One of my favorite moments during Dave Letterman's final few weeks was Norm Macdonald's tearful salute. As he was performing a standup routine during one of Dave's last shows, he told a story of seeing Letterman do stand up when he was a kid which made MacDonald want to go into comedy. He capped off the routine telling a joke he heard Dave say that night all those years ago.
We can list off all of Dave's television and comedic accomplishments, but it's the personal stories that will always have the most lasting impact. Having a personal influence or being a specific inspiration to another human being goes far beyond any award or money made.
I never worked in television or became a stand up comedian, but I felt Dave's influence. Like all comedy, timing was everything. Dave had been around well before I hit puberty. In fact, his Late Night With David Letterman show on NBC in the 80s was just about the biggest cult talk show ever and Letterman himself was the hippest host around.
I knew of the show, but was too young to have seen it.
It was when he made the jump to CBS in the 90s when Dave became a mainstay in my regular weeknight routine. Purists would argue the CBS show was a watered down version of his unorthodox anti-talk show that he had going on NBC. Being on an hour earlier and reaching a wider audience made the show more mainstream. Nonetheless, it was during this period when I got my comedic education into the world of sarcasm, irreverence, deadpan, and self deprecation.
The adolescent years were special years in the development of my sense of humour. It was here when I was discovering what was cool and hip and what was not. I was old enough to get the joke, but young enough to still be impressionable. I was like a sponge soaking up everything pop culture had to offer. My sense of humour was growing fast. David Letterman, Seinfeld, Wayne's World, The Simpsons and whatever else the "Ironic 90s" were producing was shaping the way I looked at the world.
Something else happened to me during these years. My parents got divorced. My father, who ironically had the same dry wit that Letterman has, wasn't around full time anymore.
Still a young teenager and still needing guidance, I lacked the skills needed to make decisions on my own to figure out what path I wanted to take professionally and personally.
So I looked for guidance from the outside world and built up heroes in my head from entertainers I enjoyed. People like David Letterman, Jerry Seinfeld, and Woody Allen among others. I looked up to them and wanted to be like them. Their humor became my humor.
It's something we all do. We all put entertainers and pro athletes and rock stars on pedestals. But I personalized it more than the average person. I honestly believed in my head Dave Letterman meant more to me than the next person because I deserved to. I had a void in my life and he filled it. That's how I justified it. Dave reminded me of my dad so I subconsciously built up an attachment to the guy. And seeing him five nights a week was more than I saw my own father!
In reality, I was just coping with loneliness. But I didn't know this at the time. I was already in my prime comedic development years. Having a void just sped up the process.
Flash forward twenty years and that sense of humour that I so inherited from my two dads has been both a blessing and a curse. Sure my sharp observational wit has opened some creative doors for me and been a unique ice breaker for many friendships over the years. And I can trade sarcastic insults with the best of them. But that same sarcastic tone is so embedded in me, to this day, people have trouble knowing whether I'm serious or joking. My deadpan face is so frozen sometimes, even when I'm really hurting inside, people can't tell.
One thing I have gotten better at is letting more people inside and not using humour too much as a defense mechanism.
It's nothing a little maturity... and a lot of therapy, couldn't cure!
It also did wonders for my daddy issues.
For better or for worse, both these men have been huge influences and I'm better off having had them in my lives.
The retirement of David Letterman is big news in the world of entertainment, but my life will go on. I know he's just a comedian and a talk show host and I've never even met him in person. He shouldn't mean more to me than that, should he? But he did. And he does. I realize I'm personalizing something that maybe I shouldn't. But anything that brought you such joy and influenced you that much deserves to be that personal.buy cheap rolex replica watches
I did get the opportunity once to see a live taping of The Late Show in November of 2002. It was a pleasant and smooth, if unspectacular episode. Adam Sandler was the guest promoting Eight Crazy Nights, and the Pussy Cat Dolls (when Carmen Electra was a member) was the musical guest. The event was personal for me, as it occurred one month after my father had passed away.