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Letterman has always been aces with me ever since I started watching
his iconoclastic show back in '84 (I know he started in '82 and prior
to that in '80 w/an am talk show - I caught glimpses of that once) and
still continues to provide an evening's worth of laughter just before I
go to bed after what is usually a daily ritual of a thankless job and
the mundane idiocy of humanity. His insouciant gap-toothed sardonic
grin, clever razor-sharped wit and 'go screw' attitude fit like his
trademark Adidas wrestling shoes and proved to be a refreshing take at
the ol' chestnut - the talk show - proving a verbal jester with the
gift of gab and a knowing wink to the viewer at home who was really in
control when the next 'lovely and talented' guest was to partake of the
chum-letting to the shark-feeding frenzy that is Dave.
So many funny moments I'll never forget in the following stream of consciousness: Chris Elliot in any manic form; frequent guests Teri Garr, Pee-Wee Herman, Andy Kaufman, Tony Randall, Brother Theodore, David Sanborn, George Miller, Marilu Henner; Larry 'Bud' Melman (how truly ironic in a word also best to summarize the show in itself, making irony into a true art form that he would be considered 'intellectual property' owned by NBC/GE when Dave left NBC for CBS in '93) clueless to any events at hands in the show's proceedings particularly in his ventures outside 30 Rock (his notorious visit to the Port Authority greeting arriving bus passengers with hot towels had Dave in hysterics and his lengthy ill-conceived tour of good will to Tierra del Fuego, South America in which a clearly exhausted Bud demanded to comeback home to NYC!); Gerard Mulligan's stooge-personification when Dave would berate him to the point of suicide; 'Stupid Pet Tricks' (again a new art form of the ridiculously sublime; kudos to Dave's ex-Merrill Markoe, for her vision there); 'Viewer Mail' and Flunky The Viewer Mail Clown (portrayed by writer Jeff Martin who would go on to write for 'The Simpsons' and using a thinly-veiled attribute to Dave with Krusty The Clown considered Dave's alter ego); 'Brush With Greatness'; the avuncular announcer Bill Wendell (and his legendary parties); Dave visiting GE with a fruit basket much to the anger of the security head (a real film vault moment in dealing with 'corporate weasels and pinheads'); Elevator Races with Bob Costas; specialty shows (i.e. Viewer's Choice detailing how everything would be shown on the show; broadcasts from planes, the back of a pick-up truck; a mid-town hotel; etc.) such as the one where the screen did a full turn during the progress of the show; Crispin Glover's infamous appearance where he nearly knocked Dave out with a swift kick of his platform shoes; cantankerous comic book artist Harvey Pekar; one of the funniest moments ever was when he had some woman on with her monkeys and they were being taught manners and the female one was very antic and got a kick out of Dave and threatened to strike him at any minute prompting him to declare, 'She's gonna leap up and grab a vein outta my neck and kill me!'; Dave using puppets to show his disdain for the GE weasels during his infamous contract disputes; the suits made of Alka-Seltzer, bags of nacho chips, magnets and Velcro; trips to Chicago, LA & Vegas and on and on. I always said to truly get/enjoy Dave is the stand-by of watching Dave for Dave and not for who he had on the show (that would be attributed to Jay Leno who arguably was way funnier pre-'Tonight' show ascension; he's completely homogenized and mainstream and unfunny).
Perhaps my fondest memories were when I actually went to see the tapings of the shows live (including the 10th Anniversary Special from Radio City Music Hall!). My first time I went with my college roommate and we brought Dave a gift, a t-shirt from our college, and oddly enough we were allowed to present him with it just prior to the taping. However it turned out we weren't the only ones with clothing as gifts ('Jesus, it's T-shirt City, tonite Paul,' he cracked after the umpteenth t-shirt handed over to him) and when I finally gave him ours he shook my hand, asked my name and where I was from and then the coup de grace he simply said to me, 'Well have a seat on me, but not a seat on me!' Dave will always be aces with me!
"Late Night with David Letterman" is without a doubt the most clever,
experimental (apologies to Steve Allen and Ernie Kovacs), and downright
hysterical television program in TV history. To describe it would be
pointless, because so many different things would happen in a given show.
From about 1986 to about 1990 was Dave's finest period (he was still
sarcastic Dave and hadn't yet become angry sarcastic Dave), but the show
very solid overall. The Top Ten lists on those shows were 50 times better
than the lists on the CBS show, and to me are some of the most valuable
comic documents of this century, a sort of numerological Dave Barry.
Kids, you think Tom Green was the first person to get into confrontations on camera? Check Dave when he went to bring "those weasels at G.E." a fruit basket and was promptly escorted out. Sure Viewer Mail and Stupid Pet Tricks were Dave's trademarks (both superior to the CBS versions), but it was things like the "Late Night Thrill Cam" and "Network Time Killers" and the show filmed in an airport, and the show that was played at a high speed to "save time," etc. that made Late Night the best thing on TV when it was on.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Many younger viewers don't realize it, but the current CBS version of
David Letterman is not the REAL David Letterman! The Late Show is nice
and Letterman still has remnants of his funny persona left, but the
REAL David Letterman is when he was NBC's LATE NIGHT WITH David
LETTERMAN from 1982 to 1993.
LNWDL was cutting edge and in reality is a huge reason that talk shows of the modern era do some of the crazy, interesting, fun things that they can do. Personally, I'm glad that Dave never got the Johnny Carson show because I felt that show was too uppity for him. Better than it go to that overrated, boring Jay Leno. I never could get into that show after Carson left. Carson had a perfect blend of wisdom, class, and humor that made that show work. Leno was dullness personified! But even in the waning years of Carson, LNWDL was a great-follow up to the more dignified, classy Carson show. While Carson had big movie stars, past and present, and up-and-coming comedians, Dave had more of B-listers (and sometimes C and D listers!) as his guests. But they rarely disappointed.
Dave would have these off-the-wall skits with Larry "Bud" Melman, Chris Elliott, with regular assists from Dave's hip right-hand man, bandleader Paul Schaeffer, who stayed with Dave when he went over to CBS. Then his "B-list" guests would include the likes of Andy Kaufman, Sandra Bernhard, Teri Garr, Richard Simmons, all of whom were in on the joke during the no-holds-barred interviews, in which Dave (nor his guests) would pull any punches. And when Dave did have A-listers, like Cher or Madonna or some other big name, he and/or his audience would more often than not antagonize them, mainly as a way of bringing them down to the level of his show, which to me is a good thing! Dave for an eternity tried to get Oprah on his NBC show, but ironically she never appeared until CBS. Safer, milder atmosphere! And even Cher and Madonna seem to have buried the hatchet and regularly appear on his CBS show.
In retrospect, I think a lot of people see the genius of Dave when he was on NBC. Back then, Dave was fresh, young, energetic, enthusiastic, sarcastic, and witty. He still holds those last 2 qualities, but he's much more laid back and picks his spots more. On NBC, he was uninhibited and we're all the better for it! Whether or not Dave or Carson is the best is debatable, but they are #1 and #2. Leno, Conan, Ferguson, Fallon, Kimmel, and the up-and-coming Colbert (who is to take over Dave's CBS show) are all competing for a distant 3rd!
People today take for granted the style of humor that is so common today on late night TV. Don't forget that in the 1980's no one was doing that "anything goes", "screw those executive weasels", "hey, it's only TV, let's have some fun" type of show except Letterman. Dave Letterman spawned an entire generation of pale imitators such as Conan and Leno and many others. Letterman showed just how funny remote segments could be if perform with wit and disregard for consequences. Tom Green has only the latter, Leno has neither. Letterman showed that you could do a celebrity interview show without sucking up to the guests and that most celebrities actually have a sense of humor about themselves if given a chance. Letterman also turned the cameras on regular people with no special performance talent, showing that they could be as funny as anyone in the right situation. Chris Elliott and Calvert DeForest are still getting mileage out of their appearances. Fans of the old show will never forget Al Frisch, Jimmy Fitzgerald in "Technician's Corner", Gerard Mulligan, or Chris Elliott as the guy under the seats. No one could have made "Stupid Pet Tricks" and "Stupid Human Tricks" fly like Letterman could because Dave can take any silly situation and improve upon it with his quick wit. That is truly the mark of a great talk show host and no one is better than Dave. I could go on and on about all of the great comedy bits Letterman has done over the years and a couple of them may seem relatively tame by today's standards, but no one has ever improved upon the standard that Dave has set over the last 20 years. His current show isn't as anti-establishment or daring as his NBC show, mainly because there are no more barriers to break down. But the fact remains that if you want to watch a talk show that relies on cleverness and wit as opposed to smarmy pandering or mindless obnoxious behavior, The Late Show with David Letterman on CBS is the only place to go.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This one happened because Letterman was young and talented and he was
being mentored by johnny Carson. since Carson was much more modest and
shy too those he helped had to have the talent to make it on their own.
Letterman turned out as a Cum Laud graduate. Carson wanted to name
David as his replacement and World Wide Pants was actually a production
company associated with Carson directly.
The reason NBC did not make Letterman the new tonight show guy was an NBC exec was still angry they had to really give Carson such a generous contract. NBC had to really open the vault to give Carson all he asked for but that money is on of the reasons this got started.
Letterman did the rest and created a late night that would not create an empty space when Carson retired. He did it very well and would go on to fill the Empty Ed Sullivan Theater as well.
Setting: An overpriced studio set overlooking New York City.
Time: Present Day, though if anyone had common sense it wouldn't be.
David Letterman: The gap-toothed Host of Late Night. A cynical man who is jealous of Jay Leno because Jay's funny and he's not.
Paul Shaffer: A rare breed of shaved parrot. Serves to repeat everything that Dave says and act as what I'm guessing is a bandleader.
Alan Kalter: Announcer for the show. Not his fault.
Dave: Alright Ladies and Gentlemen, here's tonight's top 10 list.
(Music enters) Dave: Tonight's top 10 list: Top 10 Reasons I'm Not Funny.
(Applause sign lights up, people forced to clap, dually regretting an evening wasted)
Dave: Number 10:I'm a cynic
Paul: Oh, a cynic, huh?
Dave: Number 9: I'm whiny-Carson retired twenty years ago and I treat Jay Leno like he's Moby Dick.
Paul: Moby Dick.
Dave: Number 8: I think it's funny if I repeat words I say like "political pundit." Paul: Political Pundit.
Dave: Number 7: I'm crotchety.
Dave: Number 6: I actually have to use laugh signs.
Paul: Oh, laugh signs huh?
Dave: Number 5: I don't ask guests real questions that stimulate their minds-instead I'll interview Hugh Laurie and ask him if his name is Hugh Laurie.
Paul: Ah, Hugh Laurie.
Dave: Number 4: If a guest says something awkward, I'll just look at the audience and furrow my brow.
Paul: Furrow your brow, huh? Dave: Number 3: I won't appear even mildly interested in what my guests are saying.
Paul: What your guests are saying Dave.
Dave: Number 2: I meanly pounce on celebrity scandals like a Tiger-Speaking of Tiger, did you know that his wife is threatening to wedge his nine-iron?
(Laughter sign blinks, fake laughter)
Paul:Nine-iron, wedge, golf.
Dave: And the number 1 reason I'm not funny: I actually have to make out a list.
(Applause sign blinks, fake applause ,or it could be real, the show end in seconds)
Paul: You have to make a list!
Alan: This is Alan Kalter speaking: Good night everybody, better than mine anyway.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Late Night with David Letterman at one time was after Carson. Letterman was on a worse time slot, had a lower budget, and b team guests, In order to survive, Letterman had creative, and innovative skits. Letterman survived on some cutting edge humor. The show was better back than. Like Carson, Letterman in his later years has become crazy-glued to his chair. Dave rests on his past successes. The humor has always been a bit on the extreme; sometimes funny, other times too much. I give the show a 6 out of 10. Not bad, but not good either. I loved the new skit by Martin Short. I hope Dave keeps this up. Conan is getting more like Letterman every year by becoming more glued to his chair. Don't forget what got you there guys!
This is hands down the most cool, funny, entertaining talk show that has ever been on television!! Most TV shows only wish they were half this good. If the greedy execs at NBC ever decide to release these episodes, be sure and check it out! That's all that needs to be said really.
And that includes Dave's current show on CBS (they're basically the same, except for the set, crew, and name). Nothing against Carson, but Dave is the best ever. Everything you're watching today, Dave did it first, and best. He's still going, and he hasn't lost his ability to make people laugh. Craig and Conan are okay, Leno is awful, but Dave leaves everyone in the dust. Frankly, I'm glad Dave moved to CBS, if NBC thought that Leno should take over Carson's job even though Dave deserved it, then it was obvious that he was too good for the channel. I'm willing to bet he'll be around for a good many more years, thankfully.
I will freely admit that this show owed a lot of its silliness to its predecessors--especially Steve Allen's TONIGHT SHOW--who was the first to do many of the things Letterman later did (such as the jello vat). But, despite this, it was a relatively fresh and very funny show---complete with lots of funny things above and beyond the celebrity interviews. Who can forget "Monkey Cam"--a chimp on roller skates zipping around the skit on ramps? Or Chris Elliot's "MAN UNDER THE STAIRS" or "THE FUGITIVE GUY"? Or Dave walking around the city and meeting "Mr. Eggroll" and his wife "Mrs. Eggroll" and then stopping for PIZZADONUTS?! Or the wonderful Christmas presents created by his staff--I especially loved the "rabid dog shave cream dispenser" and the "Joe Theisman pencil sharpener"--complete with his broken leg as the crank! But, after a while, he just looked pretty grumpy and did self-parody. It was like he was "phoning in the episodes" and the banter between him and the horribly unfunny Paul Shaffer was just becoming tedious. And for me, as Letterman's interest waned, so did mine. Stick to the first few seasons.
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