Late-Night Institution David Letterman Will Announce His Retirement on Tonight's 'Late Show'
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Late-Night Institution David Letterman Will Announce His Retirement on Tonight's 'Late Show'

By Dustin Rowles | Trade News | April 3, 2014 | Comments ()

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In 7th grade, my first ever girlfriend and I used to stay up late each night talking on the phone, watching Late Night with David Letterman together. They were the most awkwardly silent phone conversations you could possibly imagine, because for an hour every weeknight, neither one of us would speak. We’d just watch Letterman, and the only sounds you’d hear on either side of the phone were those of occasional laughter. Afterwards, we’d spend another hour processing what we’d just watched.

Later on, in high school, my best friend and I (who would later start this site with me) would put on our own version of Late Night each summer using a camcorder, editing it together with two VCRs and a lot of cables. I was Dave. He was the Hal Gurnee, the old director of Late Night. It was our secret dream that our show would be good enough that Letterman would see it and invite us onto the show. It never was. In fact, it was lousy, as our remote segments mostly involved me going to yard sales and making fun of the merchandise. But our entire friendship had basically been forged around a common obsession with David Letterman, a rarity those days for two poor kids in a small town in that part of the country.

In tonight’s show, Letterman will announce his retirement, effective in 2015 when his contract expires. It’s been an amazing, ground-breaking career, and the people that hold the other slots in late night owe a great debt to his influence. But Dave is 67. Fallon and Kimmel have transformed the game. He no longer has his foe, in Jay Leno, to keep him competitive. Even late-night television has mostly moved onto the Internet, although it is a little ironic that Letterman’s remote segments in the 80s would have probably been huge viral sensations had YouTube existed then.

It’s a bittersweet day, but I think we were all blessed with the fact that a gap-toothed weatherman from Indiana managed to stay on late night for 33 years.

There’s no word on a replacement, and to be honest, I hope the speculation doesn’t begin in earnest at least until Dave makes it official on his show tonight.

Source: Twitter

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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • damnitjanet

    Dave has projected a great image of my home state, and my daughter's soon-to-be alma mater (as well as Dave's) over all of these years. We're not all in-bred hilljacks. Some of us start out as smart-ass weathermen, predicting hail the size of canned hams, and go on to be one of the funniest men in 'murica. Thanks, Dave.

  • PooPooNumber2

    I hear Conan may take over, which sounds good to me I think conan is the best. Those remotes he does are hilarious and serious jibber-jabber is amazing.

  • Fleetwood Mac Sex Pants

    Nooooooooooo! I knew it was coming, of course, but NO. One of my goals in life for years has been to get to Letterman to watch a taping of the annual Christmas Eve show. I want to see him and Jay Thomas knock the meatball off the top of the Christmas tree, and hear the story of the Lone Ranger all over again, and hear Darlene Love sing "Baby, Please Come Home" as only she can. And I don't think I'll make it this year and that's probably the last time it will happen and omg this is making me so, so sad! I know why he's leaving and it's probably the right time, but wow, will Dave be missed.

  • kdm

    I read somewhere that Craig Ferguson has a right of first refusal clause for the Tonight Show in his contract. No idea if that's true, but I would be ok with him as the replacement.

  • This 2011 interview says he doesn't want the gig. However a lot can change in three years.

  • John G.

    OH NO!!!!

    oh wait, I don't give a fuck.

  • Sean

    Viacom will move Jon Stewart to that job.

  • cruzzercruz

    I really hope they don't go for either Colbert or Stewart. I love them, but they're doing good work on their respective shows and don't need to focus on the mundane parts of late night.

  • e jerry powell

    Except that Viacom doesn't own CBS anymore; CBS Corporation was spun off in 2006. CBS Corporation has Showtime and all the over-the-air broadcasting; Viacom has MTV Networks (Comedy Central lives here), BET, and Paramount.

    Call it the continuing fallout from Janet Jackson's breast falling out.

  • CBS has already released the video of the announcement, so I will begin the speculation and nominate Patton Oswalt.

  • e jerry powell

    Do we really want Patton Oswalt and Jimmy Kimmel on in the same timeslot?

  • Why not. It might spark a new late night "war"

  • e jerry powell

    That's so nineties.

  • Hey, the Cold War is coming back into fashion, why not do the same thing on late night.

  • John W

    We'll always have the velcro suit. And Stupid Pet tricks. And The top ten lists.

    Tina Fey as a replacement.

  • DarthCorleone

    Why haven't they ever released a compendium of all the Stupid Pet Tricks? i would buy that DVD set without hesitation.

  • Alka Seltzer suit

  • John W

    Larry "Bud" Melman.

  • Jack Hannah of the Columbus Zoo

  • John W

    Andy Kaufman vs Jerry Lawler. Still my favorite Letterman moment ever.

  • Chris Elliott as Marlon Brando --- "Bananas"

  • e jerry powell

    Sandra Bernhard and her answering machine.


  • DarthCorleone

    Still one of the funniest things I've ever seen...

  • Belphebe

    this made my whole day, thank you for sharing.

  • kirbyjay

    Wonder how long it took for the monkeys to attack and eat her.

  • loo shag brolley


    I remember the first night I somehow managed to watch all of the Tonight Show without being shoo'd off to bed (8? 9? Did I sneak? Foggy.) and Carson said that David Letterman would be following. I got all bummed out, thinking, "Man I hate The Lettermen," and shoo'd myself to bed. Some time later I watched the actual show and realized no, not The Lettermen.

    Here's to Stupid Pet Tricks, Dropping Things Off a 12-Story Building, Squishing Things With A Hydraulic Press, and kick-ass Jimmy Carter interviews. LetterMAN is irreplaceable.

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