I guess to some extent we live vicariously through the entertainers we like and we do this because we admire them and we admire them because we relate to them in some way....I related to David Letterman’s attitude and sense of humor and would say he definitely had an influence on me, the way I saw the world, as much influence as an entertainer can have anyway. I hate pretense, I hate Hollywood, I like absurdity and non sequiters and finding humor in real life things.
I remember before VCR’s in the late 70’s when I was about 11 or 12, my father would sometimes stay up and watch the Tonight Show and he would tape it using a tape recorder and I would listen to it the next day after coming home from school (I wasn’t allowed to stay up on school nights). That was the first time I heard David Letterman as he was Johnny Carson’s fill in host.
It of course helped later when I was in high school that he had first a great morning show that only lasted a few months but set down many of the blueprints for what he would do later and then his NBC show which was his finest hour. It also helped that he surrounded himself with kindred souls and/or staff writer creations such as Bud Melman, Chris Elliott, Al Frisch ( who hasn’t been mentioned much since he retired in the late 80’s but who was just as much a deconstruction as Melman) not to mention Paul Shaffer and Andy Kaufman who was Dave’s best guest in IMO .
His finale tonight was self-deprecating and not very sentimental. Just a solid show, the kind he could probably do in his sleep at this point and that was enough.
I wrote this when I first heard about Dave’s retirement and I think it sums up more in detail my feelings about his career.