I’ve been a David Letterman fan for thirty years, from when he was a substitute host for Johnny Carson on the “Tonight Show” and from when he had his own short-lived morning TV show. A few years ago, my wife and I attended a taping of the “Late Show with David Letterman” in New York. While we were on our way from Buffalo to Bar Harbor, Maine, to look at fall colors we got a call about tickets I had requested. It meant we would have to go to New York City first — before Bar Harbor. We changed our plans and our reservations and headed for lodging, just outside the city.
Taping for the show was to start around 5:30. Knowing how bad crowds and lines can be and how much I hate them both, I insisted we get there early. We ate a quick lunch at Bubba Gump’s on Broadway, and by 2:00 we were heading for the Ed Sullivan Theater. As we approached, we saw the ropes were being set up. We were first in line. Out of nowhere, a dozen or more people began to line up behind us.
Being first in line proved to be of no consequence; we were in the first group to enter the theater, but we didn’t get the best seats in the house. We were ushered over to the far left section and seated in the first row in front of the orchestra facing guitarist, Felicia Collins. Our view of center stage was completely obstructed by a camera.
As people were getting settled, comedian Eddie Brill came out to do a warm-up segment. He also gave us instructions about our required demeanor; we were encouraged to cheer and clap all we wanted, but we were asked not to whistle. David Letterman made a brief appearance, answered a couple of questions, and the taping began.
The guests that night were not ones we would have chosen to see, but the whole experience was delightful and unforgettable. Now that Dave has announced his retirement, that experience means even more to me than ever. I’ve already worn out one, and I’m on my second “Late Show” T-shirt.
Here is my “Top Ten List” of things I’ll miss from the “Late Show”:
10. Stupid pet tricks
9. Stupid human tricks
8. Paul Shaffer’s suits
7. Paul Shaffer’s laugh
6. The Horn Section (always claiming to have done anything Dave asks about)
5. Segments with the “Hello Deli” and Rupert Gee
4. Dave’s double-breasted jackets
3. Dave’s white socks (that are really gray)
2. Dave’s “Top Ten List”