‘Round midnight

I don’t watch much late night tv anymore, and I never liked Dave as much at 11:30 as at 12:30, but he was one of my two biggest influences in my teen years. (I won’t tell you who the other one is since I know many of you don’t like her.) I’m sad to hear he’s retiring.

I guess my favorite bits were the crazy Chris Elliot appearances and the recurring characters Father Biff and Dwight the Troubled Teen. I also always loved the music, whether it was the musical guests or Paul’s choice of songs for interview guests — “The Clean-Up Woman” for Martha Stewart and “Tennessee” for Al Gore stand out.

Here’s two of my favorite musical moments: Warren Zevon’s last live performance and Bill Murray’s appearance as the 12:30 show’s first guest ever.






37 replies
  1. 1
    different-church-lady says:

    I just hope there’s no ugly custody battle over Paul Shaffer.

  2. 2
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    I won’t tell you who the other one is since I know many of you don’t like her.

    Maureen Dowd?

  3. 3
    Marc says:

    he was one of my two biggest influences in my teen years. (I won’t tell you who the other one is since I know many of you don’t like her.)

    Jane Hamsher?

  4. 4
    Ben Cisco says:

    Haven’t seen Dave in some time.

    I remember when David Sanborn used to sit in with the band. Became a great fan of his work in part b/c of that.

    Didn’t realize Letterman was getting to be that old. Guess he’s earned his rest.

    May the Prophets guide your path, Dave.

  5. 5
    daveNYC says:

    I always liked Letterman’s interviews. He always seemed to have a genuine interest (or complete lack of interest, or hatred) in his guests. It made things uneven, but much more interesting than Leno’s bland politeness.

  6. 6
    SatanicPanic says:

    I won’t tell you who the other one is since I know many of you don’t like her

    Alexandra Petri

  7. 7
    Napoleon says:

    I remember watching Dave when he had a morning show on days I did not have a morning class in college. That show was the greatest.

  8. 8
  9. 9
    DougJ says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    Pauline Kael.

  10. 10
    DougJ says:

    @daveNYC:

    Leno’s a terrible interviewer. The David Gregory of late night tv.

  11. 11
    John Weiss says:

    Very early in his career, he had a show I saw while sojurning in White Plains. His whole stick for days was ‘Waiting for the Cable Man’. It looked as if it was shot at his house. It was very amusing.

  12. 12
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @DougJ: Okay, fine. Our guesses were more amusing. I was going to go with Camille Paglia next.

  13. 13
    Elizabelle says:

    Larry Budd Melman.

    Handing out hot towels at the Port Authority bus terminal.

  14. 14
    Elizabelle says:

    @DougJ:

    Interesting.

    Time to do some rereading of Pauline Kael. When she was on, she was on.

    Didn’t she get into trouble for not liking “The Sound of Music”?

  15. 15
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Elizabelle:

    I say this as a film major — one of the things that drives me nuts about Kael (I was too young to read her in her heyday) is that she refused to watch films more than once and, as a consequence, often got pretty basic facts wrong. Her essay about Citizen Kane is just embarrassing since she mixes up characters and gets important plot points wrong.

    She did do a lot to make popular film criticism respectable, though, so we have to give her that.

  16. 16
    Elizabelle says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    I shall hunt down that Citizen Kane review. Wonder if it’s in any of her “collected works” volumes.

    Can still find P Kael in the library, and I had a book or two of hers years ago. She’s a writer who keeps your attention, whether you agree with her or not. (She was writing about movies I wasn’t old enough to see yet; was reading her in junior high …)

    I never read Roger Ebert that much during his lifetime; lots of his books in the library BUT have learned to see the movie first and then read because he gives away most or all of the plot in a lot of reviews. I guess they were meant to be read by those who’d already seen the flick?

    Ebert’s a great and generous film geek, though. Gracious man; it shines through.

  17. 17
    Bobby Thomson says:

    @DougJ: Nobody I know likes her.

  18. 18
    PurpleGirl says:

    I liked Letterman’s daytime show a lot. I didn’t watch the night show very much.

  19. 19
  20. 20
    the Conster says:

    Richard Simmons’ many appearances with Dave are the most surreal TV experiences I’ve ever seen. Also, the monkey cam and Rupert Jee’s shtick had me wetting my pants. Dave’s a mensch.

  21. 21
  22. 22
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @the Conster: I owe you an apology from the other night. A heated discussion/argument is one thing; a ‘fuck you” is another. For that, I apologize.

  23. 23
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @Elizabelle:

    Today is the one-year anniversary of his death. Really miss Ebert.

  24. 24
    TG Chicago says:

    I also always loved the music, whether it was the musical guests or Paul’s choice of songs for interview guests — “The Clean-Up Woman” for Martha Stewart and “Tennessee” for Al Gore stand out.

    I think the gold standard of that genre was “White Lines” for Cokie Roberts.

  25. 25
    DougJ says:

    @Elizabelle:

    Yeah, she hated Sound of Music.

    Read her review of Nashville. It’s genius.

  26. 26
    JoeC says:

    He used to have some pretty surreal stand-ups on there, my favorite was Brother Theodore…

  27. 27
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @DougJ:

    Yeah, she hated Sound of Music.

    Does anyone actually like that movie?

  28. 28
    patrick II says:

    “Cocaine” for George Carlin was my favorite.

    My favorite part of his shows became his interviews. When he talked to people he liked and were quick witted themselves like Bill Murray, Steve Martin, Tina Fey, Jennifer Lawrence, they raised the game for wit and wry fun.
    If he didn’t like you he could be harsh. I never saw Rush Limbaugh again on a late night show after Dave ripped him open — while smiling. (“Do you ever think of yourself as just a big bag of hot air?”)
    Any, I will miss him.

  29. 29
    Elizabelle says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    Me! Me! First movie I was ever taken to. Raindrops on roses … know all the words by heart, to all the songs.

    @SiubhanDuinne:

    I did not know that. RIP Mr. Ebert. Surprising it has been a year.

  30. 30
    Elizabelle says:

    @patrick II:

    The Rush Limbaugh interview.

    Yes indeedy. If memory serves: Rush said something disparaging about Hillary Clinton’s looks — I think he compared her to a hood ornament on a Pontiac or something — and Dave was right back at him: “That must be doubly insulting coming from such a fine physical specimen as yourself.”

    Here’s what might be a link to the interview, from 1993. Watching it now to see if I remembered the exchange correctly.

  31. 31
    Helen says:

    @Elizabelle: Funny you should link to his obit. One of the funniest things Dave ever did was a whole montage to him, like they do at the Academy awards with the sad music. The crowd was so sad and shocked. The joke: Dave did it before Melman died! And at the end Melman came out and said “I’m not dead, you idiot”

    Freaking hilarious.

  32. 32
    Elizabelle says:

    @Elizabelle:

    That link didn’t work, but here’s the Letterman-Limbaugh transcript from 1993.

    Limbaugh’s been consistent.

    http://www.oocities.org/davidl.....cript.html

  33. 33
    the Conster says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    Thanks.

  34. 34
    Elizabelle says:

    @Helen: How funny. Wonder if the audience knew LBM was still with us.

  35. 35
    patrick II says:

    @Elizabelle:

    Thanks. I was looking for a youtube to confirm my memory, but your link to the transcript was fine.

  36. 36
    Tom says:

    Late Night with David Letterman was Dave’s 12:30 AM show after the Tonight Show. The show had an edge and was a much different animal from The Late Show.

    Chris Elliot, dropping watermelons off of tall buildings, Larry Bud Mellman, the Alka Seltzer suit…I could go on and on. What a great show. I discovered it in the summer of 1986 when I was 17. I was hooked. I don’t think there’s been anything else like it. I miss that show.

  37. 37
    Tom says:

    Late Night with David Letterman was Dave’s 12:30 AM show after the Tonight Show. The showhad an edge and was a much different animal from The Late Show.

    Chris Elliot, dropping watermelons off of tall buildings, Larry Bud Mellman, the Alka Seltzer suit…I could go on and on. Whtat a great show. I discovered the show in the summer of 1986 when I was 17. Good stuff.

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