I don't do a lot of pop culture posts on here, but David Letterman's retirement from the "Late Show" last night after 33 years (including 11 on "Late Night") was a poignant, generational moment for me. I was in high school when Dave first came on the air and can remember staying up late, sneaking downstairs to watch him (and occasionally getting busted for it). By the time I started college, Dave was mandatory viewing on campuses, and in dorm rooms and off-campus apartments. Back in the pre-internet days, getting together to watch television programs at other people's cribs was actually a thing.
What made him so identifiable was the instant, generational appeal. The Boomers and old fogies had Carson and Tonight...we had Letterman throwing shit off five story buildings, throwing himself against a wall wearing a velcro suit, the Alka-Seltzer suit, and of course stupid pet tricks, human tricks, top ten lists, and so on. From Chris Elliot to Larry Bud Melman, it was irreverent, smart, brilliant tv that fit the generational irony and malaise many of us felt in the 80's and 90's. And during the 90's, the best way to size up a person you just met was "Leno or Letterman?" The Dave people were my people.
Like others, you get older, have kids, and late night t.v. becomes a luxury rather than a lifestyle. I didn't watch it as much I used to the past 10 years or so, and the late night landscape looks way different today than it did back in my high school 80's era. But I catch various shows online or via social media when I can, and while I'm more Conan O'Brien and Jimmy Kimmel, than Jimmy Fallon (or "Lonnie Donegan" as Dave called him once), I need to check out Seth Meyers, and am looking forward to Stephen Colbert's debut in the fall.
But really, there will never be another Letterman. Last night's show was pitch-perfect, lacking in the self-importance and weepiness of Carson or Leno's retirement. It was a Dave-fest through and through..."by the way ladies and gentlemen, this stuff in lieu of entertainment."