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Opinion: Loss of David Letterman, loss of late-night fixture

April 4, 2014

wallis.36@osu.edu
Prime Minister David Cameron (left) talks with talk show host David Letterman on 'Late Show with David Letterman' in New York City after he addressed the United Nations General Assembly Sept. 26, 2012.  Credit: Courtesy of MCT

U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron (left) talks with talk show host David Letterman on ‘Late Show with David Letterman’ in New York City after he addressed the United Nations General Assembly Sept. 26, 2012.
Credit: Courtesy of MCT

Longtime late-night funnyman, David Letterman, announced his plan to retire sometime in 2015 in front of a live studio audience Thursday.

The 66-year-old “Late Show With David Letterman” host has been a constant fixture in the world of late-night television since the debut of his first nightly talk show, “Late Night with David Letterman” in 1982. Many expected him to replace Johnny Carson in 1992. Instead, NBC hired newcomer Jay Leno. Letterman moved from NBC to CBS, and “Late Show” premiered on CBS in 1993. Last year, Letterman surpassed Carso  as the longest serving late night talk show host — 2014 marks his 32nd  year on the late night circuit.

Letterman, who was born in Indianapolis in 1947, was first a weatherman and morning show host before turning to comedy. Carson discovered Letterman in the late ‘70s and often had him on “The Tonight Show” as a regular guest. Letterman said that Carson was his biggest influence.

Though Letterman consistently earned less viewers than Leno’s “Tonight Show,” he garnered more industry and critical praise. He won nine Primetime Emmys over the course of “The Late Show.”

Although revered for his comedic talent, Letterman is no stranger to controversy either. In 2009, Letterman made headlines for making two rather crude jokes regarding two of former Governor Sarah Palin’s oldest daughters, one who was just 14 at the time. He later apologized, and said that the jokes were in reference to Palin’s oldest daughter, who was 18 at the time. Though, the crudeness had already done its damage.

Later that same year, Letterman made headlines once again and became the victim of an extortion attempt, which forced him to state publicly that he had affairs with multiple female employees. This was perhaps his biggest downfall.

His ratings have begun to fall as of late, averaging less than 3 million viewers a night, losing out to new “Tonight Show” host, Jimmy Fallon, who garners nearly twice as many.

Nonetheless, Letterman is an integral part of late night television. Every night, he is able to make an audience cry with laughter when not many can say the same. He’s certainly had his moments, and he’s obviously made more than a few mistakes. Still, though, he will be missed immensely from late night. His presence is unlike any other.


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Category: A+E, TV

Comments (2)

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  1. Tom Cain says:

    Letterman lost his funny when he turned political. Still look forward to seeing him with IndyCar partner Bob Rahal.

  2. John W says:

    Agree with Tom. He became too one sided politically. Plus his stand up antics have grown old and tired like he is. Just not entertaining to watch anymore. I will admit he is slightly funnier than Saturday Night Live whose comedy has gone into the tank. Once in a while I will flip over to it to see if anything has changed and am amazed that it can continue with the really lame skits. Lets hope Seth Meyers isn’t considered a replacement. His only name to fame in getting a laugh is to stare at the camera waiting for a laugh from the audience and once they politely oblige, he starts laughing himself. Really, really lame. NBC must have some left leaning sponsors to continue to pay for such poor performances.

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