LIFE WITHOUT LETTERMAN
(How we are getting along without David Letterman)
I caught a commercial the other day showing kids going up to a house and trick-or-treating. It got me remembering how my husband and I always enjoyed David Letterman’s annual Halloween segment, where kids rang the doorbell and entered Dave’s “house” wearing a silly costume (Chap Stick that opens in your pocket, “obstructed view seating”, a men’s shoe buffer, a raisin that’s been under your stove for several years) and he would give them an equally bizarre treat (a plate of egg foo young, a Canadian passport, tickets to a concert in Germany, Carlos Santana cologne) . But now it suddenly occurred to me that this would be the first year without that Halloween late night tradition, since Dave retired in May. That put the “hoo” in “boo”! As in “boo hoo!”
So just how are we surviving since Letterman is no longer on the air? Surprisingly, it was easier than I expected for my husband and I. At least at first. We were watching The Man From U.N.C.L.E. reruns for a couple of months, and that took my mind off any late night talk shows. But then they stopped showing that, and we were clicking the channels looking for something else. We don’t have cable but have never been at a loss to find things to watch; there is always something we’ve recorded, a documentary, movie or a rerun. We even started watching Match Game ’78 on the new game show channel (and it can get quite gripping, waiting to see who wins!).
And yes, we have checked out the competition, including Jimmy Fallon and Jimmy Kimmel. Hubby doesn’t like either one, and I don’t have strong feelings about them—I can take or leave them. It also depends on the guest. I enjoyed Jay Leno sometimes, and always liked Conan O’Brien, but he moved to cable so we never see him anymore. I think Seth Meyers is pretty funny, but he is on a bit too late so it’s rare that we catch him. I don’t like any of these people enough to actually record their shows and watch them the next evening, as we usually did with Dave. Even if we were watching it live, we would still record it in case we wanted to go back and catch something.
Dave was definitely record-worthy. We have been a fan forever, and I liked him from the moment I first saw him back in the 70s on Johnny Carson, before he was anybody. As a kid in the 60’s, I grew up with Johnny. He was a legend. And now this new David Letterman guy was quite amusing. I also remember watching his new morning talk show with Paul Shaffer when I was a young wife in the early 80’s. And then when he went to late night, we were regular viewers. Even our older son was a fan; he’d come home from junior high in the early 90’s and immediately want to watch the show we’d recorded the night before.
We felt an affinity to Dave—it was like we “knew” him. He wasn’t perfect by any means; I have had moments where I disagreed with things he said and did. Take the appearance by Drew Barrymore back in the 90’s, for example, where she stood up on his desk and flashed him. Rather than being shocked and scolding her like I thought he should have done, Dave just THANKED her. And she smiled and the audience cheered. Real good example this sets for women. And then there was one of his last shows where he admitted he smoked pot. I was shocked! I never thought he would be the type to go so far. But I’m sure he doesn’t smoke it NOW, and that he would not want his son to ever use marijuana.
But I liked that Dave didn’t drink alcohol. Jay Leno doesn’t drink, either. But Seth does, and both Jimmy’s do, along with Conan and the new guy who took Craig Ferguson’s place, James Corden. I was dismayed when we tuned in to his first show and he had a BAR at the side of the stage. After all the years I have spoken up against alcohol! And after taking over for Craig, who was a recovering alcoholic!
Speaking of Ferguson, I came in rather late discovering him. I had seen Craig Kilborn years ago but never really watched “the new Craig”, until one night probably in 2012 or 2013 I got caught up in something he was saying—I can’t remember what—and he seemed funny. And then he mentioned that he hadn’t had a drink since the 80’s, that he was a recovering addict. From then on I was hooked. Even with his potty-mouth, he was still hilarious and, as he often said, “not like any other late night talk show.” Just seeing producer Michael always shake his head in mock disgust every time Craig blurted out a naughty word sort of balanced it all out for me (not that I wouldn’t give him a lecture in real life if I saw him!). Plus I did hear him say one time that he was trying to stop using bad words because he has kids. So he was at least trying.
So for awhile there we were watching both Dave and Craig, although I had a hard time staying up late enough to see all of the Late Late Show. I’d try to just watch the monologue and “tweets and emails” and then go to bed. We usually tried to catch Dave’s monologue, but if there was something else on or a recording of another show to watch, we wouldn’t feel too bad about missing it, even deleting the recordings we had throughout the week. As my husband said, “Dave is like popcorn, if he’s there and it’s convenient we can watch him, but we don’t have to go out of our way to see him.”
But then one night, I was looking at Dave and I said to my husband, “You know, he’s not getting any younger. He could retire someday and then he won’t be on at all. And who would take his place? I can’t think of anybody we like as well as him.” So from then on, we didn’t take Dave for granted. I insisted on watching every recording, and then, knowing how much I liked Ferguson, my husband set it to record him as well. So now we had a two-hour block of talk show madness on our DVR. We tried to watch as much live as we could, but we’d often get behind and then find ourselves binge watching on the weekend, trying to get through a week’s worth of shows before the next week started.
Well as we all know, in early April 2014 Dave announced he would retire sometime the next year. “See, I told you so!” I said to my husband. “I just had a feeling he would be leaving!” Oh well, at least it was a ways off and we could still enjoy his shows for awhile longer. And then just a couple of weeks after that, Craig announced that HE was leaving as well, and at the end of the year! Darn!! So BOTH Dave and Craig were leaving?? This was horrible news! We faithfully watched both shows, until Craig’s departure in December, and then Dave was gone the following May.
As for their replacements, we gave Corden a chance and I thought he was okay, but not record-worthy. Lately hubby has been recording Colbert and I watch when I can—at least the monologue and funny bits, and I must admit I have laughed. Although he drinks, and sometimes swears, and he’s not Dave. Also, both Colbert and Fallon have black bands. I know it sounds racist, but I just can’t relate. (Yet I’m perfectly fine with Ferguson’s gay robot skeleton. Go figure.)
Well, at least there are lots of YouTube videos of Dave and Craig (and everyone else). And Antenna TV is set to run full-length Johnny Carson episodes starting January 1. Thank goodness. Yes, Johnny drank. And I know he did other naughty things. But I grew up with him and I liked him, and that’s the way it was, dangit! So goodbye Dave, and heeeere’s Johnny!