Goodbye Dave! After 33 years hosting late night television, tonight David Letterman pulls off the ultimate “Stupid Human Trick”__he’s vanishing from the airwaves. In honor of his last show, here are my top ten memories of Letterman’s late night run:
10—Legendary singer Darlene Love, backed by Paul Shaffer’s terrific band, belting out “Baby Please Come Home” every year at Christmas for three decades.
9—The “Fun With Rupert” segments, in which mild-mannered “Hello Deli” proprietor Rupert Jee would ask passersby obnoxious questions suggested by Letterman, hidden away in a nearby parked van. The bit comes to an abrupt halt when someone pulls a knife on Rupert.
8—Letterman’s return to the air less than a week after the 9-11 terrorist attacks, an inspiring night in which Dave salutes New York firefighters, police and NYC Mayor Rudolph Guiliani, previously the butt of Dave’s barbs. “We were told that they (the terrorists) were zealots fueled by religious fervor,” Letterman says, “and if you live to be a thousand years, will that make any sense to you?”
7—Actor Joaquin Phoenix shows up with a bushy beard, mumbles his answers and appears close to passing out. Dave ends the interview with “Joaquin, I’m sorry you couldn’t be here tonight.”
6—Dave’s integrity in not exploiting the O.J. Simpson murder trial for cheap laughs, while Jay Leno and others have no problem doing so.
5—Letterman devotes an entire show to his dying singer-songwriter friend Warren Zevon, despite knowing it would cost him in ratings.
4–A German shepherd reads poetry, a pit bull bowls a strike, a border collie jumps rope “double dutch”, a labrador retriever dances the merengue__yes, I’m really going to miss Stupid Pet Tricks!
3—Getting to know Mujibur and Sirajul, immigrants from Bangladesh who work at a nearby souvenir shop and are recruited by Dave to do comedy bits. They are sent on a U.S. tour, greeted as celebrities and serve as Late Show correspondents at Super Bowl XXIX.
2—On his first show back after quintuple bypass surgery, Dave brings the doctors who operated on him onstage to thank them publicly. “I couldn’t have been prouder when these guys carved their initials in me,” says Letterman.
1—That despite network pressure, Dave keeps The Late Show With David Letterman in New York City for its entire run!