In case you were living under a rock, last Thursday Mike Mills, formerly of R.E.M., announced David Letterman’s plans for retirement via Twitter. Mills was a guest on the show that evening, and his tweet was confirmed once the episode aired, with Letterman announcing it personally during the show. David Letterman entered the world of late night in 1982, with the “Late NIght with David Letterman Show” on NBC. Ten years later he was expected to take Johnny Carson’s seat at “The Tonight Show,” but NBC decided to give the gig to Jay Leno, and Letterman moved to CBS where he remained for (what will have been) twenty-three years once he retires next year.
Twenty-three years is a long time to spend doing anything, especially when it’s dependent on maintaining a fan base. While others have succeeded as talk show hosts for extended periods of time, plenty of people have failed as well. So what makes David Letterman so special? Wherein lies his staying power?
There’s something about the way he carries himself, and the way he responds to situations. While some hosts can rely on characters they create for themselves, and others can employ being overly quirky and weird, Dave gives the impression that he’s just being himself.
He’s never one to be afraid to speak his mind:
And he’s not afraid to react however he see’s fit:
Plus, the guy is BFF’s with Bill Murray:
Dave’s influence on the format of late night talk shows can be seen in all his younger counterparts. From the zany antics of Conan O’Brien, to the matter-of-factness of Jimmy Kimmel, Dave has a wide enough range of comedic capability to be pulled on from at all angles. His straight forward and unflinching approach to comedy has undoubtedly influenced the awkwardly upfront humor that is thriving nowadays via Larry David, and Ricky Gervais.
While it might be easier for young people to feel like they can relate to younger hosts like Jimmy Fallon, and Conan O’Brien, there’s something to be said about a 66 year old man who’s still at the top of his game. (Did I mention he’s super tight with Bill Murray?) Dave will surely be missed by people of all ages, but his impact on comedy will be around for a lifetime.