7 July 2003 | george.schmidt
"My! Oh My! Are We Having Some Fun Now! Phone The Neighbors and Wake The Kids!"
Letterman has always been aces with me ever since I started watching his iconoclastic show back in '84 (I know he started in '82 and prior to that in '80 w/an am talk show - I caught glimpses of that once) and still continues to provide an evening's worth of laughter just before I go to bed after what is usually a daily ritual of a thankless job and the mundane idiocy of humanity. His insouciant gap-toothed sardonic grin, clever razor-sharped wit and 'go screw' attitude fit like his trademark Adidas wrestling shoes and proved to be a refreshing take at the ol' chestnut - the talk show - proving a verbal jester with the gift of gab and a knowing wink to the viewer at home who was really in control when the next 'lovely and talented' guest was to partake of the chum-letting to the shark-feeding frenzy that is Dave.
So many funny moments I'll never forget in the following stream of consciousness: Chris Elliot in any manic form; frequent guests Teri Garr, Pee-Wee Herman, Andy Kaufman, Tony Randall, Brother Theodore, David Sanborn, George Miller, Marilu Henner; Larry 'Bud' Melman (how truly ironic in a word also best to summarize the show in itself, making irony into a true art form that he would be considered 'intellectual property' owned by NBC/GE when Dave left NBC for CBS in '93) clueless to any events at hands in the show's proceedings particularly in his ventures outside 30 Rock (his notorious visit to the Port Authority greeting arriving bus passengers with hot towels had Dave in hysterics and his lengthy ill-conceived tour of good will to Tierra del Fuego, South America in which a clearly exhausted Bud demanded to comeback home to NYC!); Gerard Mulligan's stooge-personification when Dave would berate him to the point of suicide; 'Stupid Pet Tricks' (again a new art form of the ridiculously sublime; kudos to Dave's ex-Merrill Markoe, for her vision there); 'Viewer Mail' and Flunky The Viewer Mail Clown (portrayed by writer Jeff Martin who would go on to write for 'The Simpsons' and using a thinly-veiled attribute to Dave with Krusty The Clown considered Dave's alter ego); 'Brush With Greatness'; the avuncular announcer Bill Wendell (and his legendary parties); Dave visiting GE with a fruit basket much to the anger of the security head (a real film vault moment in dealing with 'corporate weasels and pinheads'); Elevator Races with Bob Costas; specialty shows (i.e. Viewer's Choice detailing how everything would be shown on the show; broadcasts from planes, the back of a pick-up truck; a mid-town hotel; etc.) such as the one where the screen did a full turn during the progress of the show; Crispin Glover's infamous appearance where he nearly knocked Dave out with a swift kick of his platform shoes; cantankerous comic book artist Harvey Pekar; one of the funniest moments ever was when he had some woman on with her monkeys and they were being taught manners and the female one was very antic and got a kick out of Dave and threatened to strike him at any minute prompting him to declare, 'She's gonna leap up and grab a vein outta my neck and kill me!'; Dave using puppets to show his disdain for the GE weasels during his infamous contract disputes; the suits made of Alka-Seltzer, bags of nacho chips, magnets and Velcro; trips to Chicago, LA & Vegas and on and on. I always said to truly get/enjoy Dave is the stand-by of watching Dave for Dave and not for who he had on the show (that would be attributed to Jay Leno who arguably was way funnier pre-'Tonight' show ascension; he's completely homogenized and mainstream and unfunny).
Perhaps my fondest memories were when I actually went to see the tapings of the shows live (including the 10th Anniversary Special from Radio City Music Hall!). My first time I went with my college roommate and we brought Dave a gift, a t-shirt from our college, and oddly enough we were allowed to present him with it just prior to the taping. However it turned out we weren't the only ones with clothing as gifts ('Jesus, it's T-shirt City, tonite Paul,' he cracked after the umpteenth t-shirt handed over to him) and when I finally gave him ours he shook my hand, asked my name and where I was from and then the coup de grace he simply said to me, 'Well have a seat on me, but not a seat on me!' Dave will always be aces with me!