By: Meredith Francis ~Campus News Editor~
David Letterman, influential comedian and long-time host of CBS’ “The Late Show,” recently announced that he will be retiring from his late-night gig sometime in 2015.
Letterman, who made the announcement on his show on April 3, was sincere and gracious, acknowledging his long-time band leader and sidekick Paul Schaffer.
“What this means now is Paul and I can be married,” Letterman joked.
A native of Indianapolis, Ind., Letterman began his career as a weatherman on the local Indianapolis broadcast station WLWI. In 1975, he made the move to Los Angeles to pursue a career in comedy writing and stand-up, often performing late night gigs at The Comedy Store, a popular comedy club in West Hollywood where Johnny Carson and Jay Leno also got their starts.
Letterman, who is known for his sarcasm and dry wit, caught the eye of the then-host of “The Tonight Show” Carson with his stand-up and became a frequent guest of the show, even occassionally filling in for Carson as a guest host.
After a brief, unsuccessful morning show, NBC offered Letterman a permanent spot in late night comedy.
“Late Night with David Letterman,” which came on right after the “The Tonight Show,” began in 1982 and ran for 11 years. Conan O’Brien, Jimmy Fallon and Seth Meyers would go on to follow Letterman in that time slot on NBC.
In 1993, after many fans expected Letterman to take over for Carson, CBS offered Letterman a spot in their own 11:35 time slot, and “The Late Show with David Letterman” has been on ever since.
“The Tonight Show” instead went to Leno, which established a tense relationship between the two comics.
For many years, Letterman cracked jokes on his show about the feud, often impersonating Leno himself.
Letterman’s humor was biting following O’Brien’s removal from “The Tonight Show” in 2010 after only nine months on the air.
In the last year, particularly following Leno’s retirement, Letterman has stopped the jabs, even complimenting Leno on his work in comedy.
Letterman has built a legacy on “The Late Show,” continuing his daily “Top 10” and other long-running gags, including “Stupidwith Jack Hanna and putting a pizza and large meatball on top of his Christmas tree during the holidays.
Letterman’s humor has never shied away from being political.
He had particular fun during President George W. Bush’s time in office, often showing clips of the 42nd president stumbling through a speech in what “The Late Show” called “Great Moments in Presidential Speeches.” Letterman’s humor is often biting, intelligent and sarcastic.
At this time, it is unclear as to whom will replace this staple in American late night comedy.
With roughly a year left behind the desk, Letterman is sure to continue doing what he does best: being David Letterman.