he's his show has [TS]

00:58:16   been a constant in my entire life and [TS]

00:58:19   it's always a little bit sad when a [TS]

00:58:20   constant goes away even if it's you know [TS]

00:58:23   that day that you know you sell your mom [TS]

00:58:25   and dad's house because they're both [TS]

00:58:26   gone and now you can you can no longer [TS]

00:58:28   be going back to this address that has [TS]

00:58:30   been a big part of your life all of your [TS]

00:58:32   life or even if it's just that they [TS]

00:58:35   stopped making a Brandis owed that you [TS]

00:58:37   really like it's that you attach so much [TS]

00:58:39   to these touchstones of your life that [TS]

00:58:41   when something goes away you don't feel [TS]

00:58:43   like you're lost but you realize it on [TS]

00:58:45   me that's gonna be I'm gonna miss that i [TS]

00:58:46   really miss that a lot [TS]

00:58:47   he's always he's my guy so it's great to [TS]

00:58:50   hear like Kimmel who I love come out [TS]

00:58:53   flat out say look I'm in this business [TS]

00:58:54   because of Letterman and Letterman was [TS]

00:58:56   the best and the correct of course [TS]

00:58:58   Kimmel famous for not letting leno have [TS]

00:59:02   like do any of his hair just be friends [TS]

00:59:05   thing let [TS]

00:59:05   giggles have none of that in and in some [TS]

00:59:08   ways he was more mad Atlanta than [TS]

00:59:09   Letterman was was kind of funny [TS]

00:59:11   Letterman grew up with three TV channels [TS]

00:59:13   or five TV channels Johnny Carson grew [TS]

00:59:16   up with just a couple TV channels he [TS]

00:59:18   grew up mostly with radio and this [TS]

00:59:20   generation of performers all grew up [TS]

00:59:23   with television and they grew up with [TS]

00:59:25   lots of television choices the closest [TS]

00:59:27   analogue would probably be Jimmy Kimmel [TS]

00:59:29   who did morning radio before he made his [TS]

00:59:32   way over to television just as as David [TS]

00:59:34   Letterman was a weatherman Indianapolis [TS]

00:59:36   but i think david letterman will not [TS]

00:59:39   happen again in the sense that his [TS]

00:59:41   sensibilities are really formed around [TS]

00:59:45   post-war America and the idea that [TS]

00:59:49   television was this giant glowing [TS]

00:59:52   presence in the center of the house that [TS]

00:59:54   everybody gravitated to and what he did [TS]

00:59:59   in the night [TS]

00:59:59   in the night [TS]

01:00:00   teen eighties was positively daring he [TS]

01:00:05   split that Adam he said well actually [TS]

01:00:09   there's going to be a late night talk [TS]

01:00:10   show for mom and dad and then there's [TS]

01:00:12   going to be one for the kids kids don't [TS]

01:00:14   have to watch Johnny's monologue anymore [TS]

01:00:16   i used to tape Johnny Carson's monologue [TS]

01:00:19   on a cassette tape recorder and play it [TS]

01:00:22   back later because that was considered [TS]

01:00:26   the kind of hip asst funniest most [TS]

01:00:30   topical comedy anywhere and now really [TS]

01:00:33   going back to the dawn of the Internet [TS]

01:00:36   era which was a time of great expansion [TS]

01:00:40   and cable TV offerings this whole [TS]

01:00:42   generation is just accustomed to you [TS]

01:00:45   know laughs on demand and and so it Dave [TS]

01:00:49   really is is like Johnny Carson in that [TS]

01:00:53   he goes back to a time when all this [TS]

01:00:56   entertainment was good was considered [TS]

01:00:58   very very rare and and special and so it [TS]

01:01:05   it commanded top dollar and the entire [TS]

01:01:08   nation sometimes seem to be paying [TS]

01:01:11   attention to what you said and nowadays [TS]

01:01:13   people sit around and pray that their [TS]

01:01:15   you know a joke that they tell goes [TS]

01:01:17   viral or a bit on their show gets gets [TS]

01:01:21   posted on social media so I i think with [TS]

01:01:25   Dave going away [TS]

01:01:27   you know it really is kind of the end of [TS]

01:01:29   an era that started with steve allen and [TS]

01:01:33   went through Jack Paar Johnny Carson and [TS]

01:01:36   and david letterman say what you want [TS]

01:01:39   about Carson and and like the rules you [TS]

01:01:41   put Letterman under he wanted to always [TS]

01:01:43   be the top he did he needed was you know [TS]

01:01:46   its defensive enough and insecure enough [TS]

01:01:48   that he would do little things to make [TS]

01:01:49   sure nobody supplanted him but he let [TS]

01:01:52   Gary Shandling and jay leno and joan [TS]

01:01:55   rivers and david letterman host his show [TS]

01:01:58   but he gave them this platform you know [TS]

01:02:01   he gave this younger generation of [TS]

01:02:03   would-be successors this platform and [TS]

01:02:05   Letterman never did that for anybody [TS]

01:02:07   like he never picked a 1230 post who was [TS]

01:02:10   in any way a plausible replacement from [TS]

01:02:13   self and he never did guest host and I [TS]

01:02:15   always wondered that Letterman works too [TS]

01:02:17   hard that five shows a week is too many [TS]

01:02:19   and part of what made Carson seem fresh [TS]

01:02:21   for so long as the only did three shows [TS]

01:02:23   a week for 40 weeks here if there's [TS]

01:02:26   anything i wish that i could have seen [TS]

01:02:28   maybe them tried differently would maybe [TS]

01:02:30   maybe starting like 10 years ago let [TS]

01:02:32   somebody guest host every monday right [TS]

01:02:35   there from the you know the ad sullivan [TS]

01:02:38   theater and then have Letterman only do [TS]

01:02:40   four shows a week in my career as a [TS]

01:02:43   critic two of the best things I ever got [TS]

01:02:46   well i got letters from david letterman [TS]

01:02:48   and that that was amazing because the [TS]

01:02:51   he's just he's just somebody who doesn't [TS]

01:02:52   really do that often and it you know [TS]

01:02:56   they came years apart and but they were [TS]

01:02:58   both in response to something that i [TS]

01:02:59   wrote about him one was really just an [TS]

01:03:02   appreciation uh uh how talented he was [TS]

01:03:04   and how great the show was and then that [TS]

01:03:06   was early on and then the other one was [TS]

01:03:08   a you know when people have certain [TS]

01:03:10   forgot about him for a long time and and [TS]

01:03:13   he still had many many years left and i [TS]

01:03:16   did a thing like 8i I don't know why I [TS]

01:03:18   like it [TS]

01:03:19   everybody's talking about the new flavor [TS]

01:03:21   whether it's Lana or whoever but here's [TS]

01:03:24   here's the master and and I do this [TS]

01:03:26   whole thing he really really appreciate [TS]

01:03:27   it and sent me letters are both those [TS]

01:03:29   actually Framed one of them from the [TS]

01:03:30   first one because i was like what [TS]

01:03:31   David's career is almost like a [TS]

01:03:33   self-fulfilling prophecy he never [TS]

01:03:35   thought that he was the equal of Johnny [TS]

01:03:37   Carson he always thought that Johnny was [TS]

01:03:40   always funnier better interviewer more [TS]

01:03:45   urbane quicker minded smoother more [TS]

01:03:50   gracious a talk show host than he could [TS]

01:03:53   ever be and yet at the same time he [TS]

01:03:56   wanted his job and so he has done [TS]

01:04:00   everything where if it's possible for [TS]

01:04:03   him to emulate Johnny he has done that [TS]

01:04:05   and everything else he has done his own [TS]

01:04:08   way and so now he's going to go out in [TS]

01:04:12   his own way I can't remember you know [TS]

01:04:15   like again I was I don't know 10 or 11 [TS]

01:04:17   when Letterman got on here so I mean [TS]

01:04:18   anything anywhere even vaguely close to [TS]

01:04:21   having a adult mind [TS]

01:04:23   and awareness of American culture [TS]

01:04:25   Letterman's been on it doesn't feel like [TS]

01:04:27   America without him [TS]

01:04:28   so what happens to David Letterman now [TS]

01:04:31   like I said he's earned his retirement [TS]

01:04:33   when Carson signed off in 92 one of the [TS]

01:04:36   last things he said was he hoped the [TS]

01:04:38   audience would welcome him back if you [TS]

01:04:40   ever came back with a project that he [TS]

01:04:41   thought they'd like he never came back [TS]

01:04:44   cameos on the Letterman Show where the [TS]

01:04:46   most that we ever got so is Dave going [TS]

01:04:49   to emulate his idol one more time maybe [TS]

01:04:52   but today is a very different media [TS]

01:04:56   landscape then 1992 Jerry Seinfeld [TS]

01:04:59   doesn't need to work but he was able to [TS]

01:05:01   create his web series comedians in cars [TS]

01:05:04   getting coffee and do it at his own pace [TS]

01:05:07   so it wouldn't surprise me at all if we [TS]

01:05:10   see Dave on the web somewhere doing [TS]

01:05:12   stuff for the sheer fun of it with the [TS]

01:05:14   burdens of 1130 and johnny carson and [TS]

01:05:18   The Tonight Show and The Ed Sullivan [TS]

01:05:20   Theater removed forever [TS]

01:05:23   I'd love to see that but if all we get [TS]

01:05:27   is the more than 6,000 episodes he's [TS]

01:05:30   produced over 33 years i'll call it even [TS]

01:05:34   thanks Dave from your pals [TS]

01:05:38   for the complete interviews with indian [TS]

01:05:44   taco Erin Barnhart John Gruber Philip [TS]

01:05:46   Michaels and Tim Goodman go to the [TS]

01:05:48   incomparable but calm / bonus track / 24 [TS]

01:05:53   7 B we'll see you next week [TS]