David Letterman leaves his post at Late Show later this month, and today, fellow late night host Conan O'Brien wrote a touching tribute to him for Entertainment Weekly detailing how Letterman's work on The David Letterman Show, Late Night with David Letterman, and Late Show changed the late night game and ultimately inspired O'Brien to get into comedy. Here's an excerpt:
Dave’s show was that rare phenomenon: a big, fat show business hit that seemingly despised show business. Dave didn’t belong, and he had no interest in belonging. He amused himself, skewered clueless celebrity guests, and did strange, ironic comedic bits that no one had seen on television [...]
Chris Elliott appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman last night, and since his career really began when he started writing and performing bits on Letterman's Late Night show, it's not a huge surprise that his appearance, ostensibly to plug his new returning Adult Swim show Eagleheart, really was just one giant, marathon-themed sketch. Even Dave seemed impressed.
Last October, as part of Vulture and UCB Comedy's Pop Culture Memory Lane series, all-star viner and Venture Brothers star James Urbaniak shared a story about how he once helped David Letterman tell one of his monologue jokes as a teenager back in Late Night's early years. This is how Urbaniak told it:
In part because today is the 20th anniversary of the 1,819th and final episode of the incredibly influential Late Night with David Letterman, and partly because we just found it in the catacombs of the internet over the weekend, here is video of 19-year-old "Jim" Urbaniak hijacking Letterman's monologue on the night of February 23, [...]
The Paley Center for Media, which has locations in both New York and LA, dedicates itself to the preservation of television and radio history. Inside their vast archives of more than 120,000 television shows, commercials, and radio programs, there are thousands of important and funny programs waiting to be rediscovered by comedy nerds like you and me. Each week, this column will highlight a new gem waiting for you at the Paley Library to quietly laugh at. (Seriously, it’s a library, so keep it down.)
One of the best things about Late Night with David Letterman was that in its prime, you never knew what was going to happen. [...]
On December 19, 1984, after devoting entire episodes to a bar mitzvah and an intermediate school's election night, and before their episodes from an airplane and a hotel room, Late Night with David Letterman presented Christmas with the Lettermans, a one hour send-up of every single cheesy Christmas special that had ever run on television. The special, which ran unsuspectingly on a Wednesday during Letterman's usual 12:35am time slot, won Late Night the Emmy for outstanding writing in a variety or music program for the second year in a row.
The special began with NBC's classic "brought to you in living color" identification that welcomed viewers to countless peacock [...]