It was almost like a sickness.
For a few years in the 1980s, I stayed up every night and watched “Late Night with David Letterman” on NBC. But I didn’t just watch it. I also videotaped it.
And cut out the commercials.
That’s right. I was making my own commercial-free David Letterman video library.
I watched the show from its start just after 12:30 – following the Johnny Carson “Tonight Show” – until it went off an hour later. And, obviously, I loved the show enough to want to preserve it in that manner.
Letterman. Paul. Larry “Bud” Melman. All the rest.
The Alka-Seltzer suit. Dropping things off the tops of buildings. Interrupting other shows, like the bullhorn assault on the “Today” show.
My god, what fun.
Letterman, a fellow Hoosier who I remembered from his time on Indianapolis TV and – kinda – his time on my local radio station, had a masterful grasp of ironic comedy long before others followed. He was funny and absurd and disrespectful and everything anyone would want in a late-night talk show host.
I haven’t watched Dave in a while. The draw of “The Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report” was too great. Well, that and having to get up at 6 a.m. to deal with the demands of real life.
I’ve seen a little more of his show lately, since Dave’s departure was imminent. I wouldn’t have missed Bill Murray last night. And I’ll probably be watching tonight, for the final show.
Dave was ahead of his time and of his time. He was the late-night talk show host we deserved and needed. He ranked right up there with Carson in my book and always will.
So thanks, Dave, and so long.