back in the early days of civilization, before everyone had televisions in their pockets
you had to watch tv with your whole family.
one christmas i was at my grandparents house in southern georgia. we had eaten dinner, played cards, and after the ice cream had been served, a new show was to air
late night with david letterman.
i was excited about this because i had seen his short-lived morning show and it was fantastic.
i clearly remembered one episode where there was a small marching band on stage next to dave and confetti was falling and a young lady was spinning a flaming baton
and as the credits rolled some of the falling confetti kissed the flame from one of ends of the baton
and caught fire
and as the credits rolled, a fire extinguisher blew it all out.
i was all wha????
that show lasted about a year and a year later there i was sitting in my grandfathers living room and i told him we gotta watch this new show and i was not at all disappointed.
it was so not johnny carson but just as good, right off the bat.
everyone loved johnny, myself included, and it wasnt even that johnny was losing steam or anything, he was the essence of class and still had it.
dave was the opposite of that. but not in a rude way, in almost a cable-access way. and proud of it. still it was like who the hell gave this guy a show.
which, by the way, was basically my grandpas reaction. he didnt even reward it enough by falling asleep to it in his recliner that winter night.
he took off his glasses, got up, and retired for the evening.
which to any teenager was a golden seal of approval.
dave did shows in hotel rooms, he wore a sweater. paul was in the bed next to him, on a synthesizer. he threw stuff off the roof. he had good bands on.
but best of all dave wasnt a disgusting sellout suck-up fake.
you could see that from day one and here he is at the end of his incredible run and he never became one.
unfortunately you cant talk about dave without talking about jay
before jay did the one thing he knew he should never do,
he would come on late night and tell funny jokes with an edge
some of the funniest were the ones about jay being pissed off about something.
dave would tee it up by saying, now jay i hear theres something youre a little upset with
and jay would play it up with a deep voiced, are you saying i have a beef, something stuck in my craw? well yes, dave, i do.
and he would tell some good jokes.
the fact that dave had jay on dozens and dozens of times and then jay stole the tonight show from him still baffles me.
and whats worse about that whole thing is once jay stole it, he brought nothing to it.
his best bits were howard stern rip offs.
meanwhile dave had innovated late night right before leno’s eyes.
how do you just rob a man of his one true goal?
but in a weird little way, dave not getting his obvious reward made him even more the everyman we always loved about him.
they pelted us with rocks and garbage.
weird as he was, you could always relate to dave, in part because so many of us had watched him grow into the staple that he was.
meanwhile jay was this terribly bland sideshow that reminded us that ratings sometimes just means lowest common denominator.
deep down all you want is the coolest girl to notice you
and say hi.