Day 140: Letterman

David Letterman

David Letterman

Tonight’s the big finale for David Letterman, who wraps up his late-night run after 31 years.

My cousin showed me the way to Letterman back in the mid ’80s, when a wacky character named Pee Wee Herman was being introduced to America. I loved Letterman and his silly, genre-redefining comedy, from Larry “Bud” Melman to Stupid Pet Tricks, the Velcro suit to Mujibur and Sirajul. By the time he moved to CBS from NBC, I’d lost interest in late-night television, except for the occasional episode of Arsenio Hall or, later, the Conan O’Brien show. For me, staying up late back then was for doing anything except watching television.

There’s something to be said for Dave’s longevity. Late-night comedy has changed a lot in my lifetime and Dave was right in the middle of those changes, taking the torch (along with Jay Leno) from Johnny Carson (who took it from Jack Paar and Steve Allen) before handing it off to Conan O’Brien, Jimmy Kimmel, Jimmy Fallon and the rest of the digital-age hosts.

While Dave hasn’t had his best stuff in years, he was funny whenever I did manage to watch some of his show. It was comforting to know that he was there on CBS, plugging away and available if I happened to turn on the TV after 11:30pm. I’ll miss that.

Farewell, Mr. Letterman.