Everybody gather 'round and I'll tell you a story about the man who changed my life. Okay, maybe not. David Letterman did give me a great reason, however, to spend three hours in the lobby of the Ed Sullivan Theater one January day in 1994. I was waiting for standby tickets with 75 or so other hopefuls. I had already seen Jay Leno live and in person a couple of years before, but that 's another story. This visit to Letterman would bookend both the country we call the USA and my late-night entertainment guru checklist.
David Letterman had just recently made the change to CBS from his NBC diggs down at Rockerfeller Center, and if I got inside for the taping I'd be checking out Dave, Paul, and guests Albus Dumbledore, David Spade, and Etta James. Well, he may be Richard Harris to you but he'll always be the goodly professor to me. On that snowy morning I was excited to be in New York City, excited to see a national fixture of television entertainment, excited to possibly be a little part of what America loves - being noticed. David Letterman was coming into his prime of being noticed. He was coming into his time as the "King of Late-night" and for good reason. CBS had provided him serious coinage to change camps, and that magic number we all bantered about was $14 million. There would be many jokes between Letterman and his guests about how much money he was rolling in as the episodes passed.
As the years have passed Letterman has increasingly struggled to stay focused on what funny means, what funny is, and leave his own personal baggage at the door. Too often we have seen a long-running comedic success story, wheather it be M*A*S*H or Cheers, or in this case a late-night desk job, turn from great writing about external events to writing about internal struggles. More and more, David Letterman has brought his personal struggles with politics, his relationships, his growing older, to the mic. Truely, this is not why people tune in every evening. There has always been news avenues replete with ways humans are laughing together at the human condition. But as we get older we often get aggrivated at the direction life is taking and take our anger out in a selfish and joking manner. The fact that these sexual relationships have now surfaced on top of the decline in Letterman's quality of entertainment is just another sign that he (Letterman) needs to find a place to wrap it up and hand over the mic.
I loved Dave and was a loyal viewer for many years. What I loved was his entertainment and the way he performed. That has changed, and that is what we are all seeing. Some don't have those earlier years to compare with what they see now. But to know his work then, and to see it now. Well, it's just an opinion. I think Jay Leno had the right idea in his recent departure from the late-night desk. Maybe Letterman should take a que from his counterpart.