I finally watched the last episode of The Late Show with David Letterman.
I have loved Dave since the summer after 5th grade when I obsessively watched his morning show. That show was cancelled after a few months, but NBC was smart enough to realize they had a real goofball genius on their hands, and that comedy was moving in a new direction.
I grew up loving comedy. I subscribed to Mad, Cracked, AND Crazy magazines (and I still have several issues of all three). I listened to comedy albums. I watched The Carol Burnett Show, The Flip Wilson Show, The Smothers Brothers, Saturday Night Live, and every sitcom my parents would let me watch (which was all of them). I adored The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, and I loved trying to stay up on Friday nights to watch it with my mom. During the summer I relished watching it every night.
But when Late Night with David Letterman came along in 1982 it was like the universe had finally made a show for young, hip super sarcastic comedy lovers like me. The show was supposedly writing for an audience of young men, but given that my sense of humor essentially stemmed from my brothers–who were 18 and 20 at the time–they were also writing for this 12-year-old girl.
I loved it all. In 10th grade I went through a period where I had trouble getting to sleep, so I would stay up and watch Late Night until I drifted off around 1 AM. I still got up at 6 AM for school, but I remember that several month period fondly despite the shitty insomnia. Maybe I just wanted to see Dave. The Top Ten list debuted when I was in 11th grade, and I fell even more in love. I had a pic of Dave on my Pee-Chee, and I bought the first book of Top Ten lists. I kept that book for years, but finally parted with it after one of my many moves. When I think of high school, I think of Dave.
I watched sporadically through college, but once Dave went to CBS I really only watched on the occasional Friday or special occasion. I didn’t mess with VCR recordings, and work and life just got in the way of watching regularly.
The night Dave came back from his open heart surgery was February 21, 2000. I don’t even have to Google that date, because I know where I was…going into labor five weeks early with my first and only kid. Scott and I were watching Dave’s triumphant return when my water broke. In fact, we were only up late watching, because we had the next day off for a doctor’s appointment. Dave introduced his team of doctors, and I looked at Scott and said, I think I peed my pants. Turns out your water breaking isn’t always as dramatic as the movies try to make it out to be.
I didn’t make it long enough to watch Foo Fighters perform Dave’s favorite song “Everlong” that night (one of my favorite songs too, btw). Scott was whisking me to the Group Health birthing center, and we had a baby boy about six hours later. It seems extra fitting that the opening lines to “Everlong” are “Hello/I’ve waited here for you/Everlong.”
Yes, I missed that Foo Fighters performance in 2000, but through the miracle of technology, I did just get to watch them perform “Everlong” for Dave’s last show on Wednesday, May 20th.
And I may or may not have cried a little bit.
So long, Dave. Thanks for a lifetime of great memories and great comedy.