David Letterman wrapped up 33 years of late-television last night exactly the way you thought he might: With a lot of self-deprecating humor, a ton of gratitude, and with total class. There were no huge moments in the episode. He didn’t go for broke. It was more like the culmination of the last six weeks than it was a huge going-away blow-out. Typical Dave.
He gave one last monologue, and it was bad, but great, in the way that most Letterman monologues are, because it’s never really about the jokes with Dave. It’s about the delivery, and more importantly, about the recovery: The man could let a bad zinger fly like no one else in show business, and not only would we not care that the joke was awful, it would endear us to him.
He also performed his duty in wishing his successor good luck, and though Colbert may not have been Dave’s first choice, Letterman is certainly a fan. Colbert is going to do great.
He brought out ten of his favorite celebrities for one final Top Ten List: 10 Things I’ve Always Wanted to Say to Dave, and of course, they were all jokes at Dave’s expense. And, as you might expect if you’ve been watching Dave for the last 15 years, he was more excited and giddy about Peyton Manning than anyone else (and to be honest, so I was I):
As he rounded the turn toward the finish line, he showed a Day in the Life clip, basically showing us what Dave does all day before the show, and what they do to put the show together. It was essentially an excuse to give his staff some airtime, and to show his appreciation for all their work over the years.
And then, finally, at around 12:40 a.m. last night, he delivered his last goodbye. I don’t know what I was expecting, but with Dave — because he’s such a steely, emotionally reserved guy (except when it comes to his heart surgery, or to Harry) — it doesn’t take much to hit you in the feels. He kept it in check, though. He was sincere, and genuine, and thankful for all the people who helped him put the show together (and thanked them all), but it was when he thanked his wife and kid — his family — that I lost it. “Thank you for being my family. I love you both, and really, nothing else matters, does it?”
It really doesn’t.
You couldn’t really see it, but trust me, that’s when Dave was crying in Dave’s own kind of way.
And then the Foo Fighters came out, and that’s when you kept it together because your wife was nice enough to stay up until 1 a.m. to watch it with you and you didn’t want to make an ass of yourself, but it’s also when you broke down into a blubbering simpering boob the next morning when you rewatched it when no one else was around.
Goddamnit. I wasn’t ready.
Seth reminded me last night that, in law school — when I was interviewing with big law firms — my email address was [email protected] (because Dave used to give away Big Ass Hams on his show), and I remember trying to explain that to the humorless law talking guys during interviews. I don’t think they were very impressed. I wasn’t an exceptional student (a B+ average), but after 40 some odd interviews, I didn’t get a single offer. It was probably because I was a terrible interviewer, and had a knack for saying really stupid things during interviews out of nervousness (“so, do the partners flog the associates at your firm?” I remember asking one of the recruiters, which was met with complete and total silence), but I like to think that my silly email addresses was instrumental in keeping out of that field.
Of course, after law school, when I began applying to other jobs, had I finally learned my lesson? Not really. My email address was [email protected]
So thanks for that, Dave. God knows where I’d be if I’d actually landed one of those jobs.
Anyway, just so I can stop myself from being weepy, here’s the very first thing we saw after the credits rolled on The Late Show: Sting, singing with James Corden. It was like a punch in the gut. Dave is gone, and this is the kind of bullshit we have to put up with on late night now.
So long, Dave. May you live another 30 years, long enough to see Harry have your grandchildren.