Thursday, May 21, 2015

Bye, David Letterman, and Thanks!

That's it.  That's all she wrote.  David Letterman is off the air.

I haven't been able to watch the Late show over the last 30 years as much as I wanted to.  Sometimes I've worked nights, and other times, I was just too tired, and had to get up too early in the mornings to watch Dave's show.  In the time since Dave started his show, we've had the advent of both the internet, and cell phones, and eventually there was DVR.  I just got DVR a few months ago, sad to say, and Dave was around before DVR, so frankly, if you missed his show back in the early days, that was it.  You missed it.  Before hearing about Dave's retirement, I hadn't watched the Late Show in so long, that the last I had heard, Dave's kid had just been born, and this was a couple years after his quintuple bypass.  Of the 6,028 shows Dave said he has done, I've probably missed about 5,900 of them.  Still, whether Dave was "mailing it in" or not, they've always been entertaining.

Recently, watching the last few weeks of Dave's show, I learned a few things.  Dave's been doing talk shows since I was ten years old.  That's right, while Dave was busy making the nation chuckle on one of the 4 to 5 TV channels we actually had back then, I was probably beating Space Invaders on my Atari 2600 and playing too much Dungeons & Dragons.  I don't know what possesses a man to spend 35 years doing essentially the same thing night after night, but I'm glad he did.  Come to think of it, I've been playing computer games since I was ten, so I can tell you why Dave did the same thing for 35 years.  It was fun.  Or at least, that's why I still play computer games, and with any luck, I'll still be playing them 35 years from now.

When I was ten, I didn't think much about celebrities, or Hollywood, or David Letterman.  We didn't have the internet back then, so any information I heard about celebrities usually came through Johnny Carson.  I'm pretty sure my dreams back then were limited to sneaking a look at a Playboy magazine, and playing a character in D&D who wielded a club topped with a skull.  Hey, I was ten.  My dreams were pretty normal for a nerdy geek back then.

As anyone in Hollywood would tell you a decade ago, once you were on Late Night with David Letterman, you'd made it in show business.  Once I reached adulthood, it was one of my dreams to finally appear on David Letterman's show in some capacity.  Several times over the years, when I have been particularly amusing, my friends have suggested that I write jokes for David Letterman.  I always took that as the highest praise, and if I hadn't become such a worthless slacker as an adult, I might have actually achieved that goal, or achieved my small dream of appearing on the Late Show in some capacity.  That dream has now perished, with David Letterman's final sign-off.  However, I recently played a character in D&D who actually got a club with a skull on it, so I guess it's true what they say.  When one door closes, another door opens.  So, at least one of my childhood dreams was achieved.  I can take some infinitesimally small solace in that.

Tuesday night's Late Show featured Bill Murray, who I've thought was hilarious since Meatballs (1979).  I've loved him in pretty much every comedy I have ever seen him in, and watching Murray and Letterman tuesday night was almost painful.  From the time Bill came crashing through a cake, to the time he ran from the Ed Sullivan Theater, wiping tears from his eyes, I knew how broken up Bill was about Dave retiring.  Or, maybe Murray was just wiping the cake out of his eyes.  The way Dave asked Bill how he was doing, I got the impression that Dave wanted to just do one final sit-down chat with an old friend, to just shoot the breeze for a few minutes, before all the emotion and huzzah of his last show.  I don't think Bill could handle it, though.  Bill went out into the street and tried to get a crowd to chant "all we are asking, is more Worldwide Pants (Dave's production company, who makes the Late Show)," but I think the crowd was too busy trying to get selfies with Bill Murray to follow along.  Dave, for his part, took it all in stride.  I got the feeling that he was disappointed with not being able to just sit and chat with Murray for a bit, but he soldiered on, the 33-year veteran that he is.

Last night's final show was all recaps, vignettes and looks back over the years, which was totally expected, with one final top ten list delivered by a bunch of Late Show regulars, including Bill Murray and Steve Martin.  Letterman's final musical act was the Foo Fighters, who played for a good ten minutes after Dave's final good-night.  And that was it.  Dave was gone.  No final announcement by Alan Kalter, no musical flare by Paul Shaffer and the CBS orchestra.  We were just off and running into the next show, and I was left with Letterman's comment from a couple weeks ago about the Foo Fighters.  Like Dave said, we can all sleep more soundly, knowing the Foo Fighters are out there, fighting Foo.

That's all I've got.  It's late, and I wish Dave all the best in his retirement, though I am sure he'll never read this blog.  I've heard he's got a vacation home in St. Barts, and though I have no idea where that is, I bet it's warm.  I shall forevermore picture Dave lounging on a beach somewhere with his family, calmly sipping a frosty alcoholic beverage, and enjoying his much-deserved relaxation.

Farewell, David Letterman, you will be missed.  At least until you decide retirement is boring, and come back.

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