As many of you are aware, last night was David Letterman’s final night hosting The Late Show. The suddenness of this realization came as a shock to me. Not that he was retiring, I knew that, but the fact that it happened LAST NIGHT. I’ll be honest I haven’t watched the show in years, but I’d be damned if I wasn’t going to watch this one. It’s a final nod of respect to a man that helped me understand so much about myself.
I started watching The Late Show during my early high school years. During summer vacation I worked as many of us do, night shift at the local fast food place. I would get out around ten thirty or eleven and make it home either before or during the monologue. What immediately caught my attention about David Letterman was his incredibly self deprecating style of humor. (A style I would later learn was cribbed from Johnny Carson.) I had never seen anything like that before, and Letterman sold it. He had me convinced that he believed his show was horrible, which made it funnier for me. His showmanship is unrivalled.
He also gave me a fine understanding and appreciation for what I like to call The Divine Stupid. With segments like “Will it Float?” (a segment in which a random item would be dropped into a tank to see if it floated) , “Beat The Clock” where they would find people dining outside and invite them to beat the clock with no other instructions. Some would begin eating faster, others would make fake running motions, others would sit confused, none would win. My personal favorite was always “Psychic Sandwich” in which a local psychic would be placed in Rupert Gee’s Hello Deli and be asked to psychically ascertain the sandwich Rupert was making behind her. She was never right. These segments were simply inane, simple, and ultimately just stupid. It was the simplicity of the premise and the reactions of normal people in these unusual situations that instantly clicked in my mind. Comedy is simply the unexpected. For a sixteen year old boy coming to this realization it simply blew my mind. To this day I strive to find The Divine Stupid in my every day life, and my life is richer for it.