Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Ode to Dave Letterman: You Didn't Just Affect Comedians You Affected Your Fans Too

The Ed Sullivan Theater, Spring 2015, I knew this
marquee would be gone soon enough.
Lots of personalities on TV the past week or so have been talking about how much weatherman turned late-night talk show host David Letterman had an effect on their lives. Jimmy Kimmel tearfully explained how he got his job after being seen on Dave's show. Kathy Lee Gifford said that hosting the Late Show in Dave's absence is what made her decide to move on from Live with Regis. It seems all the late night talk shows are paying homage to what is the king of late night for a generation of boomers.

From a regular person's viewpoint, I recall watching Letterman when I was in my 20's while I working at a big PR firm in the Big Apple. I had to get up really early to catch the train, but I stayed up to watch Dave at 12:35. This means that I got to work late almost every day. 

But I needed to watch Dave. He did stupid things on his show and he made me laugh. And there is nothing better after a long stressful day in a concrete jungle, or anywhere, than falling asleep laughing.

Johnny was good, but he was a different generation than me. I liked Carnac the Magnificent and watching animals - well not really- but there was something funnier and definitely quirkier about Letterman. He spoke to me. He had animals on his show but he put cameras on them. He dropped watermelons out of windows. He ordered sandwiches from a deli and ate them. He had people and pets doing stupid things as well. And he was not afraid to use the word stupid.

But go back to the animal cams. Before the GoPro and everyone with video capability in hand, this was our first look at the world, ie, a studio audience from the perspective of a monkey. Dave was one of the first to use technology for humor. He also used technology to make people say what he wanted them to say. Think Rupert pestering people at restaurants. Think Ellen now.

Today's comedy shows, day and night. all uses pieces of what Dave did. Even comedy media, think Buzzfeed, utilized the top ten concept and ran with it.

So how did Dave affect me? I started my own business. You can't stay up till 1am and get to a 9-5 job. And going back to before the VCR, the only way to watch a show was when it was on.  

Thanks for all those years, #THANKSDAVE. I'll catch you on-demand from now on.

Here's a great stroll down memory lane with photos and videos:
                                                                                                          - Written by Suzanne Ordas Curry

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