williamallenpepper

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GOOD NIGHT, DAVE

david-letterman-retirement

We’re running out of famous Daves

David Brenner. David Brinkley. Super Dave Osborne. Dave Thomas (the fast food one AND the comedian). Even the Famous Dave cookie guy is gone. I think. I could google it, but, you know, lazy.

And now Dave Letterman is retiring. May 20 will be the last “Late Show”. After he’s gone, who’s left for the Dave contingent? Duchovny? Tennant? Grohl?

All good Daves, but none as cool as Dave Letterman.

Honestly, I haven’t watched much “Late Show” the last few years. I kind of got bored with the late night talk show format. But back in the day, I thought these shows were awesome, especially Carson and Letterman. Of course, when I was a kid, they WERE the only late night talk shows. No Jimmys. No John Stewarts. Just those two. And they were plenty.

I loved to watch Carson long before I understood the jokes. And when, in my teens, Letterman came along with his “stupid pet tricks”, Velcro suits, and throwing things off tall buildings just ’cause it was cool, I was all in on the late night format. Plus, Letterman had no fucks to give long before it was fashionable. He said whatever he thought was funny, even if it was only funny to himself. I admired that.

On summer vacations from school, my friend Bob and I would stay up late to watch Letterman’s show (no DVRs back in the day), then critique the show’s comedy bits next day over games of pool. Bob went into broadcasting and I’m a writer now. Coincidence?

But eventually, in the later years of the NBC show, not giving f’s gave way to just being cranky. His heart maybe wasn’t into it so much for a while there, but I stuck with Dave.

He moved to CBS, a host reborn. He was energized, having a great time, trying to put on a great show, even while he refused to kiss ass, like some other late night hosts.

And then….the cranky, bored Dave came back. The show wasn’t as fun anymore. Other shows and interests came along and I stopped watching. Dave, meanwhile, left for a while and had bypass surgery. He came back, had a son and weathered a sex scandal.

I started watching again, sometimes. And something happened. We got post-modern Dave. He’s older and grayer and doesn’t suit up in Velcro or alka-seltzer anymore. But he’s been having fun again. Especially since the announcement of his retirement, Dave is loose and funny and frequently…kind?

I’d like to keep watching this iteration of Letterman, but it’s over. I’m excited to see what Colbert does with the show, but he probably won’t throw any pencils through fake glass windows, won’t do any top ten lists. Carson, Stewart, Ferguson. Everyone’s going. Or already gone.

But I think Dave is the one I’ll miss the most.

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