David Letterman hosted the Late Show for the last time seven years ago today

Originally published at: David Letterman hosted the Late Show for the last time seven years ago today | Boing Boing

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Only seven years eh? Seems like it would take longer just to grow that beard.


I’ve read that the NYC diorama behind him was unceremoniously taken to the trash after the show wrapped. It seems like it should have been preserved somewhere.


Like this?


The Tonight Show probably does have a more significant legacy, but that would be the show itself, not Leno. I think Johnny Carson is usually considered the definitive Tonight Show host. (But then perhaps that’s because the people who saw Jack Parr are increasingly no longer with us…)

I thought Leno was very funny. Before he got the Tonight Show gig. Getting that job seemed to suck all the humor out of him.


I grew up with Johnny Carson, that said I’ve never been a late night TV watcher, but Carson killed it just about anytime I did watch. What came after that [Carson era] is a mish-mash of comedy/news/tragedy wrapped into a late night show.


We lost a lot more than humour with Johnny Carson. He was a skeptical rationalist thinker and he made that a big part of his show. He would challenge guests on pseudoscientific beliefs, he asked intelligent questions of scientists and science communicators like Carl Sagan, and so on. We need people like that more than ever now. We have enough plain old comedians. Johnny was so much more. He made the world a smarter place every night.


I read an article at the time of his departure from TV, he said he read cover to cover every major and some not so major newspapers everyday, I took it to mean he was a veracious information consumer, I liked that about him too.


Yeah but he was also a sexist asshole, a royal pain to work with if you were a woman. Not a hero in my book.

According to Nell Scovell, who wrote for Late Night in the 1990s, the host did just that. Writing for Vanity Fair in 2009, she said Letterman’s trysts with female staffers—which, apparently, weren’t limited to just Hester and Birkitt—made working for him uncomfortable. So uncomfortable, in fact, that she ultimately “walked away from her dream job.”

“There’s a subset of sexual harassment called sexual favoritism that, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, can lead to a ‘hostile work environment,’ often ‘creating an atmosphere that is demeaning to women,’” Scovell wrote. “And that pretty much sums up my experience at Late Night with David Letterman .”


There’s a world of difference between a joke teller and a quick wit. Carson was generally funnier than anyone on his show - a trait he shared with Parr.


You were in the theatre on his final show? I’d love to hear your impressions of the experience. Norm Macdonald’s performance alone must have been incredible.


I’ve always been impressed Dave went from TeeVee weatherman to TeeVee funny guy.

Many late night laughs watching him.


With a brief stop on daytime. I remember in grade school catching his show a couple of times when it was in the morning and while it was mostly playing it straight there was just something that seemed special and elevated above the typical daytime fare at the time. I was pleasantly surprised a couple years later when I discovered his late night show. All through junior high/high school most nights I snuck up to watch and tried to get through the school day on 5 hours sleep.

But my fandom did not survive his change to CBS. His schtick, IMO, didn’t really work at the “classier” timeslot/venue. Luckily Conan came along and filled that itch.


While I’m sure they’ve always had interview prep and all one thing really striking about watching 70s Carson is that it’s not just pre-agreed set-up/celebrity anecdote over and over, as has been the style for a couple decades now. He actually has a conversation, thinks on his feet.

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I don’t know… Colbert tends to have on some smart folks and asks good questions…


…which would make him not a plain old comedian?

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Sure, but I thought you were lamenting the lack of smart folks in late night… I was just pointing out that Colbert tends towards more like what Carson would regularly do and he’s on late night.

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