Last night ended an era in late night TV. David Letter has officially retired.
I’ll admit it… I’ve been a fan of David Letterman since I was in college.
I remember taping Late Night with David Letterman every night and my room mates and I would watch it every day (in fact, some days, Letterman probably won out over going to glass.)
To be fair… we also watched Benny Hill (if that helps explain anything).
I found David Letterman to be different. He was corny. He was stupid. Kinda nerdy. Many times not funny (I think, on purpose). But it was the quirkiness and the uncomfortable moments that Dave put on-air (remember, he was the only thing on NBC at the time) that made him compelling.
About ten years ago while walking through Times Square, a Late Show intern asked my wife and I if we’d like to go see the Letterman show that afternoon. “uh- YEAH” was our response. It was unbelievably fun… and an experience that we’d repeat a couple times on our jaunt to NYC. In fact, here’s my moment with Dave and Bono. Although I told my wife not to point at the camera if we were on TV, you’ll see that I’m the one that is the one stupid person pointing at the camera.
David Letterman, of course, had some flaws during his career… most notably his admitted affair with a co-worker that almost cost him his family. In addition, Dave grew more and more opinionated and political in his later years.
But Dave ended well.
I want to end like Dave.
Here’s what stood out to me… I DVR’d his competitors this week and watched what they had to say about him.
Jimmy Fallon told of his fond memories of being on the show and how gracious Letterman was to him. (Fallon ran a re-run last night during Dave’s last show).
Conan O’Brien took most of the show to talk about Letterman and his affect on his own career. Without Letterman, Conan said, I wouldn’t be here today. In fact, O’Brien last night told his audience when the Letterman show was starting so they could change the channel.
Perhaps most compelling, Jimmy Kimmel actually broke down into tears when he spoke about Dave. (Kimmel was actually woo’d by network executives to host his own show after they had seen him appear on the Letterman show). Kimmel actually asked his audience to support Dave by watching Late Night rather then his show last night:
Translate that to a church setting.
If you were to leave your church today, how many of your colleagues would say the same types of things about you? People who do what you do; people that have watched you for years; people who live in the same space as you do. What would they say?
When asked about his retirement, Letterman said he was ‘naked and afraid’.
If you’ve ever jumped out in faith, or moved on to a new stage of your life, that pretty much sums it up.
Let’s face it… David Letterman could have stayed the host of Late Night for a few more years. In fact, it would have been comfortable to do so.
It was far more uncomfortable for Dave to leave.
But he did.
Naked and afraid, he moves on to what’s next.
Perhaps I’m a little sappy… perhaps I’m just thinking about it more since I’ve turned the big 5 – 0. But I want to end well.
And I think there’s a scripture verse somewhere about that. 🙂
While Dave’s road was rocky… he ended well.
Let us all do the same.