I promised myself I wouldn't do it. No way, no how. But as the days become shorter and the departure of David Letterman from America's idiot box becomes closer and closer, I can't help myself. I am already feeling the loss of a man I have watched on TV for over 30 years. Let me say before I get too far into this farewell to Dave thing, I am and always will be a Johnny Carson fan. He was and always will be the "King of Late Night". Every joke or quick-witted comeback I have ever used in my life has had it's genesis in Johnny Carson's monologue or a comeback he made to a dickhead guest who was only there to sale a sitcom or try and out-funny the host.
Of course, that's what late night shows are for. To talk about an upcoming movie or TV show and, with Johnny anyway, hawk a book sometimes. There are very few authors on late night anymore, there just isn't time. But for 20 years or more, Johnny Carson had a 90-minute show to produce and he had plenty of airtime to fill. For some, me included, this was the best part of the show. It was the last thirty minutes when most kids were in bed that the censors lightened up and let Johnny get away with many bawdy comebacks and jokes. If they loosened up on Carson after midnight, you can only imagine what they let Letterman get away with in the wee hours of the morning and he and his writers took full advantage of it.
I began watching Carson when I was old enough to crawl down the stairs at night and sneak a peek while my parents watched. I was was the happiest man on earth when some company invented the DVR so I could tape both Johnny and Dave to watch the next day. When Bette Midler sang Johnny off the air on his final show, I sat in my chair and cried like a two-year old. I doubt I cry over Dave, but I might. He has given me so much pleasure and full throated laughs over the last 30 years that he deserves all the hullabaloo that is going on around him.
With me, it was his irreverent humor, actually going out on the streets and screwing with people with the Hello Deli guy. You couldn't go to bed early on Dave either, because most of the time he had a kick-ass rock band ready to close the show. Some famous, some only famous the next day after debuting on his stage. His love of Rock & Roll is legendary. He had on every band that mattered during the 33 years he and Paul Shaffer and his band were on, and Paul's band plays the Hall of Fame gig every year. Like Carson, many young comedians got their start on Letterman. Comedian Norm McDonald actually broke down and cried on his farewell show last week. Dave made late night "cool" for the in-crowd and the hippies, and if you came onto his show just to shill a movie and had no sense of humor about it, he would cut into you like a Shinzo knife cuts into a steak and leave you at the mercy of the audience.
I will miss Dave. Yes, I call him Dave. Only his Mother calls him David and like the midwestern kid he is, he made sure she was part of the show for all these years, even sending her to the 94' Winter Olympics to give us the latest updates. Stupid Pet Tricks? Don't get me started. Stupid Human Tricks? Oh Vey. Then there was the Top 10 List, a list that he made so popular that there isn't a magazine or newspaper anywhere that doesn't use it from time to time. Dave, much like Carson, was and is a private man and I believe, like Carson, you won't be seeing much of Dave when he departs. That's how it should be. No one should keep themselves in the spotlight when their time is at an end, not even "a monkey on a rock", right Dave? So long my man, long may you run~~