Late Night With David Letterman

NBC (ended 1993)



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David Letterman made his name as a TV legend with this influential comedy/talk show series. Dave was a departure from the usual happy, pleasant host; he was sarcastic, moody, grumpy--and on a bad night, he could be all three and almost unwatchable. Generally, though, he treated guests with a refreshing irrereverence. The comedy segments often cast a jaded eye at the cliches of life and especially show business--a wink to the audience that we were all in on whatever scam was being perpetrated on us. Along that line, bandleader Paul Shaffer would banter with Dave in a faux-Rat Pack/swinger style, an exaggeration of how the typical 'hip' talk show musician acted. Recurring bits over the years included: the nighty 'Top Ten' list, often based on a topic in the news; 'Stupid Pet Tricks', when real people and their pets demonstrated, well, exactly what the title says; 'Peggy, the foul-mouthed chambermaid', who would come out and curse at Letterman (most of her dialog was bleeped); Chris Elliot as the creepy guy under the stairs; and TV cameras attached to anything that moved, most unforgettably to a chimp. Borrowing an idea from Steve Allen, Dave ocassionally performed ridiculous stunts. Among them, he had himself dunked into a giant bowl of milk; wore a suit of suet; almost passed out from fumes when, covered with Alka-Seltzer tablets, was dunked in a tank of water; and, wearing a velcro suit, jumped on a trampoline and stuck to a wall. "Late Night with David Letterman" was highly praised, winning five Emmy Awards, and a prestigious Peabody for taking, as the award said, "one of TV's most conventional and least-inventive forms, the talk show, and infusing it with freshness and imagination." NOTE: Thanks to noted Letterman expert Don "Donz5" Giller for his help in correcting and contributing to this episode guide.


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  • Calvert DeForest

    Calvert DeForest

    Regular as Larry 'Bud' Melman

    Chris Elliott

    Chris Elliott

    Himself/Various Characters (1982-90)

    David Letterman

    David Letterman


    Paul Shaffer

    Paul Shaffer

    Musical Director/Sidekick

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    • Great job

      Normally, most talk shows feel the same as the next one but this one stands out on its own and it impresses me. It just steps out of the crowd and really entertains you.
    • Letterman gives the impression that he is so anti-Republican and anti-Christian Right. Well, I don\'t think Mr. O\'Reilly (Dave\'s enemy) would have made the comment about someone\'s job, his/her job as a joke. David Letterman is a hypocrite. He is reamoreless

      My daughter and I watch late night shows, David Letterman is my husband\'s favorite. Not so for my daughter and myself as of May 25, 2006. Last night, he made fun of one of his audience members who worked at Wal-mart. My daughter age 22 works at Wal-mart and she was very upset. She has a child is a single mom and works hard for a living, has her own place, etc. David Letterman gives the impression that he is so anti-Republican and anti-Christian Right. Well, I don\'t think Mr. O\'Reilly (Dave\'s enemy) would have made the comment about someone\'s job, his/her job as a joke. Anyone who is capable of getting any kind of job in this George Bush run country should be considered pretty darn blessed. David Letterman is a hypocrite. He is really right-wing conservative.moreless
    • The very strange mind of a former weatherman from Indiana.

      David Letterman had already experimented with an earlier version of his show, as well as several appearances as substitute host on 'The Tonight Show,' when the chance to do a full-time late night program came around. Instead of replacing the emcee of 'Tonight,' he would get his own playing ground.

      And what a time it would be.

      Letterman's humor was both more cerebral and exponentially more adventurous than that of his competitors. He quizzed the audience members about random pictures, talked people into doing bizarre pranks in the middle of a crowded Manhattan street, invited folks to have their pets do crazy stunts on stage and walked outside just to see what was going on.

      If anything could be done in a normal, routine way... David would do an end run around it.

      He is on another network today, but the recipe was as good at the beginning as it is now.

      Funny and brilliant-- there *is* television for which it's worth it to stay up late.moreless
    • A pure classic.

      Some people may disaggree but without carson and letterman we would have no conan, no leno, and even some stars.

      He is witty and clever with his infamas 'top 10' list and paul isn't bad either.

      So the next time you see leno, kimmel, conan,or fergusen you better thank dave.
    • funnier than it is today

      this show was twice as good as the show dave and his gang do today. i do not know why but it seems to me that his show only got worse when it left nbc. now the only thing it has going for it is the top ten. and that is not usually that funny nowadays.

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    Comedy, Talk & Interview