Jimmy Kimmel

How David Letterman Became Johnny Carson, and Everyone Else Became David Letterman


Last week, as part of their (understandably) protracted and hyped-up farewell to David Letterman, CBS aired a 90-minute prime-time special called David Letterman: A Life on Television. Hosted by Ray Romano, it was a clean, efficient retrospective that wrapped Dave’s memorable moments into tight little packages: celebrity interviews of note, political high-rollers, “friends of the show,” recurring segments, and so on. But the special was strangely incongruent to the true spirit of the show, which was never about immortal moments or rehashed clips; it was about an overall spirit, a loose, gonzo, hanging-out vibe. When Letterman’s idol Johnny Carson did an anniversary special or his own farewell tour back in 1992, you knew you were gonna see the tomahawk clip or Tiny Tim’s wedding. But that wasn’t what Letterman’s show — whether Late Night at NBC or The Late Show at CBS — was, or why those of us who loved Letterman watched …Read More