you think about it, it's pretty cool having your own
weekly column. No, not the actual writing part because,
let's face it, that gets tedious. What's really awesome
is trying to gauge what your audience's reaction will be.
It's the excitement you feel when you come up with an
exceptionally funny joke or the perfect reference or when
you're able to tackle a subject in a surprising or
unexpected manner. It's kind of like you being a mad
scientist, rubbing your hands together, laughing
maniacally: "Bwah, ha, ha. If this monster works, I
shall be a GENIUS. If I should fail, it's back to the old
After today, it really won't be back to the old drawing
board. In fact, this is my final column for
STUPIDFANTRICKS. I have had a blast these past few
months. Thanks to all of you for putting up with my
various Dave-related rants and ramblings. Kudos to grand
webmaster Matt for A) creating such a classy site and B)
giving me space to blather and spew on a weekly
basis.(Man, you still have time to change your mind about
closing down the joint).
But most of all, I'd like to thank the big guy himself,
truly the most powerful man in broadcasting.
Some moments are forever etched in
our memories. Our first kiss, our first bike, the first
time we saw David Letterman. As I rub my chin, the scene
becomes all blurry:
I was ten years old the first time I saw LATE NIGHT WITH
DAVID LETTERMAN. It was the summer of '82. He did one of
his classic LATE NIGHT New Gift Ideas segments. On that
particular night, he demonstrated the infamous
Lotion-in-a-Drawer, the fetching Zero Gravity Hat, the
limited edition Cheap Floozies of World International
Doll Set (The U.S.A.'s Carnival Midway Girl, the Hong
Kong Bar-Fly, the Amstedam Novelty Shop Clerk, and the
Jet Set's own St. Tropez Trash) and of course, the Giant
Doorknob ("In Mexico, it's El Knob Grande. Here in
the U.S., we call it the Giant Phony Doorknob, and it's a
panic. The oversized jumbo knob is much larger than it
oughta be-in fact, IT'S JUST PLAIN BIG!")
After that night, I knew I was hooked. Dave has played a
part in my turbulent teenage years, my decadent college
years, and now, my obsessive compulsive 'grown up' life.
No matter where I was, no matter what I was doing,
through good times and bad, he's been my nightly fix.
For a short period of time, the E! Channel carried reruns
of the old NBC show. And their commercials had a tag line
slogan that I think is incredibly appropriate: "It's
more than just a TV show, it's a nightly cry for
help." I always like that.
A few years ago, Pete Hamill wrote a book explaining WHY
SINATRA MATTERS. It was his thesis that if you were able
to get beyond all of the superficial trappings of Frank:
the duds, the dudes, the dames, the Rat Pack, the clap
trap, the clap, gams, gats, Gambinos, whatever. What you
were left with was a whole lot of beautiful music.
Everything else was just a whole lot of Hey-Hey and you
could tell them Jilly sent ya. What truly mattered
was the fact the boy could sing and swing like an angel.
Am I going to compare the Chairman of the Board with the
Most Powerful Man in Show Business? No. Even a committed
Frank-o-phile like Paul Shaffer knows that's apples and
oranges. Sinatra manufactured an image of himself as a
hard living, hard loving, two fisted swinger. It was all
a ruse to cover up his warm, gooey romantic side. He
could sing a love song that could break your heart
because, indeed, his heart had been broken. But as a
tough guy, he was strictly a poser, a wannabe Tough Guy.
Dave Letterman, America's Cynic Laureate, might be
considered a wannabe Wise Guy. Let's face facts: Dave's
never been considered what one would consider a warm and
fuzzy type of guy. He holds his audience at arms length
and loves to jokingly paint himself as a reclusive
misanthrope with no life outside of work. The Master of
detached irony, the uber outsider. Yet he was the first
one out of the box after 9/11. He was the one who flew to
Kandahar for Christmas Eve with cigars, 5,000 T-shirts,
Paul and Biff (and absolutely no video cameras). For
someone who has been derided for being cool, detached,
and aloof, the guy shows a lot of heart.
"We know the show is tired;
it's the same crap night after night. But here's the
thing: We just don't care!" -Dave Letterman.
Au Contraire, Dave.
Although he's regularly (and shockingly) trounced in the
ratings by Jay Leno's increasingly dumbed down, humor
free, carny minded TONIGHT SHOW, he refuses to pander to
the lowest common denominator. Fueled by his own
determination that TV should be better and unwilling to
blunt his own hard edge, Dave's succeeded in creating
comedy that is both comforting and audacious. Critic Ken
Tucker, in a somewhat infamous SALON profile called
Letterman "the Leon Trotsky of Talk: The Last Late
Night Revolutionary." Now, I like Jimmy Kimmel but I
can't picture anyone`comparing him with Trotsky.
Simply put, David Letterman IS Johnny Carson's equal. He
doesn't just preside over a talk show, he's created an
hour that feels like nothing else around it. The LATE
SHOW is a mood and an attitude; it makes you feel like
you're part of a big in-joke going on at the expense of
authority figures and the 'colossal boobs' the whole
world over. He makes you feel like you're part of an
exclusive club, Cap't Dave's Komedy Klubhouse, where it's
just you and a couple million of your closest friends.
Letterman gave an old reliable TV format (late night
talk) a kick in the head with a sense of humor more
attuned to SNL and Monty Python than it was to Vegas and
the Catskills. He made the world a safe place for irony
and for fellow smartasses like me.
I first saw Letterman in 1982. He must have been already
comfy cozy even back then, hiding behind his patented
armor of flipness. But he grew up and matured both as a
broadcaster and as a person. Despite his frequent (and
funny) jibs at CBS, he has been an exemplary team captain
for his second network. He's still a pest when he wants
to be (Oprah, she's got all the money) but age has
brought out both a graciousness in him and allowed him to
reveal the hidden side of him, the humanity.
To other comics, that may be the kiss of death. But Dave
is just as acerbic, bitter, and persnickety as all get
out. The David Letterman that I witnessed as an
impressionable ten year old was pretty damn cool. But the
David Letterman of today has become TV's most beloved
SO MONEY, BABY
LETTERMAN: LADIES MAN
IT ON THE CHIN
WITH THE DIGITS
OF A DORKY MIND
WISOM FROM DR. DAVE
NIGHT DAVE VS. LATE SHOW DAVE
A BOX OF