Late Night with David Letterman
Late Night with David Letterman
| 01 February 1982 (USA)
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    I'll tell you why so serious


    I like movies that are aware of what they are selling... without [any] greater aspirations than to make people laugh and that's it.

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    Pretty good movie overall. First half was nothing special but it got better as it went along.

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    Mathilde the Guild

    Although I seem to have had higher expectations than I thought, the movie is super entertaining.

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    Many younger viewers don't realize it, but the current CBS version of David Letterman is not the REAL David Letterman! The Late Show is nice and Letterman still has remnants of his funny persona left, but the REAL David Letterman is when he was NBC's LATE NIGHT WITH David LETTERMAN from 1982 to 1993.LNWDL was cutting edge and in reality is a huge reason that talk shows of the modern era do some of the crazy, interesting, fun things that they can do. Personally, I'm glad that Dave never got the Johnny Carson show because I felt that show was too uppity for him. Better than it go to that overrated, boring Jay Leno. I never could get into that show after Carson left. Carson had a perfect blend of wisdom, class, and humor that made that show work. Leno was dullness personified! But even in the waning years of Carson, LNWDL was a great-follow up to the more dignified, classy Carson show. While Carson had big movie stars, past and present, and up-and-coming comedians, Dave had more of B-listers (and sometimes C and D listers!) as his guests. But they rarely disappointed. Dave would have these off-the-wall skits with Larry "Bud" Melman, Chris Elliott, with regular assists from Dave's hip right-hand man, bandleader Paul Schaeffer, who stayed with Dave when he went over to CBS. Then his "B-list" guests would include the likes of Andy Kaufman, Sandra Bernhard, Teri Garr, Richard Simmons, all of whom were in on the joke during the no-holds-barred interviews, in which Dave (nor his guests) would pull any punches. And when Dave did have A-listers, like Cher or Madonna or some other big name, he and/or his audience would more often than not antagonize them, mainly as a way of bringing them down to the level of his show, which to me is a good thing! Dave for an eternity tried to get Oprah on his NBC show, but ironically she never appeared until CBS. Safer, milder atmosphere! And even Cher and Madonna seem to have buried the hatchet and regularly appear on his CBS show. In retrospect, I think a lot of people see the genius of Dave when he was on NBC. Back then, Dave was fresh, young, energetic, enthusiastic, sarcastic, and witty. He still holds those last 2 qualities, but he's much more laid back and picks his spots more. On NBC, he was uninhibited and we're all the better for it! Whether or not Dave or Carson is the best is debatable, but they are #1 and #2. Leno, Conan, Ferguson, Fallon, Kimmel, and the up-and-coming Colbert (who is to take over Dave's CBS show) are all competing for a distant 3rd!

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    Setting: An overpriced studio set overlooking New York City.Time: Present Day, though if anyone had common sense it wouldn't be.Tone: Deaf DRAMATIS PERSONAE David Letterman: The gap-toothed Host of Late Night. A cynical man who is jealous of Jay Leno because Jay's funny and he's not.Paul Shaffer: A rare breed of shaved parrot. Serves to repeat everything that Dave says and act as what I'm guessing is a bandleader.Alan Kalter: Announcer for the show. Not his fault.Dave: Alright Ladies and Gentlemen, here's tonight's top 10 list.(Music enters) Dave: Tonight's top 10 list: Top 10 Reasons I'm Not Funny.(Applause sign lights up, people forced to clap, dually regretting an evening wasted) Dave: Number 10:I'm a cynic Paul: Oh, a cynic, huh?Dave: Number 9: I'm whiny-Carson retired twenty years ago and I treat Jay Leno like he's Moby Dick.Paul: Moby Dick.Dave: Number 8: I think it's funny if I repeat words I say like "political pundit." Paul: Political Pundit.Dave: Number 7: I'm crotchety.Paul: Crotchety.Dave: Number 6: I actually have to use laugh signs.Paul: Oh, laugh signs huh? Dave: Number 5: I don't ask guests real questions that stimulate their minds-instead I'll interview Hugh Laurie and ask him if his name is Hugh Laurie.Paul: Ah, Hugh Laurie.Dave: Number 4: If a guest says something awkward, I'll just look at the audience and furrow my brow.Paul: Furrow your brow, huh? Dave: Number 3: I won't appear even mildly interested in what my guests are saying.Paul: What your guests are saying Dave.Dave: Number 2: I meanly pounce on celebrity scandals like a Tiger-Speaking of Tiger, did you know that his wife is threatening to wedge his nine-iron? (Laughter sign blinks, fake laughter) Paul:Nine-iron, wedge, golf.Dave: And the number 1 reason I'm not funny: I actually have to make out a list.(Applause sign blinks, fake applause ,or it could be real, the show end in seconds) Paul: You have to make a list! Alan: This is Alan Kalter speaking: Good night everybody, better than mine anyway.

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    Letterman has always been aces with me ever since I started watching his iconoclastic show back in '84 (I know he started in '82 and prior to that in '80 w/an am talk show - I caught glimpses of that once) and still continues to provide an evening's worth of laughter just before I go to bed after what is usually a daily ritual of a thankless job and the mundane idiocy of humanity. His insouciant gap-toothed sardonic grin, clever razor-sharped wit and 'go screw' attitude fit like his trademark Adidas wrestling shoes and proved to be a refreshing take at the ol' chestnut - the talk show - proving a verbal jester with the gift of gab and a knowing wink to the viewer at home who was really in control when the next 'lovely and talented' guest was to partake of the chum-letting to the shark-feeding frenzy that is Dave.So many funny moments I'll never forget in the following stream of consciousness: Chris Elliot in any manic form; frequent guests Teri Garr, Pee-Wee Herman, Andy Kaufman, Tony Randall, Brother Theodore, David Sanborn, George Miller, Marilu Henner; Larry 'Bud' Melman (how truly ironic in a word also best to summarize the show in itself, making irony into a true art form that he would be considered 'intellectual property' owned by NBC/GE when Dave left NBC for CBS in '93) clueless to any events at hands in the show's proceedings particularly in his ventures outside 30 Rock (his notorious visit to the Port Authority greeting arriving bus passengers with hot towels had Dave in hysterics and his lengthy ill-conceived tour of good will to Tierra del Fuego, South America in which a clearly exhausted Bud demanded to comeback home to NYC!); Gerard Mulligan's stooge-personification when Dave would berate him to the point of suicide; 'Stupid Pet Tricks' (again a new art form of the ridiculously sublime; kudos to Dave's ex-Merrill Markoe, for her vision there); 'Viewer Mail' and Flunky The Viewer Mail Clown (portrayed by writer Jeff Martin who would go on to write for 'The Simpsons' and using a thinly-veiled attribute to Dave with Krusty The Clown considered Dave's alter ego); 'Brush With Greatness'; the avuncular announcer Bill Wendell (and his legendary parties); Dave visiting GE with a fruit basket much to the anger of the security head (a real film vault moment in dealing with 'corporate weasels and pinheads'); Elevator Races with Bob Costas; specialty shows (i.e. Viewer's Choice detailing how everything would be shown on the show; broadcasts from planes, the back of a pick-up truck; a mid-town hotel; etc.) such as the one where the screen did a full turn during the progress of the show; Crispin Glover's infamous appearance where he nearly knocked Dave out with a swift kick of his platform shoes; cantankerous comic book artist Harvey Pekar; one of the funniest moments ever was when he had some woman on with her monkeys and they were being taught manners and the female one was very antic and got a kick out of Dave and threatened to strike him at any minute prompting him to declare, 'She's gonna leap up and grab a vein outta my neck and kill me!'; Dave using puppets to show his disdain for the GE weasels during his infamous contract disputes; the suits made of Alka-Seltzer, bags of nacho chips, magnets and Velcro; trips to Chicago, LA & Vegas and on and on. I always said to truly get/enjoy Dave is the stand-by of watching Dave for Dave and not for who he had on the show (that would be attributed to Jay Leno who arguably was way funnier pre-'Tonight' show ascension; he's completely homogenized and mainstream and unfunny). Perhaps my fondest memories were when I actually went to see the tapings of the shows live (including the 10th Anniversary Special from Radio City Music Hall!). My first time I went with my college roommate and we brought Dave a gift, a t-shirt from our college, and oddly enough we were allowed to present him with it just prior to the taping. However it turned out we weren't the only ones with clothing as gifts ('Jesus, it's T-shirt City, tonite Paul,' he cracked after the umpteenth t-shirt handed over to him) and when I finally gave him ours he shook my hand, asked my name and where I was from and then the coup de grace he simply said to me, 'Well have a seat on me, but not a seat on me!' Dave will always be aces with me!

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    While Conan does have one of the best shows on TV now, David Letterman's original Late Night talk show is what created it all. This is where such classic things like "Stupid Pet Tricks" and "The Top Ten List" were born. Dave knows what people want to laugh at, and from that show he did it all, like once leaving an audience member as host for nearly the entire show while he "looked for his fake teeth" and other great things. David Letterman's current show may get more viewers, but this one should never be forgotten.

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