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FILE UNDER: WRITTEN BY XANDER

After a six month build up, Dr. Phil finally paid a house call to the LATE SHOW Monday night. But if Dave was really looking for true words of enlightenment, he should have waited for Tuesday's appearance of Double Down Trent (the SWINGERS alter ego of actor Vince Vaughn).

DAVE IS SO MONEY, BABY

As battles went, I think you could call this one a draw. I really enjoyed seeing Phil McGraw make his belated appearance with Dave. I feel both men composed themselves with intelligence and good humor. But rabble rouser that I am, I was just expecting more fireworks.

I used to love John Belushi on SNL's Weekend Update. He'd appear doing one of his commentaries, pieces that started out on a calm and reasoned note and then rapidly degenerate into a mad tirade-ultimately culminating with Belushi clutching his chest, twirling off his chair, and vanishing behind the Update desk. I guess I wanted something like that to happen on the LATE SHOW.

To be honest, I've only seen Dr. Phil's show a couple of times. So I can't speak with any real authority regarding his so-called 'bedside manner' or about his ability to run a show. And I must say I do have a certain bias. Ever since the movie REPO MAN, I've been followed by the odd "Plate O' Shrimp" phenomena, which is a study in small blots of the daily miraculous. "You know how you're thinking about a Plate O' Shrimp, then someones says "Plate O' Shrimp" and then you see a sign that says: Plate O' Shrimp?" sayeth the Repo Man. Dr. Phil McGraw, dear readers, is my personal Plate O' Shrimp.

It seems like everytime I go into a grocery store, I see Dr. Phil. He's the guy who sacks my groceries and makes certain the carton of eggs is at the bottom. He's the dude at the local Costco who rolls his eyes when I buy that extra large box of condoms. I'm sorry, he just has that kind of face.

For that reason and that reason alone, I really wanted Dave to rip him a new one.

But I noticed in the nights leading up to the good doctor's appearance, Dave's mood softened. Instead of calling the former Mr. Oprah: "a hump," "a quack," or some "evil genius," Dave seemed much more sanguine. It was almost heartbreaking. It seemed like he wanted someone to 'fix' him, to somehow find a cure for his essential 'Daveness.' And the scary thing was that he thought Dr. Phil was the right man for the job.

I'll give you this. Phil's good but he ain't no miracle worker. I don't think anyone would disagree with his diagnosis of the big guy. It took the doctor fifteen to twenty seconds to diagnose Letterman as a) a neurotic and b) a psychotic. Estimated fixin' time: fifteen to twenty years. That sounds about right. But as much as I agree with his findings, I think Dr. Phil is the wrong man for the job.      

My favorite movie of all time is SWINGERS. It's one of my few pleasures that I don't  have to assigned the adjective 'guilty' to do it justice. It features perhaps the quintessential Vince Vaughn performance as noted 'wing' man, Double Down Trent.

I can see definite similarities between our man Dave and Jon Favreau's Mikey. They're both professional comedians (albeit Dave is, of course, more successful), they're both the 'real deal' in an industry full of posers. Most importantly, they're both "money" yet they don't know it.

As Johnny Carson got older, he took on the role of a trusted member of the family. This could easily be death for a comedian but Johnny was too classy and modest not to handle it with grace. Dave is like every family's crazy uncle. A little loud,
a little aloof but the favorite of kids and dogs. Somehow, it suits him.

My favorite quote from SWINGERS comes from a rant by Trent towards his neurotic bud, Mikey:

"I don't want you to be the guy in the PG-13 movie everyone's REALLY hoping make it happen. I want you to be like the guy in the rated "R" movie, you know? The guy you're not sure whether or not you like yet. You're not sure where he's coming from. Okay? You're a bad man. A very bad man."

Now Dave's definitely not a bad man. But at his best, he's a puzzle disguised as an enigma wrapped up in a big honking sack of nutsy. Mental health be damned. I hope Dave many more years of neuroses. Nobody does 'cranky, moody, antisociaI misanthrope' with more dedication and attention to detail than Letterman. And to be perfectly honest, I don't think he'd have it any other way.

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