The late, great late night


Yes, back in the 1980s, I was a huge fan of David Letterman. Yes, I stayed up for his 12:30 NBC show – after Carson’s “Tonight Show” – every night. Yes, I videotaped Letterman as I was watching. Yes, I excised commercials.

Yes, in a hall closet that’s been the repository of most of my VHS tapes over the decades – a closet that should be devoted to some more productive use, as I’m sure my wife is thinking as she reads this – are those tapes, buried along with videos recorded over the air of “The X-Files” and “Lois and Clark.”

Yes, I acknowledge it’s strange that I sat up and taped those Letterman shows.

I regret nothing. (Even though I haven’t watched the tapes in years.)

That’s because, back in those days, Letterman was the cutting edge of late-night comedy.

As I’ve noted here before, I was watching Carson from my late childhood or at least early adolescence. Carson was and will ever be the king of late-night. Nobody did it better.

Letterman – another Indiana guy, who spent time here in Muncie, working at the radio station I always listened to and going to college where I later went – was innovative and funny and awkward in all the right moments.

I haven’t watched a lot of Letterman in recent years and maybe it’s ironic that Jon Stewart’s “Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report” have taken over my late-night viewing – when I can stay awake that late: The days of staying up until the 1:30 a.m. sign-off of Letterman’s old show are long gone.

So I was pretty pleased at this week’s news that Stephen Colbert was going to take over for the retiring Letterman on “The Late Show” next year. Colbert is sharp and funny and heartfelt and he’ll make a great host. I’ll probably check out at least the start of his show after Stewart’s sign-off.

I’m curious if Colbert’s right-wing ass character will “appear” at all on his new show. I’m curious how Comedy Central will replace “Colbert Report.”

You can bet I’ll be checking out Dave’s victory lap in this final year.

Heck, I might even break out some of those 30-year-old tapes and relive Dave’s glory days.

I can always watch those at 7 p.m., when I’m not too sleepy.


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