It was a rainy Friday morning in Portsmouth and I was sat in a lecture hall at 9am nursing a student hangover, not looking forward to an hour lecture on ‘American TV’.
During that hour we were introduced to the world of late night – from the format to the battle for ratings to the scandals, we covered it all. What struck me was how little I knew about this corner of the media it was nothing like what we had over here – a whole genre of TV that was so different, it was it’s own little universe……and I wanted in.
After that lecture I became obsessed with Letterman’s show, i’d watch clips again and again on youtube and then later full shows online. I loved the fact the show was so offbeat and weird,
It dispensed deliberate stupidity always with a nudge and wink to the camera, almost as if to say ‘We’re actually doing this on a big budget TV show’.
The sketches were usually overly shoddy and the stunts literally pointless. And I mean POINTLESS
In a similar vein there were also features, some favourites being ‘Stupid pet tricks’, ‘Will it float’ and the iconic ‘Top ten list’
Finally as with every talk show there were guests, the beauty again (considering it was a network show with a big budget, dedicated theatre and team of writers) was….it wasn’t polished AT ALL.
There were often awkward exchanges with guests and points where Letterman clearly got bored or started to take the piss, culminating in the now infamous Joaquin Phoenix interview (Joaquin was playing a part for a film, but Letterman wasn’t aware)
The take down is exceptional and very funny and was a huge part in the resulting film ‘i’m still here’.
So now it’s all over, Letterman’s last show was on the 20th of May and genuinelly felt like the end of an era of Television that probably won’t ever exist again. What remains is a feeling that he did it his way and the show was original, quirky and unaffected right up til the end. Take note everyone that is how you do entertainment.