Late Night With David Letterman

NBC (ended 1993)




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Show Summary

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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Comedy, Talk & Interview