This past week marked the end of an era when late night’s elder statesman David Letterman filmed his final show. To me, it will be a sad state of affairs to be amongst a wave of rookies without a chieftain like Dave. He was very funny, incisive and openly opinionated. Critics always point to the fact that Letterman was a bridesmaid, never a bride, insofar as he was constantly laboring beneath the umbrage of Jay Leno’s ratings. However, I felt that created a freedom for Dave to not cater to network pressure and he could maintain more of his sophisticated edge. Conan O’Brien will always be my favorite talk show host but that shouldn’t diminish the contributions of Letterman who was extremely quick-witted and helped revolutionize the new talk show host format. In his honor, I’m going to list my Top 5 Lesser Known Favorite Dave Moments.
5. Beard Shaving
During the writer’s strike, Dave protested the dispute by refusing to shave his quite luxurious beard until the situation was resolved. Upon the resolution, Dave summoned barbers to shave him on-air and what resulted was proof that the atypically goofy Dave is so alacritous and sharp that he might not need staff writers after all.
4. Harvey Pekar
Even when Dave despised a guest, he could use potshots to tear them down. Whenever comic artist Harvey Pekar came on Dave’s show, he would be disruptive and controversial. Worst of all, he incurred the wrath of Dave when he questioned Dave’s function as a corporate drone. Afterwards, a visibly infuriated Dave unleashed an arsenal of barbs onto the hapless Pekar.
3. McCain Cancellation
Dave was never squeamish to voice his political beliefs on a general basis. Unlike most hosts though, Dave always did so with a satirical slant. When McCain suspended his appearances during his presidential campaign, Dave felt so affronted by the news that he bombarded both McCain and his running mate Sarah Palin which sparked a feud that would continue for years.
2. Letterman on Leno-
One thing I find irresistible and taboo is when Dave mercilessly attacks his late-night nemesis Jay Leno. His high-pitched impression is priceless and it showed the human side of Dave which we could relate to- a bitterness towards Jay for being passed over for promotion.
1. Johnny Carson Passes Away
Dave left his flagship show without a whimper or a whiff of sentiment. He wanted to maintain the integrity of the show as a comedic usher into the next day rather than drown in a pool of mawkishness. It was gratifying when Dave wore his emotions on his sleeve however when his forefather and role model Johnny Carson passed away. For a man not known for outward empathy, Dave certainly shed his ego to show his soft underbelly.